Flann O’Brien’s writing desk expected to make €1,000

Harry Potter books, James Joyce manuscript and GAA medals also feature in Mealy’s sale

A watercolour painting of Flann O’Brien’s writing desk is to be sold with the actual desk.

A watercolour painting of Flann O’Brien’s writing desk is to be sold with the actual desk.

 

“I am completely half afraid to think,” Flann O’Brien wrote in The Third Policeman. What the famously acerbic writer would think about people rummaging about in his desk, we’ll never know; but for anyone with an interest in the life and work of Brian O’Nolan, here’s the perfect opportunity to do exactly that.

The author’s large mahogany secretaire comes under the hammer at Fonsie Mealy’s Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts and Sporting Collectibles sale on Tuesday, May 30th.

The bookcase-cum-desk, with its two glazed doors and pullout writing drawer, is for sale together with a watercolour painting of it by the author’s brother Micheál Ó Nualláin, and some family photographs (Lot 609, €700-€1,000).

The poet objected to the cover image, which shows him wearing a flat cap and stained shirt, so the issue was pulped

An archive of five large folders of texts and documents, containing letters, the author’s death certificate and unpublished material including a proposal for a television detective series, Lot 608, has an estimate of €6,000-€8,000.

James Joyce

The sale features a number of lots relating to the best-known section of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, Anna Livia Plurabelle, which was published ahead of the novel as “Work in Progress”. An original manuscript page of 16 lines from the opening of Anna Livia Plurabelle, Lot 580 carries an estimate of €7,500 -€10,000.

There is also a signed, limited edition of a 1928 printing of the piece with a preface by Padraic Colum (Lot 577, €1000-€1,500); an original recording of Joyce reading the last four pages of Anna Livia Plurabelle (Lot 578, €400 -€600); and a first edition of Finnegans Wake from the 1939 printing of 3,400 copies, of which 950 copies were destroyed (Lot 579, €700-€900).

Lady Gregory’s own copy of Yeats’s ‘Poems Written In Discouragement’ (Lot 553, €2,500-€4,000)
Lady Gregory’s own copy of Yeats’s ‘Poems Written In Discouragement’ (Lot 553, €2,500-€4,000)

From the library of Mrs Catherine Kennedy, the grand-daughter of Lady Gregory and the daughter of Robert Kennedy – who was the subject of Yeats’s poem An Irish Airman Foresees His Death – comes Lady Gregory’s own copy of Yeats’s Poems Written In Discouragement (Lot 553, €2,500-€4,000).

Other Yeats material on offer includes a copy of Yeats’s second book, The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Stories, in its original 1889 dust wrapper (Lot 550, €3,500 -€5,000) and a copy of the Dublin University Review from 1886 which contains the first printing of the dramatic poem Mosada (Lot 552, €1,500-€2,500).

Fans of Patrick Kavanagh will be interested in a 1958 copy of Recent Poems, one of just 25 printed, with an inscription from the poet to one of his patrons (Lot 562, €4,000-€6,000).

There’s also a signed Collected Poems from 1964 (Lot 112, €1,500- €2,000) and a rare first issue copy of Self Portrait, the text from an RTÉ programme about Kavanagh which was broadcast in 1962.

The poet objected to the cover image, which shows him wearing a flat cap and untidy, stained shirt, so the issue was pulped. It is accompanied by a copy of the second issue, with a much more “respectable” photo (Lot 565, €1,000-€1,500).

Sporting memorabilia

The sale’s 900-plus lots include a section of sporting memorabilia, among them a Laois All-Ireland hurling medal from 1915 (Lot 891, €7,000-€10,000), “Ned” Ryan’s GAA medal collection (Lot 893, €4,000-€6,000) and an autographed typed letter from the Manchester United manager Matt Busby (Lot 874, €700- €900).

1998 copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’, signed by JK Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, is to be sold alongside a paperback of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’, signed by 14 cast members of the movie.
1998 copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’, signed by JK Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, is to be sold.

And young collectors, take note: a 1998 copy of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, signed by JK Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, together with a paperback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, signed by 14 cast members of the movie (Lot 95) is expected to make between €600 and €800.

Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, Chatsworth Street, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny. Rare Books, Manuscripts & Sporting Memorabilia sale, Tuesday, May 30th, Tara Towers Hotel, Dublin 4, 10am. Viewing tomorrow 1pm - 6pm and Monday 10.30am to 6pm. See fonsiemealy.ie

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