Rare Irish Neolithic Bog Oak Dugout Canoe Leads Jim Lennon Collection Sale at Bonhams Edinburgh

One day in the 1970s, a Church of Ireland clergyman Reverend Con Auld was driving through rural county Fermanagh when he noticed a group of boys tending a bonfire. Curious, he stopped the car and discovered that the firewood consisted of bog oak canoes recently uncovered by contractors constructing a nearby road. Anxious that this this piece of Irish history should not be lost for ever, Rev Auld bought one of the canoes from the – doubtless bemused – youths and drove off with it in his trailer. This rare Irish Neolithic Bog Oak Dugout Canoe is among the highlights of The Jim Lennon Collection of Silver, Asian and European Works of Art to be offered at Bonhams Edinburgh on Wednesday 26 January. It is estimated at £2,000-3,000. The canoe, and all the other lots in the sale, are being offered at no reserve.

Jim Lennon built up his collection over 40 years in Northern Ireland and writing in the forward to the sale catalogue he explains his guiding principles: "I like to think that everything I bought showed skilled individual workmanship, whether in wood, stone, silver, ceramics or any other medium."

Bonhams chief representative in Ireland and Northern Ireland Kieran O'Boyle said: "It is great to see this intriguing collection from Northern Ireland coming to auction and given our ability to act locally and sell to our established international network, I would expect we will see many more collections like this from throughout the island of Ireland in the future."

Bonhams head of sale Gordon McFarlan said: "Jim Lennon's wonderful collection is an eclectic mix of fascinating objects which have caught his eye over the past 40 years. The sale is already exciting great interest and I know that it will appeal to collectors everywhere who appreciate individuality and quality."

Other highlights include:

• A Scottish silver Warwick vase by Mark Aitchison, Edinburgh 1877. The Warwick Vase was excavated from Hadrian's Villa at Tivoli in 1771, and dates to the second century AD. It was acquired by the 2nd Earl of Warwick, who built a specially commissioned conservatory in the grounds of Warwick Castle to house it. In 1978 the vase was sold to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York but an export licence was refused and funds were raised to keep it in the country. It now forms part of the Burrell Collection in Glasgow. Estimate: £3,000-4,000.

• An exceptionally rare early English leaded bronze posnet dating from the 13th or 14th Century. A posnet is a small pot with a handle and three legs. Estimate: £3,000-5,000.

• A George V silver centrepiece, Goldsmiths and Silversmiths company, London 1923. Estimate: £1,500-2,000.

• Two pairs of Sancai glazed Guardian Figures from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Estimate: £1,000-1,500.

• A massive Chinese celadon vase, Tianqiuping from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). Estimate: £1,000-1,500.

13 January 2022

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