Seamus Heaney and James Joyce rarities go under the hammer

A signed manuscript of Seamus Heaney's poem, 'The Wishing Chair', sold for €1,400.

First editions from Seamus Heaney, James Joyce and Mark Twain were among the rare books under the hammer at Fonsie Mealy Auctioneer’s winter sale.

More than 800 lots of books, manuscripts, maps and works of art were auctioned at the Gresham Hotel, including previously unpublished notes and historical artifacts.

The standout lot from the auction was an “excessively” rare Benjamin Franklin imprint, going for €12,000. It was described as “an exquisite copy of this excessively rare volume, known only in a handful copies world wide.” The last copy sold at auction more than 70 years ago.

A rare collection of civil war casualty forms issued by the Irish Republican Army hammered out €3,600. Among the certificates for the eight deceased are five from the group known as ‘Sligo’s noble six’ who are said to have been murdered on Benbulben mountain after they surrendered during the civil war. The collection was originally expected to go for between €500 and €700.

James Joyce
James Joyce

An “extremely rare, possibly unique” 1922 proclamation sold for €1,800.

A signed manuscript copy of Seamus Heaney’s poem, ‘The Wishing Chair’, hammered out €1,400. The Nobel Laureate’s signature is dated 20 December 1989. A copy of his book “Door into the Dark” also exceeded its estimate, selling for €1,050.

A signed copy of A.A Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner fetched €3,200, twice the amount it was originally expected to sell at. A series of handwritten scripts produced by the poet and playwright Brendan Behan also shot up above its estimate,going for €6,000. The scripts, produced in 1952 for a Radio Eireann series, were originally estimated to be sold for €4,000.

Nineteen volumes of the works of Jonathan Swift containing unpublished letters and poems sold for 2,200; The collection was described as a “sought-after item”.


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