Auction of a musical collection so large they bought the cottage over the road to house it

Art Deco Bakelite Ekco Valve Wireless 1930s vintage round radio, estimated at €400-800 in the Victor Mee January 30-31 auction.

Collecting often leads to a certain obsession, as many enthusiasts with attics filled to burst or garages stuffed with boxes will admit. Take the example of a group now forming 700 lots to be dispersed at an Irish sale.

Extracted from Antiques Trade Gazette | Tom Derbyshire

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Victor Mee Auctions’ first two-day sale of the year on January 30-31 includes the Cottage Collection private museum of gramophones, radios and other musical artefacts, formerly open to the public in Ardattin Village, Co Carlow.

Jimmy Quinlan’s urge to collect and fascination with restoration began at a young age when he built his own radio out of old parts during his school years. As he grew older, Jimmy and his late wife Frankie spent much of their time travelling in their 1973 vintage camper, touring all over Ireland and England and amassing many collectible and antique items on their travels.

As his collection grew, Jimmy began restoring to pristine condition the majority of the items he rehomed – many either run down or abandoned when he acquired them. The collection began as a hobby, but as it grew it took over their family home, with Jimmy stowing trinkets in all spare spaces and on all surfaces.

Their growing collection was taking over to such an extent that the Quinlans bought a derelict cottage across the road from their home in 1992 to house their domestic artefacts dating back as far as the 1700s. In 1994 they opened the property up to the general public as The Cottage Collection, and the unique museum soon built a name for itself among both local and international visitors.

Radio curiosities

Key items going under the hammer include three Second World War German radios, a 1930s Raymond Leowy Radio in the form of a New World colonial globe, a rare telephone by Dictograph telephones, London, and two 1930s Bakelite Ekco circular radios.

Domestic artefacts also on offer include a rare 19th century coffee grinder, the Ronning electrical footwear dryer and a braille type writer.

Jimmy said: “Many tourists have taken delight in stepping back in time and revelling in the vast collection of forgotten household items housed within The Cottage Collection, with guests coming from all over the world – even as far as Australia and America.

“The collection has brought me a lot of happiness for many years and it has been great to see it grow in to the vast collection it is today, however it is now time to let these pieces go to new homes and join other rare collections across the world.”

Drinking cap on

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The auction house is based in Cloverhill, Belturbet, Co Cavan. The saleroom offers many items relating to Irish history at its auctions, especially pub memorabilia and whiskey.

On January 30-31, separate from the Cottage Collection, other highlights include a large Mitchell’s Tam O‘Shanter Tobacco advertising mirror standing 8ft high x 3ft wide (2.44 x 91cm), and an “extremely rare” Crowbar Tobacco pictorial advertising sign.

A rare selection of Irish whiskey includes an early 20th century free state bottle of John Jameson whiskey sourced from a private collector who is downsizing their collection, which is estimated at €3000-6000.

“Irish whiskey is an area which is becoming increasingly popular for Victor Mee Auctions,” added auctioneer Victor Mee. “We are regularly surprised by the rare and unique bottles presented to us for sale by individual collectors, and even more excited by our continuously-growing base of global bidders who have snatched up historic bottles of Irish whiskey from as far as the United States, continental Europe and even Hong Kong.”