I promise not to turn this blog into a auction house “greatest hits” repository, but I thought this was particularly interesting.
Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Next Monday, March 23rd, Bloomsbury Auctions here in New York will hold The Irish Sale. The lots are comprised of paintings, silver, books and manuscripts. There’s a first edition of the unreadable (to me, anyway. I tried twice.) ULYSSES by James Joyce (est. $50,000-$70,000) and first editions by Yeats, Samuel Beckett and others.
The most significant (and, by far, expensive) item up for grabs is this only know existing Tricolor from the Irish Revolution. This was the Republic’s first flag and the rallying symbol for the 1916 Easter Uprising. It was captured by British troops at the General Post Office in Dublin in April of 1916. After five days of warfare, the G.P.O. was in ruins but the flag, miraculously, still flew undamaged. It was reported to still be aloft two days after the surrender.
Auction estimate: $500,000-$700,000
The design is borrowed from the French and was intended to unify Ireland. The green stripe represents the Gaelic and Catholic, the orange represents the Protestant minority and the white is the peace between them. From the catalog:
That the flag survived undisturbed for some time is not surprising. Until it was hoisted above the GPO, few of even Dublin’s citizens had seen a Tricolour before and it was certainly unfamiliar to the British forces. It was up to a Sergeant in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers to recognize its importance (no doubt after seeing Tricolour armbands in the ruins of some rebel positions and on the arms of surrendered men).
I can’t imagine this belonging anywhere except with the people of Ireland, however, it’s entirely possible that some wealthy bloke will buy this and stow it away so that no one ever sees it again.
Here’s the full listing in the auction catalog. It’s a bit lengthy but it’s compelling reading. The account of the capture of the Tricolour and its subsequent provenance is fascinating.