'Extremely rare collection' of iconic pieces from Louth pub

Clermont arms

David Lynch


David Lynch

'Extremely rare collection' of iconic pieces from Louth pub

Rare chance to bid on iconic historic pieces from Louth pub

Fans of local pub memorabilia and many other historically iconic pieces will have the chance to own artifacts from what has been described as a ‘Louth institution’ - the Clermont Arms pub in Blackrock - thanks to an upcoming auction.

The team behind family-run Cavan auction house Victor Mee Auctions have announced a once-in-a-lifetime collection of pieces scheduled to hit the auction block for their two-day sale on Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st July. 

Titled ‘The Clermont Collection Rare Advertising, Pub Memorabilia and Architectural Fittings,’ the sale – which is sure to be the highlight of any avid collector’s summer – offers bidders the chance to own pieces of the history of the iconic Louth institution, the Clermont Arms pub, Blackrock. 

The Clermont Collection has been carefully developed over the last 30 years, housed within The Clermont Arms, and is now being sold at auction. The wide variety of pieces included in the collection includes show-stopping advertising mirrors, vintage showcards, figurines, bar fixtures and fittings, whiskey bottles, confectionary cabinets and enamel advertising all produced between the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The Clermont Arms has been at the heart of Blackrock Village since 1880 and was established by local landlord Thomas Fortescue. In later years renowned collector, the late Paddy Smith, took ownership of the much-loved pub and spent the next 25 years collecting fascinating and high-quality pieces of advertising and memorabilia for his pub, painstakingly sourced from sellers across the country. Victor Mee’s ‘The Clermont Collection’ sale will not only see Paddy Smith’s full collection sold at auction but will also offer interested bidders the chance to take home the original early 20th century bar counters and architectural fittings from the iconic Blackrock pub. 

Commenting on the exciting chance to oversee and execute the sale auctioneer and proprietor Victor Mee said, “This may be one of the rarest collections I have come across in over 40 years in the industry, the likes of this may never be seen again in Ireland. It is extremely rare to see a single owner collection like this on to the market. Typically, over time, mass collections like this are usually broken up, given to family members or forgotten about.”

Whiskey fit for a rock star

A star lot within the ‘The Clermont Collection Rare Advertising, Pub Memorabilia and Architectural Fittings’ is an 1880s bottle of Cassidy & Co. Monasterevin whiskey, matured by the Cassidy family who made whiskey from 1784 until 1921 at their County Kildare mill. In recent years, the Ballykelly Mill has been restored by businessman and property investor Paddy McKillen, with support from U2 frontman Bono who has been named as an investor to help revive Monasterevin’s rich heritage in producing the finest whiskey going back to the 18th century.

This bottle of Cassidy & Co. Monasterevin whiskey is sure to light up the eyes of any whiskey lover or collector in Victor Mee Auctions’ upcoming July sale. In addition, ‘The Clermont Collection’ sale will also see a rare early 20th century Irish copper whiskey still go to auction. The whiskey still is roughly 300 litres and would look great displayed in a bar or may also be of interest to whiskey distilleries to utilise in their current development. 

“Whiskey is another area of expertise for us at Victor Mee Auctions and selling extremely rare bottles of whiskey is becoming a common occurrence for us, much to our delight! We are looking forward to offering up such a unique bottle of whiskey as part of ‘The Clermont Collection’ sale, which has virtually been given the seal of approval from such a globally-known Irish Rockstar!” added Bryan Mee. 

Diverse collection of Victorian show cards and advertising 

In addition to pub fittings and whiskey pieces, bidders can expect an array of advertising show cards, signs and mirrors within ‘The Clermont Collection Rare Advertising, Pub Memorabilia and Architectural Fittings’. Having such a large number of advertising pieces within one collection is uncommon, making this assortment very unique. 

The late 19th century saw the birth of advertising as mass manufacturing and new production methods resulted in a competitive market. Manufacturers began to look for methods to differentiate themselves from others and influence consumers to buy their products instead of competitors’. Their weapon of choice was to create effective advertising campaigns involving the use of targeted slogans, images and phrases printed on showcards and mirrors – commonly displayed in pubs throughout the country and frequently swapped out for the newest edition.

The diverse collection of Victorian showcards appearing in Victor Mee Auctions’ July auction include: 

- A collection of rare 1920s Mick McQuaid tobacco showcards
- ‘Great Men, Great Thinkers, Great Smokers’ Gallaher advertising print
- Gallaher Rich Dark Honeydew tobacco pictorial advertising showcard
- Marsh & Co. biscuits pictorial advertising showcard

Advertising mirrors are a firm favourite with bidders at Victor Mee Auctions and are a great way to add some vintage character to any home or outhouse. The upcoming auction will include: 

- A pair of James McKendry of Ballymena advertising mirrors – importer of the finest wines demerara and Jamaica rum – importer of the finest wines, brandy and gins 
- Two John Powers whiskey mirrors
- Persse’s Galway Whisky advertising mirror
- Castlereagh Whisky W.H. Teggart limited Belfast advertising mirror

Commenting on the collection of advertising pieces that will be offered up to auction-goers, Victor Mee said “Advertising of this nature was produced on a mass scale, with clients using the advertising pieces for a short period of time before throwing them away. Now that the world revolves around online advertising and social media to attract consumers, these Victorian signs have become highly-collectable historical artefacts.” 

Historical and political signage 

Irish historical items will also be up for grabs within the ‘The Clermont Collection Rare Advertising, Pub Memorabilia and Architectural Fittings’ sale including a collection of Bilingual brass door plates and brass letter box plates originally from Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO). A recurring feature in Ireland’s history, the GPO was a main stronghold for the Irish Volunteers during the 1916 Rising and whilst standing for over two centuries it still continues to successfully fulfil its original purpose as the Irish Post Office headquarters.

Various other pieces of historical signage originating from areas outside of the capital city, including a 1925- 1926 Calendar depicting a Map of the Dundalk districts and locally printed business adverts, will also be available to interested bidders, with each lot sure to evoke memories of times past in Ireland’s colourful history.

Commenting on ‘The Claremont Collection’ as a whole Bryan Mee said: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to find new homes for such a large single-owner collection of advertising, collectable memorabilia and architectural pieces from such a well-known Irish establishment. It is very rare that we come across a collection as vast as this one from The Claremont Arms and we are excited to see how much interest it receives from bidders across Ireland and further afield as once again bidders log in from as near as Cavan and as far as Hong Kong for the chance to own a piece of our history.”