Have we reached Peak 1916?
Not quite yet, as more memorabilia goes to auction
At the launch of the Rising commemorative medallions in 1966 were Hungarian sculptor Paul Vincze, then minister for justice Brian Lenihan snr and then chief justice (later president of Ireland) Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Not quite. Commemorations marking the centenary of 1916 might be winding down but the salerooms aren’t quite finished with the Rising. In Dublin next Wednesday O’Reilly’s Auction Rooms on Francis Street will offer gold commemorative medallions struck in 1966 to mark the 50th anniversary. The medallions, featuring the engraved portrait of Patrick Pearse, were advertised in the The Irish Times in April 1966 as a suitable gift for special occasions under the headline: “Will your gift be still precious 100 years from now?”
Worboys jewellers in the Grafton Arcade sold the medallions and a 22ct gold “large” version, weighing 4oz and measuring 2in in diameter, in a limited edition of 750, cost £110. A smaller 22-carat gold version, weighing 2oz and measuring 1.5in in diameter, in a limited edition of 1,500, was priced at £62. So, how have they fared after 50 years? O’Reilly’s is offering a box set of both with an estimate of €6,500-€7,500. The auction also features nine of the small gold medallions each, with an estimate of €2,000-2,800. Not a bad return on investment.
The original series also included a platinum version, but it is not known how many were issued nor the price. But O’Reilly’s has one – weighing 6oz – with an estimate of €5,000-€6,000.
The unnamed vendor has provided the auctioneer with a photograph from the launch of the medallions in Dublin in 1966, which shows the Hungarian sculptor Paul Vincz (second from left) , who designed the medallions, presenting bronze casts of his designs to then minister for justice Brian Lenihan snr and the then chief justice (later president), Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh.
Separately, two original copies of the Proclamation will be auctioned in London: first at Sotheby’s on Tuesday, with an estimate of £100,000-£150,000 sterling; and on Wednesday at Christie’s, whose copy has an estimate of £150,000-£200,000 and a catalogue note reminding prospective bidders that of the 1,000 copies printed in Liberty Hall “only about 50 copies are thought to survive today, of which 12 are in public collections: eight in Dublin, one in Belfast and three in the US”.
The Sotheby’s auction includes a diary kept by Henry Douglas, a lieutenant in the Second (Robin Hood) Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters Regiment, “recording his service in Dublin and central Ireland during the Easter Rising” which is estimated at £5,000-£7,000.