1916 Rising surrender order and rare florin in London sale
Document typed up in British army HQ and signed by Pearse estimated at £80,000
1916 Rising surrender order: It is not known exactly how many typed copies were produced, but it is thought to be in single figures
Two significant items from Irish history are to go on sale in London next month. A typed order of surrender, dated April 29th 1916 and signed by Patrick Pearse, is to be offered at Bonhams while one of the rarest modern coins to have ever circulated, a 1943 Florin, goes under the hammer at Dix Noonan and Webb.
The surrender document brought the 1916 Rising to an end. It was composed in haste at the British army headquarters and copies were distributed to rebel positions in Dublin and the outlying countryside by Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell, who had acted as go-between during the surrender negotiations, and members of the Capuchin community.
It is not known exactly how many typed copies were produced, but it is thought to be in single figures. Two surviving copies are held by the National Library of Ireland. Another, signed by Pearse and countersigned by James Connolly, is held at the Imperial War Museum, London. There are also known to be three hand-written drafts.
Writing in the summer 2017 edition of Bonhams magazine Ronan McGreevy, Irish Times reporter and editor of the forthcoming official State book Centenary: Ireland Remembers 1916, explains the significance of the order: “The terse document expresses Pearse’s belief that he would certainly be executed, but that all the others would be spared. Instead the British executed 15 leaders, including Pearse, and imprisoned thousands. This brutal military fiat turned Irish public opinion against British rule in Ireland exactly as the rebels had hoped.”
In this copy, which will come under the hammer at Bonhams Fine Books, Atlases, Manuscripts and Photographs sale on June 14th, the word “to” is typed as “tp”, illustrating the urgency with which the document was created. This particular copy also bears a stamp featuring the Tricolour which was printed by the rebels at the time of the Rising. It depicts William Allen, Michael Larkin and William O’Brien – the Manchester Martyrs – who were hanged for killing a police constable during a failed rescue attempt of two Fenian prisoners. The stamp was possibly affixed to authenticate the order, but may equally have been added at a later date. It is estimated between £80,000 and £100,000. See bonhams.com for further details.
An example of the 1943 Irish florin is to be auctioned by Dix Noonan Webb, the international coins, medals and jewellery specialists, in a sale of coins, tokens and historical medals on June 15th.
With the price of silver bullion rising, and the second World War looking bleak for the Allies, neutral Ireland decided that 1943 would be the final year for its 75 per cent silver coinage. No 1943 shilling was minted, and only a limited supply of that year’s florins and half-crowns were struck by the Royal Mint in London. It is thought that just one bag of 1,000 Irish silver florins with a face value of £100 was sent to Dublin in 1943.
Only about 40-50 of these are now believed to be available to collectors, the rest having been returned to the Royal Mint to be melted down. Unlike some other Irish rarities such as the 1985 20 pence piece and the 1992 10 pence piece which were minted purely for testing purposes, including calibrating vending machines, the 1943 florin actually went into circulation. The coin to be auctioned at Dix Noonan Webb is described as “bold fine, toned, very rare”. It is expected to fetch £8,000 to £10,000. See dnw.co.uk for more details.