Information about Art, Antiques and Auctions in Ireland and around the world
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    Thursday, October 6th, 2016
    The 18th century French sporting gun

    The 18th century French sporting gun. UPDATE: THIS MADE 10,000 AT HAMMER

    An 18th flintlock sporting gun is one of the more unusual lots at the Country House Collections auction by James Adam at Townley Hall, Drogheda, Co. Louth on October 11.  It was made by a gunmaker who managed to keep his head in revolutionary France.  Nicholas-Noel Boutet was a director of the Versailles Rifle Manufactory. He was son of the Royal Gunsmith and had the title Gunmaker in Ordinary to the King.  But during the Revolution he worked for Napoleon at the State of Arms company.

    The gun, which is estimated at 8,000-12,000 is single stage barrel.  The sighting ridge is engraved with a sunburst with crown and numbered No.38.  There is a carved walnut stock extending fully to the muzzle, with ebon ramrod. The silver mounts are hallmarked and engraved with foliage.  There is a leather cheek piece at the butt.  The catalogue for the sale, which is online, lists 647 lots.


    Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
    That dress. The front view.

    That dress. The front view.

    The skin tight flesh coloured dress worn by Marilyn Monroe as she sang “Happy Birthday Mr. President” to JFK  is to be displayed at the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons in Ireland before being sold by Julien’s Auctions on November 17.  The custom made Jean Louis creation was so tight fitting that Marilyn had to be sewn into it at the last moment. It will be displayed on the mannequin designed to match her body measurement.

    On Saturday, May 19, 1962, at a Democratic fundraiser and early 45th birthday celebration, President John F. Kennedy took his seat in Madison Square Garden at what was to become one of the most iconic moments in entertainment and political history. In front of 15,000 guests, many of them celebrities, actor Peter Lawford made an introduction that would change the course of pop culture and Presidential folklore forever. Under a bright spotlight Marilyn Monroe walked on stage and peeled away her white ermine fur coat, revealing the sheer dress that sparkled with over 2,500 handstitched crystals. Her intimate tone and projection of the words Mr. President stunned the audience. Jacqueline Kennedy was not present. The song lasted just 30 seconds. Sadly this was one of Marilyn’s last public appearances and the last time they met. She died three months later, the president was assassinated the following year.

    The rear view.

    The rear view.

    Prior to the auction, the “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress will go on tour. It is to be shown at MANA Contemporary in New Jersey as part of the Exhibition “Marilyn: Character Not Image” followed by the Newbridge Silverware Museum of Style Icons (MOSI) in Kildare, Ireland from October 29 to November 6 before making its way back to the Julien’s Auctions Gallery in Los Angeles.

    The catalogue cover for the sale show's Marilyn wearing the dress on stage.  Courtesy Julien's Auctions

    The catalogue cover for the sale show’s Marilyn wearing the dress on stage. Courtesy Julien’s Auctions

    “We have had remarkable opportunities to offer unique objects related to Marilyn Monroe in the past,” said Martin Nolan, Executive Director of Julien’s Auctions. “To be part of the continued interest and excitement around this legend is always thrilling. This dress, this story, this momentous occasion represents a defining moment in history. This auction will remind the world why Marilyn Monroe remains an icon.”

    Three days of live and online auctions from the life and career of Marilyn Monroe and the collection of Lee Strasberg will kick off at Julien’s on November 17.

    (See post on for June 2, 2010)


    Thursday, September 1st, 2016
    Henry Kissinger's personal Lincoln Continental.

    Henry Kissinger’s personal Lincoln Continental.

    Henry Kissinger’s personal Lincoln Continental Limousine, complete with bulletproof glass, comes up at the 42nd annual Dan Kruse Classics sale in Austin, Texas on September 10. Kissinger was U.S. Secretary of State under President Richard Nixon and won the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for the Vietnam War accords.  He was instrumental in the signing of a ceasefire agreement which ended the direct conflict but remained controversial over his “peace and honor” strategy which prolonged the war for four years. Kissinger continued to play a pivotal role in American foreign policy under President Ronald Reagan where he was chair of the National Bipartisan Commission on Central America.  Known for his tough, skillful negotiating power he also served under President Bush.

    The 1966 Lincoln Continental Limousine transported numerous diplomats and world leaders throughout Kissinger’s lengthy career in public service. The limousine has blue exterior and black interior.


