A recent find in a County Louth garden shed has proven true the adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and on March 21 the vendor hopes to cash in big when these three rare tobacco advertising mirrors make their way to the auction block at County Cavan-based Victor Mee Auctions.
The mirrors – sold to the local gentleman by an employee of the former Carroll’s Tobacco Factory in Dundalk – were stored in his garden shed over twenty years ago and were repurposed to plug holes in the structure. Unaware of the value of the items, he was recently astounded by the estimates given to the mirrors by Victor Mee and his team.
“These mirrors were sold to me by an employee of Carroll’s Tobacco Factory in Dundalk, which has since ceased operation,” he said. “They were always stored in our garden shed, and we don’t know much more about them.”
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The significance of Carroll’s factory can still be felt in Dundalk today. Founded over 190 years ago, Carroll’s grew from a small shop to one of the largest employers of the region, employing up to 1,750 members of staff at its peak. The conditions of employment were second to none for the time, with all employees receiving free health care – and free cigarettes.
“These mirrors are some of the rarest and best quality mirrors I have seen in my lifetime as an auctioneer,” said Victor Mee, auctioneer and owner, Victor Mee Auctions Ltd.
Mee explained, “This type of advertising would have been given out to various bars, groceries, and tobacconists from the manufacturers, and these premium mirrors would have featured in some of the highest turnover shops in the country because of their size and decorative nature.
“The advertising potential of such mirrors would have been huge for the manufacturers and the brands they represented. They would have been expensive to produce at the time; made by carvers, gilders and glass merchants and treated as a form of art. Many of these 19th century mirrors did not survive due to the size and condition of where they would have been kept after the closure of tobacco shops.”
The collection of highly sought-after mirrors includes a Smokers Players Navy Cut Cigarettes advertising mirror (estimated to sell for between €2,500 and €3,500), an Ogden’s Guinea Gold Cigarette mirror (estimated €2,000 to €3,000) and Hignett’s Tobacco Night and Morning Two Flake advertising mirror (estimated €2,500 to €3,500).
Some of the top publicans and private collectors from around the world are expected to gather to bid on these mirrors in Victor Mee Auctions’ upcoming sale on Wednesday March 21.
“Having one of these mirrors in your bar or private collection would be the equivalent of having a Jack B Yeats to an art collector.
“The exceptional interest in this sale just goes to show you never know what you might find hidden away in your shed, attic or garage!” added Mee.
To view the full catalogue of listings in the March 20 Fine Arts and Antique Furniture and March 21 Advertising, Pub Memorabilia and Vernacular Furniture sale visit www.victormeeauctions.ie.