Rare Chinese books turn up in Co Offaly

Postmaster’s collection of antiquarian books for auction

‘The Punishments of China’ (1801) illustrates various punishments including the gruesome ‘Hamestringing a Malefactor’. The estimate at Purcell Auctioneers is (€600-€800)

‘The Punishments of China’ (1801) illustrates various punishments including the gruesome ‘Hamestringing a Malefactor’. The estimate at Purcell Auctioneers is (€600-€800)

 

A fascinating, private Irish collection of rare, collectible and unusual books from the library of the late Mr Gill Ruttledge will go under the hammer on Wednesday, March 30th at Purcell Auctioneers in Birr, Co Offaly at 5pm.

Auctioneer Conor Purcell said Ruttledge, who died in 1995, was the postmaster in Kilcormac, Co Offaly for most of his working life and “spent every available hour attending auctions and book fairs throughout Ireland in the hope of purchasing the very best possible example of every book that he wanted to add to his collection”.

The collection is now being auctioned off in individual lots. While most of his vast collection of rare and antiquarian books is of Irish interest there is a selection of Chinese interest books including an exceptionally rare and important An Embassy Sent by the East-India Company of the United Provinces to the Grand Tartar Cham or Emperour of China, printed in London in 1669, which contains numerous engravings of views and maps of Chinese cities and landmarks. It is estimated at €3,000-€5,000. A copy of The Punishments of China, published for the enlightenment of a horrified European audience in 1801, details the various chastisements accorded to perpetrators of crimes under the Chinese penal code. The book, estimated at €600-€800, contains 22 engravings illustrating the various punishments including the gruesome “Hamestringing a Malefactor” .

The rather less sensational but very collectible two-volume The Antiquities of Ireland by Francis Grose, published in 1791, with 166 plates, is estimated at €3,000-€4,000.

Among other highlights: A “scarce 1st edition copy” from 1870 of In Fairyland - Pictures from the Elf World with fine coloured plates by Richard Doyle, with a poem by William Allingham, published in London in 1870 (€400-€500); Essays on Syphilis by John Hamilton (surgeon to the Richmond Hospital, Dublin) published in 1849 (€120-€150); and, quite intriguingly, published in London in 1916, The Death of Fionavar – From The Triumph of Maeve by Eva Gore-Booth, with illustrations by Constance Gore-Booth, Countess Markievicz, (€60-€80).

Inevitably, there are numerous books relating to Mr Ruttledge’s home county, with titles recalling the era when Offaly was known as King’s County, Birr was Parsonstown and Philipstown (now Daingean), and not Tullamore, was the county town.

See purcellauctioneers.ie

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