3,000 YEARS OF COLLECTIBLES AT WHYTE’S
Whyte’s annual “Eclectic Collector” auction is eagerly awaited by collectors worldwide, containing as it does a most intriguing mix of historical artefacts, manuscripts, books, maps, militaria, coins, banknotes, tribal objects, rare whiskies and more.
The oldest object in the sale is a Bronze Age sword, made about three thousand years ago [lot 1], found about 70 years ago in Co. Fermanagh, and valued at €4,500 to €5,500, while the youngest is a 1998 Good Friday Agreement signed by many of the negotiators [lot 265] and expected to bring €5,000 to €7,000.
The most valuable lot in the sale is the last letter written by Kevin Barry, hours before he was executed [lot 173]. Written to Kathleen Carney it finishes poignantly "Say a little prayer when I cash in, your pal, Kevin". About eight hours later the 20-year-old Irish Volunteer was hanged by the neck until dead, as sentenced by a Court Martial for killing a soldier in an attack to capture arms. Kevin Barry’s signature is much prized by collectors as they are rare, given that he died so young, and this sale includes 4 of his schoolbooks, including his French book, signed “K. Barry, Loyalist of Irish Republic” when he was about 15 [lot 178] estimate €1,000 to €1,500.
The Irish struggle for independence provides collectors with a rich variety at Whyte’s including a 1798 Rebellion pike head and bayonet [lot 27] for €1,000 to €1,500, 1866 Fenian Bonds sold to raise funds for the 1867 rising [lots 69-71] ranging from €300 to €1,200 each depending on type and condition, 1916 Rising and War of Independence medals [lots 137-141 and 160-167], valued from €150 to €2,000.
In the Scorsese film “The Irishman” the hitman Frank Sheehan, played by Robert de Niro, says he “paints houses” which is Mafia slang for killing people. However, the phrase was also used by the IRA in the War of Independence and one of their favourite weapons was a Mauser pistol nicknamed “Peter The Painter”. A fine example of this deadly weapon – deactivated of course – with a provenance (history of ownership) back to a Co. Kildare Volunteer, is expected to make €4,000 to €6,000. [lot 168]
The Parnell Commission, 1888 to 1889, was a judicial inquiry into allegations of crimes by Charles Stewart Parnell which resulted in his vindication. Lot 81 is a collection of drawings by Sir Frank Lockwood showing the judges, lawyers and witnesses – a superb visual record of this historic attempt to imprison and silence Parnell. In need of some restoration the estimate is €3,000-€5,000.
A valuable collection of military medals includes an 1815 Battle of Waterloo [lot 286], valued at €1,000 to €1,500, an 1854 Charge of The Light Brigade [lot 287], also expected to fetch €1,000 to €1,500, and a Distinguished Flying Cross group of medals to a young Waterford man, Philip Harvey [lot 320, illustrated above], who served with distinction in the Royal Air Force in World War Two. Sadly, he went missing in action shortly after the bravery medal was awarded to him in 1943, at the age of only 23.
"Saint Patrick was a gentleman and came of decent people. | He built a church in Ireland and put on it a steeple", and "Please to remember the Third of November, | Holy Hubert, huntsman and hound". So wrote James Joyce in green ink, each on a leaf from a desk calendar, 17 March and 3 November respectively, the quotations referring to the respective saints' days, dated 1939. This framed Joycean collectable is expected to bring €6,00 to €8,000 [lot 403].
Sports fans are well catered for with collectibles for Gaelic games, rugby, soccer, golf and motorcycling. Manchester United fans would prize an England shirt worn by Roger Byrne, a ‘Busby Babe’ and one of the greatest ever captains of the Reds [lot 519]. Byrne swapped it with his opposite number Seamus Dunne at the Ireland v England World Cup qualifier on 19 May 1957. 9 months later Roger Byrne was killed in the Munich aeroplane crash along with several of his teammates. The shirt is expected to make €3,000 to €4,000.
A large collection of Count John McCormack memorabilia is featured in this auction. Over 30 lots, many of them originally belonging to John McCormack and his family, include his portable altar [lot 534], €500 to €700, his Papal Count uniforms [lot 538], €800 to €1,000, an opera costume worn by him, €500 to €700, various illuminated addresses and honours, including Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur certificate , €200 to €300, and various personal items including a gold ring inscribed to him on his 25th birthday , €800 to €1,200 and a cigarette case from his wife on his 32nd birthday [lot 537], €100 to €150.
Other collectibles include books, maps, film posters, rock and pop memorabilia, silver, African artefacts including Benin Bronzes, rare whiskies and rum.