With over 900 lots Whytes
9 March auction of History, Literature and Collectibles is a treasure trove for niche collectors. The range of material is staggering: archaeology to cinema posters, historical manuscripts to model soldiers, old guns and swords to comic books, and on and on.
The History section of the sale starts at 150 million years BC with a collection of fossils found in County Kilkenny [lot 1, 300-500), and ends with a 2007 Northern Ireland Assembly document signed by leaders and prime ministers [lot 420, 2,000-3,000]. In between the sale rushes through the centuries from a circa 1450 stone carving from the De Burgo estate in County Galway [lot 11, 500-700], to circa 1610 maps of Ireland [lots 14-17, 150 to 300 each], and a 1726 Penal Times wooden crucifix [lot 37, 1,000-1,500], through to the 1798 Rebellion with original eye witness accounts, both manuscript and printed [lots 62-68 150 to 700 apiece].
The 19th century was a tumultuous time in Ireland. This section covers the Fenian Rising including attractive bonds sold in America and redeemable six months after the acknowledgement of the Independence of the Irish Nation [lots 113-119, 150 to 600 each] as well as The Great Famine including a 14 July 1847 letter from the Irish Relief Committee in New York reporting the despatch of 195 Bushells of Indian Corn meal on the British brig Thomas and William bound for Galway for distribution amongst the suffering poor in Ireland [lot 103, 600-800].
Great Irish heroes of the 19th century such as Daniel OConnell, John OMahony and Charles Stuart Parnell are represented by various memorabilia including signed documents. A dramatic £10 Reward poster of 1841 seeks information on the Rockites, a band of working class Irish revolutionaries [lot 96, 200-300] while rare 1883 police photographs of two of the Invincibles, another extreme group, look quite menacing [lot 145, 300-500].
The section on the 20th century starts with collections of early Irish picture postcards including a series of 1908-12 views of The Monastery of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge, Gloucester Street better known as the infamous Magdalene Laundry [lot 195, 100-150].
This year is the centenary of the so-called Great War in which nearly 50,000 Irish soldiers perished. Posters encouraging young Irishmen to join the British forces [lots 216-217, 200 to 300 each) are included here, as are groups of medals awarded to members of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Connaught Rangers [lots 43-442, estimates from 50 to 250].
On the other side of the political divide Whytes auction tracks the progress of Irish revolution in the early 20th century including a unique 1907-11: Sinn Féin National Council minute book, [lot 224, 2,000-3,000] as well as a collection of letters and ephemera related to the 1913 Lockout [lot 225, 200-300. A 1907 letter handwritten by Pádraig Pearse [lot 228, 1,200-1,500] and a 1902 poetry book written by Thomas MacDonagh and autographed by him [lot 232, 1,000-1,500], will be sought after as rare mementoes of two of the 1916 Proclamation signatories.
There are many items from the 1916 Rising including a 26 April Proclamation of Martial Law poster issued by General Friend, commander of British troops in Ireland [ lot 234, 1,500-1,800], an eyewitness account of how the Rising affected the wealthy denizens of Ballsbridge [lot 234A, 1,500-1,800], as well as a Juror notice for the Inquest on Roger Casement, which took place hours after his hanging [lot 240, 800-1,200] and postcards from Irish Volunteer prisoners [lot 237, 100-150]. With the centenary coming up soon these valuable pieces of history will become more and more sought after.
The War of Independence 1919-21 started with the killing of two policemen at Soloheadbeg in County Tipperary. Whytes include a poster offering a reward of
One Thousand Pounds for information or Three Thousand Pounds for
any secret information with free pardon to anyone privy to the murder of the two constables [lot 269, 500-700]. A revolver once belonging to Eamon de Valera [lot 289] is on offer at 500 to 700 while a large original photograph of Michael Collins [lot 297] is expected to make 100 to 150.
Later in the century the 1932 General Election is represented by a unique collection of Cumann na nGaedhal (later Fine Gael) posters [lots 334-360, 100 to 300 each]. There was no subtlety in their vitriolic abuse of Fianna Fáil and its leader, Eamon de Valera. Despite the posters, the Government Party, as it styled itself, led by President William Cosgrave, lost and wouldnt return to power for sixteen years.
A nostalgic section on the 1960s includes an original election poster for John F Kennedy [lot 380, 400-500] and a 1962 poster for the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, with a dress hand painted over Ursula Andress in a bikini, the dying vestige of Irish censorship! [lot 383, 600-800].
Rare books in the Literature section include a rare first edition of Dracula by Irish writer Bram Stoker [lot 621, 5,000-7,000] and a first edition of Charles Dickens Oliver Twist [lot 551, 4,000-6,000. A collection of scarce first and limited editions by Seamus Heaney, many signed by him are also on offer at Whytes [lots 557-584, 100 to 1,200 each].
The highlight of the sporting memorabilia section of Whytes auction has to be a complete Eddie Irvine Jaguar racing outfit including helmet worn during the Monaco Grand Prix, when Irvine placed third, securing Jaguar Racings first podium finish [lot 681, 5,000-7,000]. Also on offer are a 1967 All Ireland Final hurling medal to Kilkenny for their first victory over Tipperary since 1922 [lot 633, 1,500-2,000] and a series of early Irish Free State soccer programmes including the infamous match at Dalymount in 1936 against Nazi Germany [lot 640, 400-600].
Despite their demise in 1939 there are still collectors of cigarette cards. These were small illustrated cards inserted into cigarette packets from the 1890s to 1939. After World War I a few companies revived them briefly. Some other manufacturers such as Chivers in Ireland kept producing them up to the 1960s. The cards were in sets of 25 to 50 usually, and were avidly collected and swapped by schoolboys. Subjects included sporting heroes, film and radio stars, cars, trains, racehorses, dog breeds, and hundreds of other subjects. In 1996 Whytes held a one-owner sale of cigarette cards which realised in the region of £150,000, still a world record nearly twenty years later. In the 9 March sale Whytes have a large collection of several thousand here, broken up into sets or ranges of sets. The lots range from 60 for a collection of Soccer cards [lot 886] to 1,000 to 1,500 for a set of 52 Ogdens Beauties & Military issued in 1898 [lot 871]. Even a set of Liam Devlin cards of Irish Entertainers issued with cigarette shaped sweets in the 1950s and 1960s is expected to make 100 to 150 [lot 890]