Entire contents of island house up for sale

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By Karrie Gillett

THE entire contents of an island mansion are going up for auction – with no minimum price set on the items.

Hundreds of antiques – some valued at £30,000 – are being sold as their owners move to a smaller house.

The Ainslie Collection features garden furniture, kitchen pots, Persian rugs and even a set of seven 19th century copper jelly moulds.

And with no minimum price tag, auctioneers are convinced bidders will net some fantastic bargains.

The unusual sale is taking place at the Edinburgh Lyon & Turnbull auction house where the massive haul of objects from the Isle of Bute house is on display.

Collectors Gilbert and Lillian Ainslie have put the contents of their Victorian island house Ascog Old Manse up for sale after deciding to have a ‘clean sweep’.

Mr Ainslie – who has been dealing in antiques since he was 14 – moved to Bute in 2004 in order to retire, but old habits die hard and he continued collecting antiques.

He said: “When Lillian and I moved to Bute to take things a bit easier, we ended up running a monthly antiques sale in Rothesay, which became well known in the area.”

Now, the couple have decided to move to Perthshire and are parting with all their personal belongings.

Mrs Ainslie, who spent almost a month polishing all the brassware, said : “It is going to be hard to part with our collection as each piece has its own story, but the time has come to let someone else look after it.

“I shall enjoy not doing all the dusting and polishing.”

Gavin Strang, director of Lyon & Turnbull, said the auction would be a rare and interesting treat for bidders, with items including Edwardian mustard pots, a George III mahogany clock and a mid 19th century cow horn. 

 Mr Strang said:  “In this day and age it is quite unusual to have the opportunity to say ‘everything must go’.

“There will be real bargains to be had as everything will be sold and the quality means some items could go at a great price for some bidders.

“There is something for every taste and wallet size.”

The highlights of the January 14 auction are being billed as a Demetre Chiparus Art Deco figure group ‘Bal Costume’, worth £30-50,000 and a pair of massive Japanese vases – estimated at £25,000 to £30,000.

The light blue cloisonné baluster vases stand at almost four feet and are decorated with flowers, pheasants and finches.

Mr Strang said: “I remember my first time to the isle to visit the Ainslies. Walking in to their house was like walking in to Aladdin’s cave. It was a real treat.

“There isn’t one aspect of the collection, they have interesting Japanese and Chinese pieces as well as some amazing oak Scottish country furniture.

“It’s very eclectic but all bound together by the very good quality.”

The sale also includes an extensive collection of metal ware, including a pair of 17th century Dutch brass candlesticks valued at £2,000-3,000.

Other unusual items expected to fetch hundreds of pounds include a small 19th century wooden wheelbarrow, an oak and brass salted pork barrel and a Georgian mahogany cutlery tray.

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