Private collection of rare books including Ulysses first edition brings $500,000
Following the death of Fred Hanna, one of Ireland's best known rare booksellers, last month an auction has naturally been expected for his own collection of antiquarian rare books, modern first editions, maps and manuscripts.

Mealy's fine art auctioneers sold the high quality 650 lots - and at some speed, though not too fast for humour. Bidders were encouraged to bid for a copy of the racy Fanny Hill by winking - and they weren't tiddly winks, with the book selling for €380.

The best performing lot was a signed first edition of Flann O'Brien's 1939 novel, At Swim-Two-Birds, which eventually sold for €3,400 - four times its estimate.

Other four-figure results included Patrick Kavanagh's first book, Ploughman and other Poems which sold for €1,000.

Then there was a first edition of James Joyce's Ulysses which was bought for €8,250. The new owner admitted that he had been trying to buy a copy for three decades. Its rarity makes it a valuable asset.

The top lot was a set of broadsides published between 1908 and 1915 by the Dun Emer Press in Dundrum and illustrated by Jack B Yeats, at €12,000.

The sale realised a total of €350,000 and Mealy's afterwards declared the market for rare books to be "very buoyant".

That certainly seems to be borne out by recent market results. For example, the sale of Jane Austen's handwritten draft for unfinished work The Watsons sold for $1.6m at Sotheby's last week - far above its estimate.


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