    Friday, August 19th, 2016

    beckettA first edition of an early critique by Samuel Beckett with and about James Joyce is available with London rare booksellers Peter Harrington. Published by Shakespeare and Company in 1929 “Our Exagmination Round his Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress” comes with letters of protest by G. V. L. Slingsby and Vladimir Dixon. This is copy 45 of 96 large numbered copies printed on Verge d’Arches. This early critique of Joyce’s final work was published some 10 years prior to the publication of Finnegan’s Wake.  Part of the incentive to publish was apparently to raise funds for the perennially impecunious Joyce. A myth surrounding this work is that one or both of the two letters of protest were written by Joyce himself. However both authors existed – indeed Beach herself commissioned Slingsby. Dixon’s effort was an unsolicited one by a Russian émigré who was to die in Paris in 1929, just as the book was published.

    The critique is priced at £4,750 and is one of a number of plays, novels, essays and inscribed items spanning Beckett’s career now available at Peter Harrington on Dover St. in London.


    Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

    There are diamond rings and coloured stones like sapphire, ruby and topaz  in a variety of settings at the sale of jewellery, watches and silver at O’Reilly’s, Francis St., Dublin on August 24.  The catalogue is online. Here is a small selection.

    A three stone diamond ring (20,000-22,000)

    A three stone diamond ring (20,000-22,000)

    A certified Colombian emerald ring in diamond surround (10,000-12,000)

    A certified Colombian emerald ring in diamond surround (10,000-12,000)

    A diamond baguette necklace with matching earrings (3,000-4,000)

    A diamond baguette necklace with matching earrings (3,000-4,000)

    An 18 carat white gold diamond cross over ring  (2,500-2,800)

    An 18 carat white gold diamond cross over ring (2,500-2,800)


    Thursday, August 11th, 2016

    A 12 bore Royal de Luxe sidelock ejector gun by Holland and Holland, produced for grouse shooting, comes up at Gavin Gardiner‘s sale of fine modern and vintage sporting guns and rifles at the Gleneagles Hotel, Perthshire in Scotland on August 29, just two weeks into the grouse shooting season. Ordered in July 1972 and delivered in June 1976 the original cost was £2,050. The recently serviced gun now comes to market with an estimate of £14,000-18,000. The sale, which is now in its 49th year, includes over 200 lots by leading European gun makers.

    A 12 bore Royal de Luxe ejector gun by Holland and Holland (£14,000-18,000)

    A 12 bore Royal de Luxe ejector gun by Holland and Holland (£14,000-18,000)

    A pair of  12 bore round action ejector guns by Johh Dickson and Sons, 1902 (£10,000-15,000)

    A pair of 12 bore round action ejector guns by Johh Dickson and Sons, 1902 (£10,000-15,000)


    Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016
    The barograph clock. Copyright the Board of theTrustees of the Science Museum, London.

    The barograph clock. Copyright the Board of theTrustees of the Science Museum, London.

    A rare Georgian clock, capable of recording changes in air pressure and used at the dawn of climate science, has been acquired by the Science Museum in London. Dated 1766, the barograph clock is one of only four of its type that highly-regarded London clockmaker Alexander Cumming is known to have constructed. It was used by renowned meteorologist Luke Howard to conduct some of the world’s first urban climate studies.  After Cumming’s death in 1814, Luke Howard purchased the clock and used it for observations of atmospheric pressure at his homes in London and Ackworth, a crucial project in the emergence of climate science. The data from the barograph traces, accompanied by notes on global weather events and descriptions of the clock, were published in the book Barometrographia in 1847. Howard’s life’s work has earned him the nickname ‘the father of scientific meteorology’.

    A fine example of the technical innovations of the Georgian period, the clock was designed by Cumming using ideas first outlined by Royal Society founding member Robert Hooke. It has featured in previous exhibitions at the Science Museum as a loan, and curators are now planning a permanent display.  The case, thought to be made by famed London cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale, contains a barograph mechanism used for measuring air pressure. This comprises two tubes of mercury in which a float rises and falls as atmospheric pressure changes. This data is recorded on the clock dial, which rotates once a year. The acquisition was made possible by a grant from Art Fund and it was purchased through Sotheby’s.

    During the Georgian period, scientific practice was often presented in public as a high-status activity expressed through ornately decorated and very finely constructed instruments such as this. The first barograph clock Cumming constructed was commissioned by King George III as a prime example of his pursuit of Enlightenment.


    Thursday, July 28th, 2016
    Combermere Library restored.

