An incredible array of historical collectibles including original footage of Ireland’s War of Independence, a membership card belonging to James Connolly, and a love token from WB Yeats to Maud Gonne are set to go to auction in Dublin.

The auction, hosted by Whyte’s in Dublin, includes historic objects dating from the 1916 Easter Rising, World War I and as far back as the Irish Volunteers of the 1790s. Among the lots up for auction are antiquities, artifacts, manuscripts, documents, printed ephemera, maps, prints, photographs, picture postcards, medals, militaria, weapons, newsreel films, antiquarian and collectible books.

Released with the details of the auction, scheduled for May 9, Whyte’s also issued their extraordinary catalog ahead of the viewing and sales.

Here are just some highlights:

Ireland’s War of Independence (1916-22) captured on film

These 300 minutes of restored film include footage of the 1916 Rising, 1919-21 War of Independence and Civil War, much of it unpublished. The subjects include: the 1916 Rising aftermath, the burning of towns and villages and destruction of creameries and businesses by the “Black and Tans,” the killing of Seán Treacy in Talbot Street, the 1922 Elections, the funeral of Michael Collins and much, much more. The 12 cans of safety film, and one of nitrate have an estimated value of between $162,036 and $194,444.

Jacob Baum, a Dublin based film distributor had a business buying cine film from freelance cameramen and selling it to newsreel companies.

The 1916 Enniscorthy Rising

In Enniscorthy, County Wexford, in 1916, around 200 Irish Volunteers took over the town, hoisted the Tricolour and severed road and rail links with the outside world. They held the town for a week before surrendering to British forces.

Michael Sutton was one of the Volunteers who rose and, like many of his comrades, went on to fight in the War of Independence. A group of four medals, together with his 1916 Veteran's card, Irish Volunteer's belt, a prison-made hat, his Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook named on the cover and his name marked in the text, and a photographic portrait of Michael Sutton in Irish Volunteers uniform are up for auction.

1916 Leader, James Connolly’s, Scottish Labour Party membership card, from 1892

The 1916 Easter Rising hero lived a hand-to-mouth existence in Edinburgh, his radical views and commitment to the labor movement made any kind of settled existence difficult. So his Scottish Labour Party membership card is an extraordinary piece of historical ephemera. Any documents relating to his early life are rare.

1916 (April 24 to 28) manuscript of a contemporaneous eyewitness account of the Rising by a Dublin solicitor

Written by Edward J. French, a solicitor whose practice was at 7 St. Stephen's Green, this very interesting account starts with the disruption of his train journey from Bray after a hill walk on the holiday Monday - "Sinn Feiners had seized the station in Dublin." At Kingstown he heard "policemen being shot and The Munster Fusiliers called up from camp had sided with the rebels," an acquaintance "Geo. Knox" was shot at Stephen's Green.

On Tuesday he heard firing at 5.30am and walked from his home in Donnybrook, where the police station was closed, and mentions barricades at the Shelbourne Hotel, a dead horse on the pavement, shooting between soldiers in the Shelbourne and rebels in the College of Surgeons "distinctly an unhealthy area" so he didn’t go to his office on the Green. He walked as far as Abbey Street and describes "the GPO garrisoned by rebels" with "the Republican flag" flying over it. He mentions an acquaintance "Browning ...having been shot ...returning from a march of the GR Volunteers".

He writes in good detail about the rest of the week including news from other acquaintances concerning rebels at Castlebellingham, "good deal of blood about" (on the Green), account of Sherwood Foresters ignoring warnings that they would be ambushed at Mount Street Bridge, "a good few were killed," gunboat shelling Bolands and "a shell came whizzing past" at Baggot Street, and much more.

1916 The Easter Rising, pictorial accounts

Two pictorial accounts of the aftermath of the Rising, "The Rebellion in Dublin" April, 1916 and "Dublin After the Six Days' Insurrection."

Irish Volunteer’s .303 Lee Enfield rifle and sword bayonet

A 1916 rifle that was reputedly captured by Martin Doyle in a raid on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks, in Abbey Square, Enniscorthy and replaced with his French 1874 Gras 11mm rifle which he had carried in the Rising in 1916.

Parnellite marching banner with motto by Oscar Wilde’s mother

The Irish National Land League was suppressed in 1882 so Charles Stewart Parnell established the Irish National League (INL) in October 1882 to replace it. Whereas the Land League had agitated for land reform, the National League also campaigned for Irish Home Rule, further enfranchisement and economic reforms.

The League was the main base of support for the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP), and under Parnell's leadership, it grew quickly to over 1,000 branches throughout Ireland. Lot 92 is a hand painted and gilt bullion embroidered Irish National League marching banner for the Carrickedmond, Co. Longford branch. The legend on reverse reads:

“Never Country Gained Her Freedom When She Sued On Bended Knee” (from the poem by ‘Speranza’, pen-name of Lady Wilde, Oscar’s mother)

A musical love token from W.B. Yeats to Maud Gonne

Yeats’ unrequited love for Maud Gonne inspired much of his greatest poetry. While they were never lovers, they were friends and collaborators. Yeats would give recitals of his poems accompanied by Maude Gonne playing on a harp given to her by him.

The parcel-gilt rosewood harp was later given by Maud Gonne MacBride to her friend Sile MacCurtain, daughter of Republican Tomas MacCurtain, who had started a school for harpists in Cork.


A viewing for this auction will take place at Whyte’s Galleries (38 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2), May 6 to 8. The auction will take place in the Freemasons Hall on Saturday, May 9 .

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