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Yesterday I was talking about the stories behind four “1916-related” collectibles from Ireland, and asked you to guess the final hammer prices – what they actually fetched at auction in Dublin five years ago. The answers are…

  • The ball of twine (Lot 135): €140
  • The enamel sign (Lot 31): €1,500
  • The target practice card (Lot 523): €1,600
  • The handwritten restaurant menu (Lot 591): €4,200

Strictly speaking most of these 1916 memorabilia are not just collectibles but antiques, as many of them are now at least a century old. I’m not a collector, but these objects are clearly much sought after so long as they have the right 1916 connection, and they can range from uniforms and guns to medals, letters, newspapers, RIC whistles and batons and so on.

In the run-up to the centenary of the Easter Rising, forthcoming major auctions in Dublin include ones at Whyte’s (13 March), Adam’s in St Stephen’s Green (19 April), and Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers (23 April, in the Gresham Hotel opposite the GPO).

The Proclamation

Among the most expensive and elusive items in 1916-theme sales are copies of the Easter Rising Proclamation. It’s not quite the Holy Grail but I guess it’s a reasonably good indicator of the ups and downs of the market for these objects.

By 2008 an original copy of the Proclamation would fetch €240,000. Then the Celtic Tiger bubble burst: that very same copy sold for €240,000 in 2008 was resold at Adam’s in 2014 for just €90,000.

Then again, last December another copy of the Proclamation fetched £305,000 (about €420,000) at Sotheby’s in London. So the market seems to be in a mad bubble again. And bubbles always burst in the end…

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