Today in History... Happy Saint Patrick's Day

Today is Saint Patrick's Day, named after the most commonly recognised patron saint of Ireland (circa AD 387-461).

What began as a purely Catholic holiday in the early-1600s has become increasingly secular over the years.

The 1922 first edition of Ulysses
The 1922 first edition of Ulysses

To mark the occasion, here's a look at Irish collectibles on the auction block - with a few examples of Irish luck brought to collectors and investors of rare books and manuscripts.

Great examples include classic Irish authors, among them James Joyce, whose legendary work Ulysses has appeared fairly frequently at auction over the years.

A Ulysses first edition sold at Sotheby's, in December 2005, for £95,000.

Years later, in 2009, another copy sold for £275,000: then the highest sale price recorded for a 20th century first edition.

Yet even this was paltry compared to a signed version of the book.

Never underestimate the power of an author's signature: a Ulysses first edition signed by Joyce set a World Record when it sold for £460,000 at Christie's New York, in 2002.

Meanwhile, back in the present day, a rare WB Yeats book - the first Irish writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1923 - could bring $100k to its consignor.

A first edition of Mosada, his earliest published work, will auction in New York on March 23 with an estimate of $70,000-100,000.

First edition of Mosada by WB Yeats
First edition of Mosada by WB Yeats

As far back as August 2009, Paul Fraser Collectibles reported on the popularity of Irish collectibles. 'There is a strong market for items relating to Ireland all around the world,' we wrote.

At the time, eBay's top ten searches for collectibles contained 'an amazing four references to Ireland: "Ireland", "Guinness", "Dublin" with the number one spot  going to "Irish".'

Our report attributed this popularity to tendency of Irish settlers to remember their Celtic heritage.

'Many Americans have Irish roots, of course - and those who don't tend to claim them anyway when St Patrick's Day rolls around...'

'Collectible items include stoneware whisky jugs, with Irish brand names and Irish cut crystal. Many items relating to Guinness, Jameson's Whiskey or Harp [also] sell well,' we noted.

As the annual popularity of Saint Patrick's Day endures, long may the popularity of Irish collectibles also continue.

 

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