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The Luck of the Irish

How a client’s table, found leaning against a wall in a garage, caused quite a stir when it came under the hammer at Philip Serrell Auctioneers’ sales' rooms in Malvern.

Philip Serrell Auctioneers and Valuers were recently asked by Andrew Grant to go and see a client who was thinking of selling a dining table. On arrival at the property – not unnaturally – Philip expected to find the table in the Dining Room; but this potential gem was leaning up against a wall in the garage. Not only that, but the table in question was in reality just a table top resting on a later base. So far – seemingly – not so good.

However things were about to change – upon inspection Philip realised that the table was made from Yew Wood that originated from trees that grew around Lake Killarney in Ireland. Furniture made out of Yew wood is rare in itself. This is in no small way down to the scarcity of yew as a timber – due to its berries being poisonous to cattle it tends just to grow in country house gardens and church yards – and also due to the great age it takes for a tree to reach maturity. This particular table was further enhanced by being inlaid with panels of named country Irish country houses and scenes. 

But it was in reality just a table top. Nonetheless it was just about the best table top you could see and come sale day, every Irish antiques’ dealer seemed to be either congregated in Malvern, on the auctioneer’s telephone, or poised with their mouse hovering over the bid button. The bidding quickly rose to £5,000 and after a determined battle the hammer eventually fell to a buyer in the room for £10,000. Philip Serrell was delighted with the price; as more importantly was Andrew Grant’s client. Clearly not every lot is a Killarney yew wood table – but you never know!

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