    Combermere Library restored.

    Combermere Abbey in Shropshire has won the 2016 Restoration Award presented by the Historic Houses Association (HHA) and sponsored by Sotheby’s. The house, owned by the Callander Beckett family since 1919,  had suffered severe deterioration over a number of years. The Award is for the most recent restoration of the North Wing and in recognition of the 24-year project to bring the whole house back to life.  Combermere Abbey sits at the heart of 1,000 acres of farmland, woodland and park, with a 150-acre lake curving around the house. The origins date to the 1130’s. The 900-year history has encompassed Royal purchase, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the impact of the Civil War, stately visits in the 18th century and extensive remodelling in the early 19th century. The 19th century render had caused extensive dry rot. In 1957 when Penelope Callander, later Lady Lindsay, inherited the house it was in such poor condition that permission was sought to demolish much of the building. Thankfully this plan was rejected and the process of trying to save Combermere began.

    Firstly, the stable block was converted to create nine holiday cottages. Later the Library, formerly the Abbot’s Hall, was restored and brought back to its former magnificence complete with family heraldry and portraits, supported by grants from the Heritage Conservation Trust and English Heritage.  The final stage of the restoration has taken place in the north wing. This will provide luxurious boutique bedrooms with sitting and dining rooms, as well as bridal accommodation. Ancillary buildings have also been restored, including a Grade II* game larder which is thought to date from the 19th century with a grant from the Country Houses Foundation.

    The Historic Houses Association/Sotheby’s Restoration Award recognises and celebrates the work being undertaken by Members of the HHA throughout the United Kingdom. These projects reflect the dedication of owners to the care and sympathetic restoration of the incredible buildings that they own, inhabit and share with the public.  This year the judges commended three properties alongside the winner: Crichel House, Dorset for the restoration of the Wyatt State Rooms; Hedingham Castle, Essex for the restoration of the Norman Keep and Penicuik House, Midlothian for the consolidation of the remains of this 18th century house.

    Combermere Abbey

    Combermere Abbey – before.

    Combermere Abbey

    Combermere Abbey – after.



    Wednesday, June 15th, 2016
    A gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Yuanshi Tianzun from the late Ming Dynasty which had been in Ireland since 1914 and was sold last November.

    A gilt-lacquered bronze figure of Yuanshi Tianzun from the late Ming Dynasty in Ireland since 1914 sold last November for around £45,000.

    A specialist in fine Chinese art from Bonhams is to visit Ireland on June 23 and 24 in search of treasure. Sing Yan Choy will be based at Bonhams, 31 Molesworth Street Dublin. Over the years, Bonhams has found several pieces of Chinese art in Ireland which have sold successfully in London. Many of these have a provenance which links them to families involved in the shipping and banking industries in China during the 18th and 19th Century, and to European families with military or diplomatic ties to Asia.

    Ahead of his visit, Sing Yan Choy commented: “The Chinese market is still yielding encouraging sale results, particularly if objects have a good provenance as with so many of the pieces we have found in Ireland. Being able to trace the history of an item is always a valuable reassurance to buyers and Chinese collectors, especially, go to great lengths to satisfy themselves about previous ownership”.


    Wednesday, June 8th, 2016
    1963 Fender Stratocaster (£8,000-12,000)

    1963 Fender Stratocaster (£8,000-12,000)

    Guitars and amplifiers from the collection of Belfast born Gary Moore will come up at Bonhams entertainment memorabilia sale in Knightsbridge, London on June 29.   Moore played with Thin Lizzy as well as Colosseum II and (the original) Skid Row. On hearing of Moore’s death in 2011, Bob Geldof commented that he was “without question one of the great Irish bluesmen. His playing was exceptional and beautiful. We won’t see his like again.”

    Leading the collection is a 1963 Fender Stratocaster, estimated at £8,000-12,000. The guitar was a gift from the late Claude Nobs, founder of the Montreux Jazz Festival. It can be seen on live footage of the Fleadh festival in Finsbury Park, London in 2001, and the ‘Blues for Jimi’ DVD in late 2007. Also featured is a Fritz Brothers ‘Roy Buchanan Bluemaster’ guitar, estimated at £2,500-3,500. Moore ordered the guitar after borrowing a similar instrument from George Harrison, who was his friend and neighbour in Henley-on-Thames. Moore used Harrison’s guitar when recording a track on the 1989 album, ‘After the War’, but later decided to purchase his own to use for live performances.