Whiskey Everywhere but not a Drop was Drunk!

The booze flowed in a sale at fine art auctioneers Peter Wilson…but not a drop was drunk. This was fine “Midlelton Very Rare Irish Whiskey” and the 30 bottles that passed under the hammer in last week’s two-day sale were purchased purely for investment purposes.

The purchaser was appropriately an Irish man who had travelled to the Nantwich, Cheshire, saleroom, while a Bolton buyer bidding on the internet secured rare bottles of St George’s Distillery Whisky and American Bourbon retailed by the English Whisky Co.

Together the 42 lots all sold, raising a total of £11,000 against pre-sale estimates of £5,000-7,000.

The delighted vendor, who lives in Staffordshire, had decided to cash in his collection to fund the purchase of a sports car. He had followed the classic investment route of buying two bottles of a certain vintage and drinking only one. The tactic paid off handsomely.

Most valuable single bottle proved to be the earliest Midleton in the collection dating from 1984 and complete with box, registration card and sleeve cover. It sold for £850 against an estimate of £350-540.

A bottle from the 2009 release sold for £600 or six times the presale low estimate, while bottles from 1992 and 1993 performed well, each selling for £500 against estimates of £150-250.

The whiskey is produced at a distillery Midleton, East Cork, and is matured for up to 20 years in old American bourbon oak barrels. New bottlings are produced annually, created specially by the master distiller from the whiskeys selected from the distillery’s warehouses.

The core success of this sale, however, was the continued strength of the market for Northern art, notably works by Manchester artist Geoffrey Key (b.1941) whose oils secured the top four prices in the section, sold on the second day of the auction.

Most wanted was “The Entertainers”, signed and dated ’13, 98.5 x 148.5cm, 38.75 x 58.5in, showing a dance troupe of two couples on a stage. It sold for £11,000, while its nearest contender was "Reclining Figure", signed and dated '89, on board, 61 x 91.5cm, 24 x 36in, which sold for £6,800.

A landscape "Bend in the River", signed and dated '08, 39 x 49.5cm, 15.5 x 19.5in, sold for £5,200 and a couple embracing in a work titled "Garden Wall I", signed and dated '93, on board, 72.5 x 52cm, 28.5 x 20.5in, sold for £4,700.

The clamour of buyers for signed, limited edition prints by L.S. Lowry shows no sign of abating, two copies of "Man Lying on a Wall", numbered 232/500 and 379/500 respectively selling for £3,500 and £3,400, both above the presale low estimate

"The Level Crossing, Burton On Trent", with a Fine Art Trade Guild blindstamp, from an edition of 850 sold for £2,600 against an estimate of £1,500-2,000.

Peter Wilson sales continue to champion antique English furniture, the highlight this time being the £2,000 achieved by a Victorian mahogany wind-out dining table with four extension leaves, all standing on five turned and fluted tapering legs with brass cup casters. It measured 122 x 487cm (48 x 152in) big enough for the grandest dinner parties.

An early 19th century Caernarfonshire bread and cheese cupboard (cwpwrdd bara caws) of oak construction with pine sides and back failed to sell on its first outing but rose to £1,100 this time out, more than the price it failed at last time and exceeding its presale estimate.

The cupboard’s top section had two three-panelled doors with fretted decoration, while the base had two drawers and two single panel cupboards, all with original steel hinges and locks, brass handles and polished pine shelves.

Rarities always sell well, even if they are in need of restoration. A George III mahogany artist’s desk with hinged rectangular top above a frieze containing three drawers and two hinged candle stands was in in a sorry state. Its leather inset was missing, its hinges damaged and four knobs were and a lock were missing, but it still achieved £850 against an estimate of £300-500.

Top priced lot in ceramics was a cup and saucer by doyenne of studio potters Lucie Rie (1902-1995), the brown glazed body with scratched liner decoration and impressed monograms, which sold for £2,200, a multiple of its estimate, while in a small selection of musical instruments, a violin by the French maker Honoré Derazey (1794-1883), sold with a dendrochronology dating the spruce belly to 1805, realised £3,800.

Entries of good quality furniture, antiques, works of art and collectors’ items are now invited for Peter Wilson’s July 5-6 sale. For further information, visit the website www.peterwilson.co.uk.