Rare Lily Williams oil and piece of Irish motoring history among autumn auction sales

Both Adam’s and John Weldon have interesting catalogues for upcoming auctions

An oil by Lily Williams, some fine French furniture, and motor racing memorabilia are among the items for sale in early autumn auctions.

Adam’s of St Stephen’s Green At Home catalogue is now available for its first autumn auction. Ending on Monday, September 4th, the online only sale is currently open for bidding.

With more than 400 lots, some interesting pieces of silver are included such as a George III honeypot by Thomas and Daniel Leader (lot one, €300-€500).

Along with rare provincial pieces, such as lot 34 – a pair of serving spoons by Cork silversmith John Toleken (€300-€500) – is a lovely fruit basket with crest by silversmith Hester Bateman (lot 47, €1,500-€2,000). Bateman had six children with her gold chain-maker husband John Bateman, and when he died young, she took over the business and became a renowned silversmith, who was known for her quality flatware. Her work – built up over three decades – resulted in her being considered one of the finest English silversmiths and is held by the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia.


Some fine pieces of French furniture, often decorated in the quintessential Kingwood and marquetry inlaid styles, feature. Two sets of compact bedside chests (lots 316 and 381, €600-€1,000 per set) are offered, along with an impressive marble topped credenza (lot 92, €2,000-€4,000) and a secretaire à abattant. In the French empire style, the tall writing desk has a door flap which opens down to create a writing surface, with pigeon holes and drawers for storage (lot 104, €500-€800).

Arts and Crafts pieces include an attractive secretaire, with classic decorative period motifs by George Montgomery Ellwood (lot 118, €2,000-€3,000,) and large copper chargers by John S Pearson (lot 142, €500-€800 and €400-€600). Another interesting piece with copper is an arts and crafts rectangular silver and copper box from 1900, attributed to Benjamin Creswick (€500-€800).

The sale has twelve mirrors from a Victorian gilt wood and gesso arched overmantel at 164m high (lot 248, €1,000-€1,500), to a lovely Regency gilt wood pier mirror at 84cm high (lot 91, €500-€700).

Gracing the catalogue cover is lot 84, Still Life with Flowers, an oil by Lily Williams. Estimated at €1,000-€1,500, Williams’ work is rare enough on the auction circuit, so it’s a bit of a find. An associate of the Royal Hibernian Academy, she was an Irish portrait painter and known for her Irish stamp designs. She featured in the 2014 exhibition, Irish Women Artists 1870-1970, her half-length portrait of Arthur Griffith is held in the Hugh Lane Gallery, and she designed the Irish Free State’s Cross of Cong postal stamp in 1922, which was used until 1968.

Along with a fine Victorian ormolu and crystal chandelier (lot 107, €4,000-€5,000) – though you’d want a tall enough ceiling to accommodate it – novelty lots include an Edwardian tricycle (lot 296, €50-€100) and a wooden rocking horse (lot 163, €400-€600), while a super bronze and ivory sculptural figure from the 1920s is reminiscent of the flapper era (lot 112, €1,000-€1,500).

This coming Tuesday, August 29th, John Weldon of Temple Bar has quite a unique piece regarding Irish motoring history: a silver three-handled cup made by George Nathan & Ridley Hayes, engraved with “Irish Motor Racing Club, Phoenix Park Car Races 1933, Junior Handicap”.

The cup comes with a collection of photographs and catalogues from the Phoenix Park races, regulations, and a letter from the Royal Irish Automobile Club from 1931. It is addressed to Arthur Potterton, who had won the cup and acknowledges his concerns regarding racing car licences. The book Potterton People and Places: Three Centuries of an Irish Family, by art historian and former director of the National Gallery, the late Homan Potterton, makes reference to the win with photographs. Weldon has listed the piece at €500-€800, but it could well make more given its place in Irish motoring history.

Also featured in the sale is a fine three-stone diamond ring, with a centre stone weighing over three carats. With a total of almost five carats, the platinum set ring – which was insured for €55,000 from its first purchase – is listed at €15,000-€20,000.

In the watch section, a Breitling Navitimer 41mm grey dial automatic watch in stainless steel, with a brown alligator leather strap, is listed at €2,000-€3,000, and is a really lovely timepiece.

Antiques fair

Now in its 35th year and with about 80 dealers, the National Antiques Fair will take place at Limerick Racecourse on September 9th and 10th.

“Moving to the racecourse has been the best move we ever made, as our customers love the venue and free parking. I am going to have to consider expanding to the first floor in the racecourse as we have had to turn down dealers – 27 for this one – but luckily there are three extra floors,” organiser Robin O’Donnell, of Ireland’s largest antique and vintage fair, said.

The fair sells everything from period jewellery and furniture to curios, collectables and vintage clothing. adams.ie, jwa.ie, robinodon@gmail.com

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables