Antiques are the future for thousands at RDS fair
They were once sworn enemies, but a box presented to Charles Stewart Parnell by British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli is among the treasures at the 51st Antique Dealers' Fair this weekend.
Over 15,000 people are expected to descend on the world's second oldest antiques fair which runs until tomorrow at Dublin's RDS.
Antiques expert Niall Mullen said there was a "resurgence in the demand for quality furniture, linked to an upturn in the property market and the willingness of consumers to mix antique and contemporary pieces.
"People now recognise there are great alternatives when furnishing one's home or workplace."
But he added: "Anybody who comes in to my shop and asks whether something is a good investment, I ask them do they love the piece, and if they love it then that should be the starting point."
A €4,700 losenge pattern inlaid box from Niall Mullen's was reputed to be a present from Disraeli to his former adversary Parnell and bears the initials of both.
US interior design legend Carleton Varney heads a packed programme of expert speakers who will provide advice on everything from how to spot a forgery, to how to combine antiques with modern furniture at home.
The president of the renowned Dorothy Draper brand, he designed for five US first ladies in a row from Jackie Kennedy to Barbara Bush.
"I don't believe there's good taste or bad taste, there's just taste and the first room you remember when you were young is a foundation for your taste," said Mr Varney.
His design philosophy emphasises "the use of bright colours and the rejection of all that is impractical, uncomfortable and drab."
Unusual items at the fair include a unique Argyle jug for keeping gravy warm which is valued at €5,000, and an artisan builder's plumb bob from 1720 is valued at €3,500.
A 17th century foot-long silver spoon worth €45,000 from JW Weldon's carries the hallmark of Cork.