From Arkle’s X-rays to Garda files on JFK visit

‘The Eclectic Collector’ sale at Whyte’s featuring Kitty Kiernan's vanity case and Arkle's X-Rays has appeal for a diverse range of bidders

Whyte's of Molesworth Street has just published the catalogue for The Eclectic Collector auction on May 5th. The sheer variety of items is likely to attract the most diverse range of collectors imaginable.

Among the most fascinating items is Lot 37, an early 19th-century certificate dated 1835, permitting a male midwife to practise in Ireland, at the “Lying In Institution” in Townsend St, Dublin, issued by “Institutio Parturientium”, dated May 1st, 1835 (€400-€600).

From human to veterinary medicine, Lot 511 will be of interest to thoroughbred racing fans as it comprises 20 X-rays of the racehorse Arkle taken by his vet, James F Kavanagh, in 1967 and estimated at €2,500-€3,000. The X-ray plates document the great racehorse's career-ending injury to his pedal bone, from initial diagnosis in January 1967 until December that year – many showing the fracture to Arkle's hoof, sustained in December 1966 in the King George VI Chase at Kempton Park. Arkle-related memorabilia always attracts interest. In 2010, at an auction in London the saddle used by the late jockey Pat Taaffe for all his victories on Arkle sold for £12,925 (€14,830) and was bought by an anonymous Irish bidder.

Irish history with a poignant, romantic twist is found in Lot 117 the vanity case that belonged to Kitty Kiernan (bereaved fiancée of Michael Collins) containing photographs, silver-mounted glass jars, a headscarf, and gloves (€3,000-€5,000).


Possibly the most curious lot is Lot 137, 18 Munster and Leinster Bank cheques to Irish politicians from Ireland's biggest bookmaker, PJ Kilmartin, dated from June 9th to June 19th , 1943. The amounts, from IR£10 to IR£50, are payable to high-ranking Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour TDs. Payees include W Cosgrave, Dan Breen, R Mulcahy, A Byrne, Sean T O'Kelly, Oscar Traynor and Sean Lemass. The head of collectibles at Whyte's, Stuart Purcell, said there had been a general election on June 23rd, 1943, and that "Mr Kilmartin was, as befits a turf accountant, hedging his bets!" The vendor found the cheques in a plastic bag of documents he bought at a car boot sale for €30 earlier this year. The estimate is €250-€350.

Lot 155, is an "archive relating to policing and suppression of protests" during President Kennedy's visit to Ireland in June 1963. The archive is "a collection of letters, memos, circulars and other official documents issued before the visit by the Garda Crime Branch to members of An Garda Síochána" described by Whyte's as "a fascinating primary source, demonstrating the Lemass government's determination that the visit be successful and not marred by anti-US demonstrations". The estimate is €500-€700. The provenance is interesting: "Archive gifted to present owner by the Minister for Justice, Sean Doherty, in 1982".

Whyte’s, ‘The Eclectic Collector’ auction, The Freemasons Hall, Molesworth Street, Dublin 2 on Saturday, May 5th at 11am.