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    Monday, March 5th, 2018

    Irish silver box by William Clarke, Cork c1730

    An 18th century Irish Provincial silver box comes up at Bonhams Home and Interiors sale in London on March 7.

    The c1730 box by William Clarke, Cork has a hinged cover chased with rococo decoration with butterflies on the base.  It is estimated at £1,000-1,500.

    On March 21 Bonhams will offer garden notes and a library catalogue for Burton Park, near Churchtown, Mallow, Co. Cork. It will come up as part of a fine books and manuscripts sale and comprises an account of seeds and plants in the garden and runs from April 1683 to February 1683-4.  The estimate is £1,000-1,500.


    Thursday, November 9th, 2017

    Maria Cregan’s manuscript.

    An autograph letter journal by Maria Cregan, with an eyewitness account of the Easter Rising, comes up at Bonhams in London on November 15. Her day to day account opens as follows:  I went with Carrie Slacke and her son Randal to Sugarloaf Mountain for the Easter holiday… At Harcourt Street the first thing I noticed was a wrecked motor car opposite the station and rather many people about but also that there were no trams. I walked towards Stephen’s Green and asked had there been an accident and was told there had been a rising of Sinn Feiners. They had taken the College of Surgeons and the Green, had dug trenches in the green, barricaded the streets with all kinds of vehicles &c and had run up the Republican Flag on the College of Surgeons (this last I could see myself from the corner of Cuffe Street). I asked a man who was standing with a bicycle if I could get through, but he said it was too dangerous and even as he spoke a volley rang out…”

    There are entries made for each day from Tuesday April 25 to Friday May 6, 1916.  The ten pages on thin office style paper, signed and dated Maria J. Cregan, May 6, 1916 carry an estimate of £700-900.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £1,875


    Monday, May 15th, 2017

    A typed Order of Surrender from the 1916 Rising signed by Patrick Pearse comes up at Bonhams  in London on June 14.  One of the most significant documents in Irish 20th century history it ended the abortive attempt to overthrow British rule in Ireland and establish an independent Irish State.  After six days of bitter fighting Pearse offered the surrender to prevent further bloodshed.

    Ronan McGreevy editor of Centenary – Ireland Remembers 1916 to be published this autumn explained the significance of the order: “The terse document expresses Pearse’s belief that he would certainly be executed, but that all the others would be spared. Instead the British executed 15 leaders, including Pearse, and imprisoned thousands. This brutal military fiat turned Irish public opinion against British rule in Ireland exactly as the rebels had hoped”.

    A small number of copies were made, signed by Pearse and distributed to rebel positions in Dublin and the outlying countryside by Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell, who had acted as go between during the surrender negotiations, and members of the Capuchin community. It is not known exactly how many typed copies were produced, but it is thought to be in single figures. Two surviving copies are held by the National Library of Ireland. Another, signed by Pearse and countersigned by James Connolly, is held at the Imperial War Museum, London. In addition, there are known to be three hand written drafts. It is estimated at £80,000-100,000.


    Saturday, April 1st, 2017

    18th century silver mug by Mark Fallon  UPDATE: THIS MADE £15,000

    A rare 18th century silver mug by Mark Fallon, Galway c1730 which was on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum from 1974 to 2003 comes up at Bonham’s in London on April 5.

    One of only three known secular pieces made by Mark Fallon the mug is straight sided with a double scroll handle and engraved with two crests. The Jacobite Galway, which supported the Catholic King James II, was besieged and captured during the Williamite Wars in Ireland from 1688-91.

    Trade and industry suffered as oppressive laws led to the departure of many families. Because of this Galway silver is rare and most surviving pieces were designed for religious use.  The c1730 mug by Mark Fallon is estimated at £12,000-15,000.



    Thursday, March 30th, 2017

    Personal letters from Jackie Kennedy made £100,000 at Bonhams sale of  The Contents of Glyn Cywarch – The Property of Lord Harlech in London.  The Kennedy-Harlech Papers  the heartfelt personal letters between Jackie Kennedy and David Ormsby Gore, Lord Harlech, sold in the room to a private buyer.  This was a white glove sale where every one of the 531 lots sold. The sale total was £2,599,038, more than two and a half times the pre-sale estimate.

