Antiques: How to put a post-lockdown world in the frame

A whiff of new normality is in the air, writes Des O'Sullivan
Antiques: How to put a post-lockdown world in the frame
This pencil sketch by John Butler Yeats comes up at Aidan Foley's online sale today.
This pencil sketch by John Butler Yeats comes up at Aidan Foley's online sale today.
This pencil sketch by John Butler Yeats comes up at Aidan Foley's online sale today.

A bank holiday weekend on lockdown is never on anyone's agenda. Take heart. The new post-Covid-19 world of antiques and fine art  (though not yet fully on us) is gathering steam. As lockdowns ease in Europe and the US galleries are beginning to open up. There is even talk of real as distinct from virtual auction viewings, though socially distanced. Online sales are powering ahead, More than a whiff of new normality is in the air

This is the future. For now, the realities of the virtual world must suffice.

On offer this weekend are at least three auctions to choose from locally. Under different holiday weekend circumstances there might not have been any. In the midst of pandemic there is nothing strange about bank holiday sales at Woodward's in Cork, by Aidan Foley in Doneraile or by Larry O'Keeffe in Clonmel.

Woodward's kicks off online at 11am today. The Cork city centre-based auctioneers did offer limited viewing by appointment for this sale, but most bidders will have viewed online. If the indications from online auctions in Ireland over the past ten weeks are anything to go by it will make little difference to outcomes. Bidders have shown themselves resilient, quite happy to take condition reports online and willing to buy.

At Victor Mee's sale in Co Cavan last Sunday a Victorian hand-operated working order fairground carousel sold on the internet for a hammer price of €14,500. Covid-19 failed to put a stop to the onward gallop of these painted ponies. The sell-through rate from online auctions in Ireland in latter weeks not been any different from the world as we all used to know it. One difference is that new bidders have logged on from around the world. The changing situation is being ably dealt with by those involved.

A Louis XV-style three-piece suite at Woodward's today.
A Louis XV-style three-piece suite at Woodward's today.

At Woodwards, where the larger items sold will have to be collected by licensed courier, the 338 lots on offer range from Georgian and Victorian furniture to silver, collectibles and paintings including the view of the Queen's Hotel, Queenstown by Walter Richards featured last Saturday on these pages. There are rugs, Oriental carved figures, porcelain, silver, some garden items and plenty of collectibles. Lot 346 is a three-piece Louis XV style drawing-room suite with a top estimate of €750. It would have been higher two decades ago.

In Doneraile Aidan Foley, who was early off the mark with a first online lockdown auction on March 21 and several times since, will hold a two-day online auction of rugs, jewellery, furniture, music and pub memorabilia today and tomorrow. Live Facebook feeds have proved to be a source of intense feedback at these lockdown sales, which get underway at noon on both days.

There will be 350 lots on offer each day and he hopes to increase his online selling average of 50 lots an hour. The advice from this "hurler on the ditch" is to bring the hammer down quickly on one or two lots early on. Generally speaking, it is a more effective way to hurry up wavering bidders than futile appeals to bid quickly.

In Clonmel Larry O'Keeffe has a timed online sale of 430 lots which runs until 3 pm tomorrow. All these sales are online at easyliveauctions.com alongside a timed online jewellery auction by Sean Eacrett of Ballybrittas, Co. Laois which runs to 8 pm tomorrow.

This will be followed next Wednesday by a single owner collection of militaria, jewellery, collectibles and porcelain by Purcell Auctioneers in Birr. It all adds up to plenty of lockdown action for Irish collectors.

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