Top Tips For 2012

Quality will be king in the auction rooms this year but also watch out for Irish art from the 1940s and 1950s and Louis le Brocquy works rising in value.  The Irish fine art and antiques market is proving to be remarkably resilient in the face of the worst economic and fiscal crisis in the country’s history. Salerooms are surprisingly busy and, during the past year, auction houses regularly reported sales with over 80 per cent of lots sold.

The market is demanding high quality, fresh items with a good provenance such as fine Irish paintings; rare, quality Irish silver; fine porcelain including rare Chinese pieces and collectible items of furniture.  Anything which has done the rounds, is damaged or restored or which is too highly estimated has a very poor chance of selling in this current market.

Irish art from the 1940s and 1950s tended to be undervalued and there was remarkably good value to be had in period furnishings. With such great value to be had in virtually every area of the market, buy the best quality you can afford and don’t just wait as there hasn’t been a better time to invest in antiques and art for over a decade.Buyers should be aware that there is currently real value on offer. If you are patient and seek out works of quality, by artists with a proven track record, your investment will be secure. The full article by Michael Parsons can be found at

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The Treasure Trove of Stained-Glass Windows

A fire in St. Mel’s Cathedral, Longford in 2009 brought to light the treasure trove that is to be found in many of our churches and cathedrals throughout the country.  Harry Clarke Studio was to stained glass what Lalique was to cut glass and if the windows bear a signature then they are in a different league.  Although the cathedral in Longford was completely destroyed Abbey Stained Glass Studios in Dublin managed to come to the rescue because it had carried out restoration on the windows in 1997 and still had the rubbings taken from them which they used to recreate the windows with their complex designs.  They were put back into place in 2011 but the fire highlighted the need to protect and cherish the treasures of our cathedrals and churches.  The full story by Arminta Wallace can be viewed at


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Russborough House in New Film Release

The sumptuous setting of Russborough house was used in “Haywire” just released in cinemas throughout the country.  The film, starring Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas , Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Bill Paxton and Gina Carano, was shot in Russborough House during the snow in 2010 and shows the house and its contents in all its glory.  Russborough, built in 1741 by Joseph Leeson, was the home of Sir Alfred And Lady Beit since 1952 and was gifted to the state together with its contents in 1976.  Most of the paintings are held in the National Art Gallery after robberies made it too unsafe to keep the collection in the house itself.  Some paintings have since been returned to Russborough.  The antiques within the house are priceless and best known among them is a  scagliola table by Don Pietro Belloni dating from 1750 and on view in the Front Hall of Russborough.  A visit to the house is a must and full details of the antiques and history of the house can be seen on the website

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New World Records in Antique and Art Worlds in 2011

Last year saw an increase in world record prices achieved throughout the world.  The most noteworthy of these are:

$8,818,500 for the Taj Mahal diamond Richard Burton gave to Elizabeth Taylor sold by Christies

€1,750,000 for a pair of Lalique glass doors sold by Sothebys Paris

€1,000,000 for a painting by Jack B Yeats sold by Adams

£27,000,000 for a Roy Lichtenstein painting sold by Christies

£7,800,000 for the Sun Drop diamond sold by Sothebys

$40,402,500 for a painting by Gustav Klimt sold by Sothebys

£97,250 for the BED/PEACE card by John Lennon sold by Christies

£289,250 for a Charles II gilt brass ebony clock by Thomas Tompion of London sold by Christies

$5,682,500 for a Catherine Goddard Chippendale mahogany bureau table sold by Christies

$7,127,453 for a cushion cut sapphire and diamond brooch sold by Christies

$123,919 for ONE bottle of Romanée-Conti–Vintage 1945 sold by Christies

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Beware the Fakes!

People who purchase antiques as investments should be conscious that a number of fakes make it onto the marketplace.  In the haste to procure a tangible asset it can happen that you might have purchased a fake.  How can you safeguard yourself against such fraud?

1. Make sure you buy from a well-established reputable antique dealer who is a member of the IADA (Irish Antiques Dealers’ Association).  When you do so you can be 100% guaranteed that you are buying a genuine antique because the dealer is staking his reputation on the sale and will have thoroughly researched the provenance of the piece.

2. If the piece you have found seems too good to be true then it probably is not a genuine antique.  If you are buying from a source other than an antique dealer trust your instinct and don’t buy items without having either viewed them in person or having investigated the source.  Everyone can be taken in by the fakes as seen on a recent episode of The Antiques Roadshow where a Northern Ireland man bought two new tortoiseshell tea caddies believing them to be antiques.  The expert had to break the bad news to him but happily helped him to retrieve his money.

3.  Know your product.  If you are a collector of a certain item then do your utmost to familiarize yourself with the artists’s signature, his designs and colours used.  For example Emile Gallé glass was signed in various ways depending on when it was created.  By investing in a book about the designer you can check signatures against those attributed to him.  Be careful of items described “in the style of” or “in the manner of” because it is more than likely that the item is not by the artist and probably a reproduction with no real age.

