Two well-known Dublin property developers fought it out by phone Tuesday to buy the brassbound mahogany bucket, which was auctioned by James Adam Salesrooms. The auction house had expected the bucket to fetch $34,000 at most.
According to Adam's director James O'Halloran, the bucket is special because of its size and its general quality. "It's very large -- you could fit a family in there -- it's beautiful timber and it's in lovely condition, which makes it rare. Rarity will always draw people out, but we certainly didn't expect it to break the ($170,000) mark."
A particularly Irish item of furniture, peat buckets were used to haul fuel from room to room and were designed to sit by the fireplace. Far larger than the traditional bucket, the one sold Tuesday is nearly 26 inches high and has a scallop shell on the front, a typical motif in Irish Georgian furniture, though not often found adorning buckets. The size and the decoration suggest that it was made for one of Ireland's grand houses.