From tractors and time machines to Henry and Yeats

A quintessential Paul Henry and two works by Jack B Yeats are currently for sale, alongside some unusual offerings

If ever there was a week to showcase the wide variety of ephemera that comes to the Irish auction world, this one would be a fine place to start. Tractors, trailers and time machines are coming up for sale, with important works by Paul Henry and Jack B Yeats, along with Froggy Bottom guitars from a gentleman’s library.

Tractors first. This Monday and Tuesday, October 24th and 25th, auctioneer Aidan Foley, in conjunction with Niall Mullen, will hold a sale of hundreds of implements and farm machinery collected by octogenarian Tommy Shannon in Cavan over the past seven decades. The live online auction will take place at MacSeains Pub and Golf in Cornafean, Co Cavan.

The selection of tractors includes a 1947 Field Marshall Series 2 (€10,000-€15,000), along with forklifts, vintage jerry cans and all sorts of tools, while the sale also lists a rare “International Time Machine” in the catalogue of 1,200 lots.

With a €400-€600 estimate, the time machine cannot transport you into the past or the future, but it does have an interesting place in horological and technological history.


International Time Machines were master clocks manufactured between 1910 and 1940 by the International Time Recording Company, which used state-of-the-art technology as they were used in large manufacturing environments. The company merged into the Computing-Tabulating Recording Company, which was the forerunner of IBM, now one of the world’s largest technology companies. See

More scientific instruments can be found in Sheppard’s Gentleman’s Library sale, a live online sale this Thursday, October 27th. A 19th-century mahogany hydrometer is listed at €100-150, while a collectable Sanderson Box camera is seeking €500-€800.

The sale has some family portraits from the Smithwick collection, along with long stemmed glassware and a ewer engraved for Edmund Smithwick (€200-€300).

The top lot in Sheppard’s sale is a Gervais-Maximilien-Eugene Durand commode in Louis XVI style. Durand was commended as a cabinet maker when he took the silver medal at the 1889 Paris Exposition Universelle, and was the first of three generations of highly successful craftsmen in cabinetry (€15,000-€20,000).

In French Empire style, which was popular under the reign of emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, is an ormolu mounted library chair (€4,000-€6,000). Though unsigned, Sheppard’s believes it to be in the manner of George Alphonse Jacob-Demalter.

Highlights from the second part of Sheppard’s sale, which focuses on musical instruments, include two Froggy Bottom guitars, listed at €5,000-€7,500 each. Nothing to do with amphibian derrières, the American specialist company only produces about 75 handmade instruments a year, which explains the estimates. See

Morgan O’Driscoll’s upcoming Irish and International Art sale, which is currently open online ending November 1st, has a good selection of works by collectable artists.

A quintessential landscape by Paul Henry, Village By the Marsh, depicts his signature blue mountain over a bog under billowing bulbous clouds. It is almost certainly Achill Island, a point reiterated by Peter Murray in the catalogue notes, as he asserts that the composition is similar to a number of works the artist executed on the west of Ireland island.

Estimated at €200,000-€300,000, it was exhibited at Jack B Yeats and Paul Henry: Contrasting Visions of Ireland, at the Hunt Museum in Limerick in 2017, as well as The Birth of Modernism in Irish Art 1920-1960 at the State Apartments in Dublin Castle in 2019.

But, when it was painted almost a century ago, it also formed part of a body of work in the Paul Henry, Recent Paintings show in Dublin in 1935. While Henry is now considered as one of Ireland’s blue-chip artists, back then his reputation was as an advertising man. He had accepted commissions for tourist posters based on watercolour paintings, the most famous of which are for the London Midland and Scottish Railway, who ran a ferry to Ireland.

The sale lists two oils by Jack B Yeats: Through the Woods to the Sea (€50,000-€70,000), and My River (€60,000-€80,000). With sweeping swirling masses of colour, My River depicts Benbulben in the background, with the Drumcliff river entering the sea around Rosses Point. Not only was this part of the country where Yeats spent much of his childhood, his grandfather served as rector of Drumcliff Church, and his brother William Butler is interred in the cemetery there.

Other notable works include The Big Tree, Bantry Bay, by Letitia Hamilton (€10,000-€15,000), and a superb Sean Keating, La Flamande, from 1917 (€20,000-€30,000). Keating took over as President of the Royal Hibernian Academy after the passing of James Sinton Sleator, who died of a heart attack on the steps of the Academy House in 1950.

Sleator himself is also represented with his work, Still Life – Fruit and Vegetables on a Table (€5,000-€7,000). No doubt industry eyes will be watching William Scott’s Blue and Brown Still Life with Knife (€20,000-€30,000), after the €110,000 realised for Scott’s Chinese Orange III at Whyte’s sale in September. See

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables