Weird and wonderful sale at Sheppard’s

Viewing begins in Durrow and online today for 1,300 eclectic lots

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An unusual Victorian regimental military helmet, of a type known as a “chapka”, that belonged to an officer in the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers – a 19th century British Army cavalry regiment – is one of the many unusual lots in Sheppard’s two-day auction next Tuesday and Wednesday.

The “chapka” (lot 858) – decorated with swan feathers and estimated at €1,000-€1,500 – belonged to John Crowdy, a riding master with the regiment and is among several items of his regimental regalia in the sale. Crowdy seems to have been a sort of 19th-century “horse-whisperer”, who was praised by the Prince of Wales in 1875 for training horses for service in India.

In an effort to prepare home counties horses for the exoticism of the sub-continent, the prince was delighted to note, “the horses went every day last week to the Zoological Gardens and would allow both the elephants and the camels to come close to and even lick them before they came away”.

Among a selection of other items of militaria is lot 854, an “Irish Guards tunic” (€200-€300) and lot 865, a “first World War military compass” (€150-€250).

All types of collectors will find items of interest in this auction. Fans of taxidermy, for example, will be interested in lot 249, a “stuffed young puma” (mountain lion) – probably from South America (€1,500-€2,500); for collectors of walking sticks and canes, 25 lots include lot 820, a “Victorian rent stick” with an ivory handle “used by landlords to rap at a door when collecting rent” (€250-€350); and, for collectors of antique musical instruments, a mid-18th century “rare English cello, circa 1750” €6,000-€8,000).

A small selection of vintage fashion items includes some Louis Vuitton pieces, three Hermès silk scarves (each separately guiding €100-€150) and, for stylish horsey types, lot 387, a pair of Hermès leather and metal stirrups (€100-€150).

Furniture includes lot 238, an Elizabethan (16th-century) carved oak refectory table (€6,000-€9,000).

Some items are virtually unclassifiable. Lot 207 is a “whale tooth page-turner” (€120-€180), lot 501 is a 19th-century ivory back-scratcher (€80-€120) and lot 554 is a set of “five Victorian graduated cast iron shoe casts” €100-€150).

Children of all ages, and men who like to make things in sheds, will flock to lot 1262, “an early 20th-century flying machine” (€3,000-€5,000).

Viewing of the 1,300 lots begins this morning in Sheppard’s Irish Auction House, Durrow, Co Laois, or see sheppards.ie

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