Big demand for rare books


WHYTE’S MAMMOTH auction of the stock of the late antiquarian book dealer James Fenning last weekend raised €230,000.

Auctioneer Ian Whyte said 64 per cent of the 1,400 lots sold but that figure rose to 83 per cent when measured by value.

The sale brought an end to over a century of Dublin bookselling by the Fenning family. The top lot, published in 1737 but eerily topical, was a rare copy of a pamphlet by Jonathan Swift titled A proposal for giving badges to the beggars in all the parishes of Dublin published in 1737 which sold for €7,400 (€6,000-€7,000). A set of five Jane Austen novels (the first one-volume illustrated editions of 1833) made €3,500 (€1,500-€1,800).

Another unexpectedly topical volume Views in Affghaunistaun, a collection of sketches by Sir Keith Jackson made during the first Afghan war and published in 1841 sold for €3,100 (€1,500- €2,250). A copy of the Bible, printed in Dublin in 1714 made €3,400, significantly above its estimate of €600-€800.

Further rare and collectable volumes will go under the hammer at 11am next Wednesday (October 31st) in Oliver Usher’s Auction Rooms, John Street, Kells, Co Meath.

Among the lots are a signed, limited edition of Essays by WB Yeats published in 1924 and estimated at €1,200-€1,500, the two-volume Irish Folk-History Plays by Lady Gregory (€1,000-€1,500), and a copy of a special limited edition of poet Thomas Kinsella’s translation of The Táin, with drawings by Louis le Brocquy (€1,500-€2,000).

– MP