Red letter day as post box flies in Cavan sale

Green paint had crumbled to expose its British heritage

A post box was sold for €7,500 at  Cavan auction.

A post box was sold for €7,500 at Cavan auction.

 

A post box was one of the more unlikely star lots of Victor Mee’s recent auction in Belturbet. Towering above the multitude of drinks advertising signs, tankards and assorted pub memorabilia which dominated the north Cavan auction, stood this green giant symbol of Irishness. Or so it appeared.

Upon closer inspection, patches of the green paint crumbled away to expose its British heritage. With the emergence of the Free State, the nascent government’s short-term solution to removing this sign of British rule was to simply paint over the pillar-box red. As in the case of the post box for sale in Mee’s, the embossed royal cypher remained clearly visible through the paint.

The embossed royal cypher is clearly visible through the green paint.
The embossed royal cypher is clearly visible through the green paint.

Although the lot bore the catalogue description of 19th century postbox, the lettering VII was legible, indicating it dated from the decade-long reign of Edward VII (1901-1910). Eventually the Irish government did commission a new pillar box design bearing the letters P&T (Post & Telegraphs) and later An Post.

A book bid of €2,000 sparked the race for the “rare lot”, as it was described by the auctioneer.

After two minutes of bidding, where the bidding rose in increments of €100s up to €3,000 before an online bidder signalled their serious intent by increasing the bidding by €500. From there on it rose by either €300 or €500, causing laughs of bewilderment among some onlookers, until the gavel fell at €7,500.

Standing free, the cast iron postbox measured six foot as the metal foundations, usually submerged, were exposed.

The rare whiskeys which had been the focus of pre-auction promotions fetched prices ranging from €180 for a Harry Thomson Scotch, to €2,600 (shy of the €3,000-€6,000 estimate) for a 20th William Jameson & Co Free State Old Dublin Irish Whiskey aged 10 years. It had been made in old time pot stills at the Marrowbone Lane Distillery.

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