    The collection included Mrs. Kennedy’s rejection letter to the 5th Baron Harlech, one of JFK’s most intimate confidantes.  He was British Ambassador to the US from 1961 to 1965 and he and JFK had been friends since their student days at the LSE.  The 18 letters reveal that when he asked her to marry him she responded that she saw him ‘like a brother’. They remained friends until his death in 1985. She penned the rejection letter five years after JFK’s death as she sailed on the yacht of Aristotle Onassis, the shipping magnate who became her second husband. Lord Harlech had recently lost his wife Sissy in a car crash and was said to have proposed to Jackie while they were on holiday together in February 1968.

    Other highlights included a newly discovered portrait by Marcus Gheeraerts, court painter to Elizabeth I. It sold for £269,000 against an estimate of £60,000-80,000. Painted in 1597 it portrays Ellen Maurice, a prominent Welsh heiress and Harlech ancestor, whose pearls and jewellery are worth the equivalent of one million pounds in today’s market. Two remarkable Elizabeth I joined oak three-tier buffets, circa 1580-1600, made £140,500 against an estimate of £35,000-45,000. A 1936 Rapier 10Hp Tourer, a rare British sports car, one of only 300 built sold for £31,500.  And Irish artist Daniel Quigley’s portrait of The Godolphin Arabian, one of three Eastern stallions from which all modern racehorses descend, made over five times its estimate, selling for £100,000.  The auction was to raise funds for the restoration of Glyn Cywarch (known as Glyn) which Jasset, 7th Lord Harlech inherited on the death of his father in February 2016.

    (See post on for Febraury 26, 2017)

    The Kennedy-Harlech Papers sold for £100,000.

    Marcus Gheeraerts. This Portrait of Ellen Maurice made £269,000. Her pearls and jewellery would be worth £1 million in today’s market.


    Friday, March 3rd, 2017

    There was what Charles O’Brien of Bonhams described as “a good price for a non Irish subject” when a work by Walter Osborne sold for £125,000 at the London sale of 19th century European, Victorian and British Impressionist art in London. “When the Boats come in” was painted in the period from 1884 to 1891 when Osborne lived in England.  O’Brien said the world had attracted considerable commented.

    A portrait of Newry born Charles Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen by John Singer Sargent, also sold for £125,000. A close associate of Gladstone and a supporter of Home Rule he was the first catholic to become Lord Chief Justice of England.  Bonhams sale realised £1.4 million with 70% of works on offer finding buyers.  Charles O’Brien commented: “We were delighted with the overall sale results, proving that although selective, the 19th century and traditional market is still strong”.


    Charles Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen by John Singer Sargent.  UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR 125,000


    Sunday, February 26th, 2017

    This portrait of The Godolphin Arabian by the Irish artist Daniel Quigley comes up at Bonhams sale of the contents of Glyn Cywarch, the property of Lord Harlech, in London on March 29.  Godolphin was one of three horses brought to England between 1689 and 1730 from which all modern thoroughbreds descend including Sea Biscuit.

    Among the most successful of his progeny were Lath, Cedes, Regulus, Babraham, Dormouse and Bajazet.  The horse was foaled in Yemen around 1724 and is said to have been given by King Louis XV of France to the Bey of Tunis in 1730. Later Edward Coke acquired him for his stud at Longford Hall, Derbyshire. Ownership passed to Francis, 2nd Earl Godolphin upon Coke’s death and the horse spent the remainder of his life at the Earl’s stud farm where he died on Christmas Day, 1753.

    Daniel Quigley’s portrait is thought to derive from an original, now lost, by David Morier, which was engraved and became a popular print. Other versions of Quigley’s portrait are in the National Horseracing Museum, Newmarket and the Paul Mellon Collection at the Yale Centre for British Art.  The painting is estimated at £15,000-20,000.



    Monday, February 20th, 2017

    The estate of author Jackie Collins is to be auctioned by Bonhams in Los Angeles on May 16 and 17.  More than 1,000 lots will come under the hammer in a sale entitled Jackie Collins: A Life in Chapters.  Bonhams  Vice-President Leslie Wright commented:  “Jackie Collins lived the lifestyle about which she wrote, and the sale  will provide an exclusive insight into the real woman behind her unforgettable characters. Her books were loved by millions of readers world-wide. This is their chance to own a piece of the magic.”

