Rare copy of Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ sells for almost €10,000

Joan Herriott at the Fonsie Mealys Auctioneers rare book sale, which was held at the Gresham.

A rare first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses sold yesterday in Dublin for almost €10,000.

The limited-edition copy of Joyce’s famous work was sold under the hammer for €9,500 after less than a minute of bidding.

The book was part of a huge collection of modern Irish and international literature, belonging to retired Sligo doctor Philip Murray.

According to Dr Murray, his collection contained 2,200 first edition books and 50 letters from various authors including JK Rowling, Samuel Beckett, and Roald Dahl.

Dr Murray has spent the last 40 years building up his collection and corresponding with authors, who would sign the copies for him when he posted the books to them with a return address and a self-addressed envelope.

“I always specified that I wouldn’t sell the books without their permission, and that I would pay return postage.

“I had no refusals.

 George Fonsie Mealy, director of Fonsie Mealys Auctioneers at the rare book sale at the Gresham Hotel, Dublin, holding a signed copy of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Pictures: Fergal Phillips
George Fonsie Mealy, director of Fonsie Mealys Auctioneers at the rare book sale at the Gresham Hotel, Dublin, holding a signed copy of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Pictures: Fergal Phillips

“When Samuel Beckett got back to me, he said, ‘Under no circumstances will you pay for postage’,” Dr Murray told the Irish Examiner yesterday.

Also sold yesterday at the auction was a signed copy of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, for €4,800. The book was from the first English printed edition of the famous novel.

“To Kill a Mockingbird is very topical now. I picked that up in the States a number of years ago and then I wrote to her.

“I wrote to her publisher, she was an elderly woman at that stage and she wrote back and said she’d sign, so it’s inscribed to me,” Dr Murray said.

One book that was listed for auction in the 500-strong catalogue was a first edition of Ian Fleming’s Casino Royale, first published in 1953. It was listed with a guide price of between €4,000 and €5,000.

“There were ones I wanted to keep and when I came in this week and saw the books ready for auction I just decided to keep that one back.

“I have others at home that are very personal and private letters from very special people,” said the doctor.

 Brianna Shaw, aged 9, from Portstewart, Co Down, is enchanted by a JK Rowling novel at the sale.
Brianna Shaw, aged 9, from Portstewart, Co Down, is enchanted by a JK Rowling novel at the sale.

Other books that caused a stir at yesterday’s auction was a copy of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot which sold for €3,200 and a collection of Seamus Heaney poems that went for €2,300.

Auctioneer George Fonsie Mealy said the collection is one of the most interesting estates that he has worked with.

“It’s eclectic in every sense of the word, it incorporates letters, signed copies, limited editions of some of the most important rarities of modern Irish and international literature.

“We’ve had dealers from the United States and the UK over for the last two, three days, scrutinising very thoroughly, going through a lot of the books.

“It’s been interesting and a learning curve for all of us. It’s very rare to find a collection like this in Ireland.

“There’s a lot of interest in Ian Fleming, there’s a lot of interest in the Hemingway, Harper Lee’s first English edition of To Kill a Mockingbird,” he told the Irish Examiner.

Dr Murray admitted that it was a “sad” and “emotional day” for him.


Lifestyle

A Spectacular 28.86-carat ring, the largest D-colour diamond ever offered online, will come up at Christie's Jewels in New York from June 16-30.High value diamond adds serious sparkle to online sale

A whiff of new normality is in the air, writes Des O'SullivanAntiques: How to put a post-lockdown world in the frame

Buy everything on Michelle Darmody’s list and create five meals.One List, Five Meals: Irish stew with a twist; Yellow Pepper Omelette

‘There are two of us, in it together’From Chestnut to Sage - how family food businesses, real labours of love, are coping with Covid

More From The Irish Examiner