Two Irish ‘freedom’ boxes, presented to Sir John Blanquiere c.1775: the example on the top row sold for £4000 at Swan Fine Art, and the one shown below fetched £2700.

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Estimated at just £100-200 each, they were bid to much higher sums.

Both were presented to the Honourable Sir John Blanquiere K.B. Principal Secretary to his Excellency Earl Harcourt Lord Lieutenant General Governor of Ireland. Later raised to the peerage as Baron de Blaquiere of Ardkill following support for the Act of Union, he served as Chief Secretary for Ireland alongside Viceroy Simon Harcourt, 1st Earl Harcourt (1714-77), between 1772-76.

One unmarked box, engraved to the cover with the town crest of Belturbet and to the base with a presentation inscription, had been a gift from the Provost and Burgesses of Belturbet in Co Cavan. It took £4000.

The other box, this one with the maker’s mark BS and the Dublin crowned harp, carried the crest of the Guild of Sheerman and Dyers. It was presented to Blanquiere on Jubilee Quarter Day, September 6 1775 by The Woollen and Linen Manufacturers of Dublin in gratitude for his efforts To Promote the Trade Manufacturers of This Kingdom. It sold for £2700.