    The sale is expected to realise around $3 million and will include jewellery, fine art and sculpture.  Among the lots are a collection of bronzes including Nude with Shawl by Josef Lorenzl ($18,000-25,000); works by the English painter, Beryl Cook, including Tango in Bar Sur ($20,000-30,000) and Train Station Café ($ 20,000-30,000);  Jackie’s bespoke special edition 2002 Jaguar XKR Sportscar finished in metallic gold ($ 15,000-20,000) and a selection of entertainment and career-related memorabilia taking in first editions of Jackie’s works and a selection of designer clothes.  Among the jewellery is a 6.04-carat diamond and platinum ring ($100,000-150,000), an Art Deco diamond, emerald, stone and platinum necklace at ($40,000-50,000),  signed pieces by Cartier and Nardi  and watches by Patek Philippe, Harry Winston, Chanel and Chopard. Here is a small selection:

    The fireplace at her Beverly Hills living room.

    A diamond solitaire ring ($100,000-150,000).

    Beryl Cook artwork.

    A portrait of Jackie Collins in the style of Tamara de Lempicka ($3,000-5,000)


    Monday, February 13th, 2017

    Charles Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen by John Singer Sargent.

    A portrait of the distinguished Irish lawyer and statesman, Charles Russell, Baron Russell of Killowen, by John Singer Sargent comes up at Bonhams 19th Century European, Victorian and British Impressionist Art sale in London on March 1. It is estimated at £60,000-80,000. Russell (1832-1900) was regarded as the finest advocate of his age. In 1888-89, he successfully defended Charles Stewart Parnell against false allegations that he had condoned the Phoenix Park Killings, in which the Chief Secretary for Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and the Permanent Under-Secretary for Ireland Thomas Burke were stabbed to death in 1882. He was a close associate of the Liberal leader Gladstone and a fellow supporter of Home Rule for Ireland.  He was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England, the first Catholic to hold the post.

    Sargent’s portrait was painted in 1900, the year of Russell’s sudden death and is being sold with the painter’s correspondence with the sitter. It has been in the Russell family ever since.  Another version of the Sargent portrait hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in London. Bonhams Director of 19th Century Paintings, Charles O’Brien, said, “Russell was a key figure in political, legal and diplomatic life in the last quarter of the 19th century when Britain was arguably at the height of her global standing. Sargent’s use of contrasting light and dark creates an image of a strong, capable, rather stern man, that perfectly conveys Russell’s great eminence.”

    UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £125,000


    Tuesday, February 7th, 2017

    A first edition of Gulliver’s Travels.

    A first edition of Gulliver’s Travels is one of the leading lots at Bonhams Fine Books and Manuscripts sale in London on 1 March 1. From a world-class collection of 17th, 18th and 19th century fantasy and scientific literature it is estimated at £20,000-30,000.

    Jonathan Swift’s Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World … by Lemuel Gulliver, commonly known as Gulliver’s Travels, was published on 28 October 1726, selling out within two weeks. It has been popular ever since and is the most widely read work of 18th century English literature. Adapted many times for film, television and radio – and even opera – the stories of Gulliver’s travels to fantastical lands, including Lilliput and Brobdingnag, are famous throughout the world.

    The collection was assembled during the 20th century by a French bibliophile. It has a strong emphasis on works which would now be classified as science fiction, although important scientific and philosophical writers such as Galileo and Descartes are also represented. Other highlights include:

    • A first edition of Johannes Kepler’s very rare imaginary tale of a voyage to the moon – Somnium, seu opus posthumum de astronomia lunari. Divulgatum (A Dream: or, a Posthumous Work of Lunar Astronomy)– published posthumously in 1634, and estimated at £20,000-30,000. The book features an astonishingly accurate description of how the rest of the celestial system would look as seen from the moon.
    • La découverte australe par un homme-volant, ou le Dédale francais by Restif de la Bretonne estimated at £4,000-6,000. This proto-science fiction Utopian novel is the account of the voyages to mythical lands by the hero, Victorin, in his flying machine made of cape-like wings of silk and a head-worn umbrella-device. It is illustrated with plates depicting the flying machine and the exotic tribes encountered by Victorin on his journey, including men-asses, men-frogs, men-snakes, men-elephants and men-lions.
    • De la terre à la lune, trajet direct en 97 heures, by Jules Verne estimated at £800-1,000. A second edition of Verne’s classic From the Earth to the Moon of 1865 which drew on the latest scientific and technological knowledge to envisage a manned flight to the moon more than 100 years before it actually happened.