The best of the antique marquetry furniture had already been sold, but there was still plenty to tempt people to the second Mount Congreve estate sale – where the highlights ranged from traditional Irish peat buckets to a Carlton House antique desk.
Like Lancashire, Ireland does not have many big country house auctions, but when it does the results can be quite spectacular. Mount Congreve had been the family seat of the Congreve family for six generations, but this came to an end with the death of Ambrose in 2011. The estate – with its magnificent gardens – was left to the Irish state but the contents of the house (which was never open to the public) were sold at auction, with no reserve on anything.
Over 90 of the choicest pieces were sold at Christie’s in May, including a superb pair of George III pier tables. Designed by Robert Adam, they brought in £313,250. There were no six figure bids when the remainder of the estate – more than 1100 pieces – went under the hammer in July. However, English furniture still proved its value with the Carlton House desk realising more than £68,000. A pair of giltwood side-tables, circa 1720, sold for almost twice their upper estimate, going under the hammer at £38,330 despite repairs and alterations.
Interestingly, although this second sale was not conducted by Christie’s, the local firm conducting the sale was asked to raise its normal buyer’s premium to keep in line with Christie’s London rate of 25 per cent. Even with no reserve, buying at auction can be pricey, which is why it is better to use antique dealers when buying antique desks in Lancashire .
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