4.  If you are unsure about an item get an expert opinion before you part with cash.  You may have to pay a small fee for this service but it is well advised to have a professional opinion rather than ending up with a fake and no recourse to a refund.

5.  Books such as “Antiques Detective” by Judith Miller can be useful to get tips and advice on how to spot the fake but in reality why take the risk? If you don’t want to lose money then search out the professional and be guided by him/her.


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Elizabeth Graydon-Stannus piece comes home to Blessington

Elizabeth Graydon-Stannus was born in Lacken outside Blessington in Co. Wicklow in 1876 and was well-known for her creations in glass.  She was greatly influenced by the Art-Deco movement and brought colour to the drab years following the first world war.  She set up the Battersea glass-works in 1925 and hired 12 glassblowers to use their creativity to design special pieces for the marketplace.  To honour the life and work of Elizabeth Graydon-Stannus a large piece of Gray-Stan glass in the form of an amethyst knopped goblet dating from the 1920’s was purchased in the Fieldings Five Centuries of Glass Auction in 2011 and presented to Blessington Credit Union where it will be on display to the public.

A copy of her book entitled “Old Irish Glass” and some archive material and photographs of Elizabeth at work in her factory will also be on display.  Elizabeth’s daughter was the famous ballerina Ninette de Valois, (real name Edris Stannus), who formed the Royal Ballet School.  It is fitting that Elizabeth be remembered in the place of her birth for her contribution to glass and 20th century design.  An article on the life of Elizabeth Graydon-Stannus will shortly be published in the IADA magazine.

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€1.75m doors set new Lalique record

A stunning example of Réné Lalique’s use of glass in architecture set a record in Sotheby’s Paris rooms when a set of doors sold for €2,024,750 in their 20th Century Design auction.  The doors were estimated at between €400,000 and €600,000 but far exceeded expectation when the record price was paid.  Known as “Porte Moineaux Chambranle Cranté” these doors were created for the 1929 Salon Des Artistes Decorateurs and comprised of two doors of four glass panels featuring sparrows in high relief.

They appeared in Vogue where they attracted the attention of Lady Trent, wife of Sir Jesse Boot of Boots chemists fame, who subsequently bought them.  Lady Trent, (Florence Boot), was an avid Lalique collector and held on to them until 1988 when they were sold by Sothebys to a private English collector.  They did not change hands again until November 2011 and the current owner who paid the record price is also a private collector.  The full story by Anne Crane can be found on…

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New Showroom

If you have not already heard i have moved to new premises on Francis Street and I now stock a wide spectrum of antiques from different eras as well as the Art-Deco and Art-Nouveau eras which i specialize in.  Come in and have a browse and if you have already been to new showroom please tell me what you think of it!

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The Elizabeth Taylor Collection

World records were achieved when the private jewel collection of Elizabeth Taylor was auctioned by Christies in an evening sale in New York on 13th of December.  The famous Taj Mahal Indian Diamond was a present from Richard Burton to Elizabeth on the occasion of her 40th birthday in 1972.  The heart-shaped diamond is large and flat with an Arabic inscription on either side and set in a jade and ruby pendant designed by Cartier.  When Burton first bought the diamond he remarked, “This diamond has so many carats it is almost a turnip! Diamonds are an investment, when people no longer want to see Liz and I on the screen we can sell off a few baubles.”  When Elizabeth Taylor died in March 2011 there was great speculation as to what would happen to her jewellery collection but the question was answered in December when Christies were trusted with the auction of her collection.  The Taj Mahal diamond finally sold for a cool $8,818,500 (€6,935,000) setting a new world record for price paid per carat.  To commemorate the occasion Christies are selling a deluxe limited edition box set containing her out of print book, “My Love Affair With Jewellery”, and the Christies catalogue of the evening auction.  The cost of this boxed set is $440 (€350) and all profits go to the charity established by Miss Taylor, “The Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation”.  If this is too expensive Christies also have a souvenir publication, “Elizabeth Taylor, A-Z”, which is a special tribute to the actress produced as an illustrated guide to her life and her collection.  The cost of this publication is $14 (€11) and full details can be found on

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Antiques Just Got Bigger

I am delighted to announce that I have moved to an impressive new showroom at 57 Francis Street, Dublin 8.


The new 2,000 sq. ft. showroom is home to a wonderul array of styles, from 1770 to 1970.

My stock continues to have a huge emphasis on small collectable items but I also stock a fantastic selection of larger pieces for dining rooms and living rooms. There truly is something here for every taste and budget.

Niall Mullen Antiques - New Showroom - 57 Francis Street Dublin 8

Niall Mullen Antiques - New Showroom - 57 Francis Street Dublin 8

All Stock Reduced at Old Showroom, 105 Francis Street, Dublin 8

My old showroom will remain open until the end of January 2012. All stock in this showroom has now been discounted. View the Special Offers Section of the website for more details.

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