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Michael Collins’ blackthorn stick and letters going under hammer

December 1st, 2022 7:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

Letters are among the items up for auction.

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BY PAULINE MURPHY 

A NUMBER of interesting Michael Collins items will go under the hammer at a Kilkenny auction next month. 

‘The Christmas Rare Books & Collectors Sale’ by Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers takes place on December 6th and includes Collins’ handwritten letters, his directory, letter seal and blackthorn stick. 

Lot 577 is tagged ‘The Big Fella’s Shillelagh.’ The heavy stick measures 18 inches in length and is pierced for hanging. It has an estimate hammer price of €5,000-€7,000. It comes with a note telling how the stick once belonged to Collins and it was handed down to his niece, who then gifted it to Dr John Nesfield, who later returned it to the Collins family.

In 2019, a walking cane belonging to the Big Fella sold for €11,000, while in 2021 another Collins walking stick was sold at an auction in Belfast for a staggering £52,000.

Also up for grabs on the day will be an array of notes and letters which span from the General’s years in London as a young clerk, through to the revolutionary era, and right up to the Treaty negotiations. 

Lot 582, which has an estimated price of €3,000, is a collection of cryptic letters and notes written by Collins in London prior to The Treaty. 

From an address in Kensington, the Collins letters to Art Ó Briain refer to ‘particulars’ which suggests intelligence-gathering. Ó Briain was president of Sinn Fein in Britain at the time and the letters show the young Collins was an enthusiastic agent for the revolution. 

Lot 583 is a file of letters and drafts from the 1921 Minster for Finance, Michael Collins. The interesting file is in relation to funds and fiscal security and has an estimate price of between €3,000 and €5,000.

Lot 584 is the accounts for the Treaty negotiation team in London 1921. It is estimated to sell for €3,000 to €5,000, and the two-page typescript has handwritten notes by the meticulous Collins. 

Lot 586 is tagged as ‘The Big Fella’s Seal of Approval.’ Estimated to sell for €2,000-€3,000, the silver hallmarked seal is two inches in height and is engraved ‘MC’. It was used by Collins to seal State documents and more, during his brief time as head of the Irish Free State.

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