Swerve fuel inflation on this magnificent 19th-century penny farthing

Nothing like a vintage bicycle; first edition of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre also on sale

Sheppard's will hold a most interesting sale on Tuesday, March 29th, at its saleroom in Durrow. The auction, Irish Vernacular: Private Collection of Ceramics, Furniture and Metalwork, features a really mixed bag of Irish indigenous pieces that will draw much interest due to the selection on offer.

There are numerous taxidermy pieces, including two of pike at €500-€800 each, along with a fox and cub (€500-€1,000) and something you don’t see that often: a neo-gothic altar piece from Offaly (€400-€600).

Highlights of the sale include a very old carved wooden mether from the medieval period (€4,000-€6,000). Methers were ceremonial drinking vessels with two or four handles carved from a single piece of wood, normally yew, alder or willow.

Should the current price of petrol drive you to more economical and indeed greener modes of travel, the sale lists a superb original penny farthing bicycle from the 19th century (€4,000-€6,000); a 19th-century wicker-work estate carriage (€1,000-€2,000) and a vintage tandem bicycle with sidecar (€800-€1,200).


Assembled over three generations, further lots of interest include a Co Meath Gibson hedge chair (€500-€800); an Arthur Griffith commemorative jug (€500-€800); and a rare Charles Stewart Parnell commemorative fire fender from 1904 (€300-€500).

Eyre and graces

In London, on March 23rd, Bonham’s will hold its Women Through History sale at its Knightsbridge saleroom, featuring manuscripts, books and suffragette memorabilia and “other items from women who have changed the narrative as artists, writers and cultural pioneers”.

Of Irish interest is a hitherto unknown, rediscovered notebook from the Irish poet Mary Tighe (1772-1810), the daughter of Rev William Blachford, a keeper of Marsh's Library. It is said that she left for London due to the deep unhappiness in her marriage to cousin Henry Tighe. From there she moved in literary circles with Thomas Moore, Lady Morgan and John Keats. Poet Felicia Hemans wrote Grave of a Poetess when visiting her tomb at Inistioge in Kilkenny. She has only really been recognised properly since 2012, when her novel Selena was published for the first time. She lived a very short life, dying from tuberculosis aged 38, but her body of work influenced poets John Keats and Lord Byron, along with novelist Charlotte Brontë. The manuscript, handwritten in ink, is listed at £8,000-£12,000(€9,530-€ 14,290).

A photograph of the moment Emily Wilding Davison was struck by the king's horse on Derby Day 1913, hence becoming a suffragette figurehead and martyr to the cause (£2,000-£3,000/€2,380-€3,570) features alongside the hunger strike medal awarded by the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) to Edith Downing in 1912 (£10,000-£15,000/€11,910-€17,870).

A signed photograph of the late Diana, Princess of Wales, by Terence Donovan (Diana, 1990) is seeking £10,000-£15,000 (€11,910-€17,870), while a first edition of Jane Eyre, An Autobiography written in "a ground-breaking first person narrative" is seeking £20,000-£30,000 (€23,820-€35,730). The powerful novel, which shook genteel Victorian society, dealt with topics such as sexuality, religion and the notion of a woman confronting men on equal terms.

sheppards.ie, bonhams.com