One of 50 surviving copies of 1916 Proclamation nets £300,000

Sotheby’s sale goes ‘phenomenally well’ as ‘private collector’ buys defining document

The document is one of an estimated 50 surviving copies of the 1,000 printed in Liberty Hall on Easter Sunday, 1916

The document is one of an estimated 50 surviving copies of the 1,000 printed in Liberty Hall on Easter Sunday, 1916

 

An original copy of the 1916 Proclamation has sold at auction in Sotheby’s London on Tuesday for £305,000 (€420,000).

Sotheby’s said the unnamed buyer was a “private collector” who had bid by telephone and that the sale had gone “phenomenally well”.

The price greatly exceeded the top pre-sale estimate of £120,000.

The hammer price at the auction in the New Bond Street saleroom was £250,000 but, with the buyer’s premium added, the unnamed bidder ended up paying £305,000. The copy offered for sale was “acquired at the time of the Rising by a Dublin resident” and was consigned to auction by a descendant.

The vendor has remained anonymous.

The document is one of an estimated 50 surviving copies of the 1,000 printed in Liberty Hall on Easter Sunday, 1916. Of these, some 25 are in museums and public libraries; the rest in private ownership.

Socialist principles

In catalogue notes for the auction Sotheby’s said: “As with the American Declaration of Independence, the Irish Proclamation is of literary worth as well as historical interest” and “the text mingles lofty, deftly expressed idealism with Christian Socialist principles” and described it as the “most important document in the history of the Irish Nation”.

The price paid suggests that demand for 1916-related memorabilia is rising again after falling steeply during the recession. The last copy to appear at auction – at Adam’s in Dublin last year – made just €90,000.

About six copies of the Proclamation have appeared at auction in the last decade and prices can vary greatly.

The highest price paid at auction in Ireland for a copy was €390,000 at Adam’s in Dublin during the Celtic Tiger boom in 2004. But the unnamed winning bidder also had to pay a buyer’s premium, bringing the price actually paid up to euro 460,785.