Nearly 300-year-old Shakespeare set and a book signed by Swift

Rare books, manuscripts, maps and art in Fonsie Mealy auction in Dublin

 

The first printing of Shakespeare’s collected works outside England took place in Dublin in 1726. Now, 290 years, later a set of all eight volumes is to go under the hammer in Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers sale of Rare Books, Literature, Manuscripts, Maps and Works of Art at The Gresham Hotel in O’Connell Street on Tuesday (December 13th). Lot 675, The Works of Shakespeare in Eight Volumes, described as “of legendary rarity” is estimated at €7,000-€10,000 and is, say the auctioneers, the “first such compete set to appear at auction in 100 years”.

Over 800 lots will go under the hammer and the auction begins at 10.15am. Viewing takes place at the Gresham Hotel tomorrow, Sunday December 11th, from 1pm to 6pm and on Monday (December 12th) from 10.30am to 6pm.

Even pricier than the Bard, Lot 686 is “an original signed volume from Dean Swift’s Library” – De Jure Belli ac Pacis (a 17th century Latin tract “On The Law of War and Peace” by Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius) – and signed by “Jon. Swift” (Jonathan Swift) which is catalogued as “excessively rare” as “books from Swift’s library are recorded by only a handful of copies” which explains the estimate of €10,000-€15,000.

Illustrations

Among other highlights is a copy of Cresswell’s sketches, featuring spectacular 19th century colour illustrations of the discovery of the Northwest Passage – the sea route linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the Arctic Region. Capt Samuel Gurney Cresswell was a Royal Navy Officer and artist who was on board the famous expedition by the ship HMS Investigator, captained by Irish man Robert McClure, which discovered the Northwest Passage in 1850.

During the voyage, Cresswell painted several watercolours of the area and Lot 673, A Series of Eight Sketches in Colour, together with a Chart of the Route of the Voyage of HMS Investigator during the Discovery of the North West Passage is estimated at €15,000-€20,000.

Also lavishly illustrated, but much more affordable, is Lot 69: Picturesque Representations of The Dress and Manners of the Chinese by William Alexander, published over 200 years ago in 1814 containing 50 hand-coloured plates (€600-€800). Lot 244, In Fairyland, A Series of Pictures from the Elf World with coloured illustrations by Richard Doyle is a classic Victorian picture book, dating from 1870, that might be a suitable Christmas present (and long-term investment) for a child (€320-€420).

Closer to home, Lot 462, is an 18th century estate map showing the property – 7,200 acres – owned by the Anglo-Irish aristocrat Sir John Coghill in “Yorkshire, Kilkenny, Cavan, Meath & Dublin” in 1791 estimated at €10,000-€15,000.

Other important maps in the auction include Lot 461, “extremely Rare Maps of 18th Century Dublin Streets” including from “Nov. ye 9th, 1751” A Survey of the Present Streets Immediately leading to His Majesty’s Royal Pallace or Castle of Dublin estimated at €3,000-€4,000.

Photographs

Among a selection of photographs is Lot 753, an album of “some of the earliest Irish photographs” taken in 1855 by Sir Jocelyn Coghill, the first secretary of the Dublin Photographic Society. The album contains about 140 images in various sizes, mostly portraits including of Sir Jocelyn himself and his wife Katharine, but also some landscapes including Drogheda harbour with sail-boats, the Boyne Viaduct under construction, “the bridge at Finglas before the city swallowed it”, “the Rock of Cashel with the original village at its foot”, Killiney with the obelisk, the Meeting of the Waters, Sackville Street with the pillar and GPO, and the villages of Swords and “Chapel Izod”.

Auctioneer George F Mealy said this is “a wonderful album by one of the earliest pioneers from the very beginning of photography in Ireland”. It is estimated at €6,000-€8,000.

There is a whole section in the auction devoted to Edith Somerville (1858-1949) the Anglo-Irish writer and artist who is best remembered for the books she co-wrote with her cousin “Martin Ross” (actually Violet Martin) under the name Somerville and Ross (including The Experiences of an Irish RM). Among the best of these is Lot 765, a watercolour titled Paddy, dated 1903, featured on the catalogue cover, which depicts her nephew “Patrick Coghill, seated on a stool holding pencil and copybook, under the watchful eye of his pet Yorkshire terrier” estimated at €2,500-€3,500.

For the online catalogue and bidding details see fonsiemealy.ie

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