DUBLIN.- Famous dogs are a rare breed: Laika, the first dog in space and Greyfriars Bobby, the Skye Terrier, who guarded the Edinburgh grave of his owner for 14 years, are two. In the 1880s there was another world famous dog, Garryowen, an Irish Red Setter. His owner was Dubliner James J Giltrap, a great uncle of James Joyce, who began entering him in shows in 1879 and Garryowen began winning. He came to be regarded as the pinacle of hunting dog breeding. He travelled to international shows and won those too. His stud fee was a princely five guineas.
As his dogs fame grew and his trophy cabinet bulged, Giltrap commissioned a silversmith to make a champions collar, suspended with engraved medals representing each of Garryowens victories. Garryowen wore it in all subsequent show appearances. The collar is lot 43 in Whytes May 6 auction, estimate 800-1,200.
A Limerick firm of tobacco manufacturers, the Spillanes, were looking for a name for a new tobacco product they were launching when news arrived that Garryowen had won Grand Prix de Honeur of the Belgian Kennel Club. The tobacco was named Garryowen and it became the Setter of quality. Garryowen, wearing his champions collar, appeared on yellow enamel signs throughout the country. Three versions of the signs are lots 145-147, estimates range 150-400.
Garryowens obituary in The Chicago Tribune, 22 February 1890 described his show career: 'Champion Garryowen [was] the hero of every bench show in Europe until his death. Garryowen never had a rival worthy of the name. His record in brief is thirty-seven firsts, both champion and challenge prizes. He won the Grand Prix de Honeur of the Belgian Kennel Club as the best of 978 sporting dogs of all breeds, including five champions, eighty first-prize, forty-two second-prize, and fifteen third-prize winners, at Antwerp in 1884.' His portrait was commissioned by Col. J.K. Millner, from William Osborne RHA and is in the collection of the National Gallery of Ireland.
Garryowen now appears in the extended pedigree of nearly every Irish Setter anywhere in the world.
Joyce's Ulysses mentions Garryowen in three of the novels episodes ('Cyclops', 'Nausicaa', and 'Circe') and mentions one aspect of his personality which may have influenced those show judges, "Giltrap's lovely dog Garryowen that almost talked it was so human".
Swords from war-torn Japan
Part of the Allies policy of demilitarising Japan after the Second World War was the confiscation and destruction of all privately held weapons, including swords. The policy did not discriminate between a factory made blade and a blade hand-forged in the 15th century and passed down through generations of the same family, they were all gathered up and melted down in smelting furnaces. That is to say, almost all. Some swords survived, most through being captured by Allied soldiers. Today these swords are highly prized by connoisseurs.
A remarkable group of Japanese swords are included in Whytes Eclectic Collector auction on 6 May. They were brought out of Japan in 1945 by a United States Army colonel, Sean ODriscoll, who served on General Douglas MacArthurs staff. He and his wife settled in Paris after the War. After ODriscolls death, his widow gave the swords to the current owner, an Irishman who lived in the same apartment building.
Three of the swords are hand-forged and signed by the sword-smiths on the tang, the part of the blade which is hidden inside the hilt. The earliest blade dates from the 17th century; it is held in a plain wood holding scabbard and is decorated with a horimono, an engraving, of a dragon pursuing the pearl of wisdom. The most blood-curdling, lot 241, has an inscription relating how the blade was tested on a corpse. Lot 240 (below) is the most typical of the signed swords and is housed in a lacquer scabbard decorated with gold hollyhock symbols, signifying it was worn in the imperial court.
1916 Rising The Defence of Trinity College Cup
On 24 April, 1916 when gunfire erupted at various locations across Dublin, the gates of Trinity College were closed and locked and the University Officer Training Corps and any of the college staff with military service were deployed around the perimeter and on the rooftops.
For the week of the Easter Rising, these students and staff, assisted by regular British Army troops and a group of 14 Colonial soldiers from Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand defended the College. Their presence may or may not have saved the College from incursion by Irish Volunteers, but it almost certainly saved the businesses surrounding it in Grafton, Dame and Georges streets - from looting, damage or destruction. It was these businesses who funded the purchase of two large silver cups and 138 miniature replica cups from West & Co., Grafton Street to present to the defenders of the College. The miniature cups stand only 3½ tall, are hallmarked for Dublin, 1916, by West & Co. and engraved with the recipients name.
The cup offered in Whytes Eclectic Collector auction on 6 May was presented to Joseph Rankin. Rankin, a steward and gardener is recorded in the 1901 census as living at Clonageera, Durrow, Queen's Co with his son Joseph. The lot includes a second cup awarded to Rankins son for winning Best Shot of the recruits of the South Irish Horse in 1914. He was killed in France later that year. Estimate 2,500-3,000.
So good they named it.. three times?
Early maps are fascinating, especially for what they get wrong, like in the 1691 chart of the Pacific and West Coast of America which shows California as an island! The chart is lot 539 in Whytes Eclectic Collector auction of 6 May, estimate 1,000-1,500 and is one of a collection of early printed maps of America in the auction. Nicholas Visschers 1685 map of New England includes a view of a of a small coastal town named New Amsterdam. A windmill and a church vie for the tallest building. Nowadays the town is known for its tall buildings, the name permenantly changed to New York around the time the map was published. It remains the second earliest printed view of the settlement. Lot 538, estimate 2,500-3,000. There are over 50 other antique maps, from the 16th to the 19th centuries.
Place your bets!
One can only imagine the scenes that lot 33 in Whytes Eclectic Collector auction was witness to. It is a fairground roulette wheel, Victorian in style, which may have been in use up until the 1950s at point-to-points, fairs and carnivals around the country. The innocuous looking black tin case opens out to become a gaming table with brightly painted odds sheets and an elegant mahogany wheel with ivory handle. It can, of course, be folded away quickly if the boys in blue were to make an unwelcome appearance... Estimate 400-600.
This truly eclectic auction also includes historical artefacts, manuscripts, photographs including portion of The John Minihan Archive, posters, ephemera, militaria with an important collection of German badges and medals, antiquarian and collectable books, coins, banknotes, silver and vertu, etc.