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Patrick Pearse 1916 surrender letter sells for £263,000 at London auction

The estimated sale price was less than half of that.
Jun 14th 2017, 7:27 PM 16,329 23

unnamed Order of Surrender 29 April 1916. Signed by Patrick Pearse. Sold for £263,000. Source: Bonhams

A TYPED SURRENDER letter, signed by 1916 Rising leader Patrick Pearse, has sold for £263,000 at a London auction today.

UK auction house Bonhams said that a ‘fierce bidding’ took place in the auction room for the letter, which sold at double the estimated price of between £80,000-£120,000.

Bonhams representative in Ireland, manuscript specialist Kieran O’Boyle, said that this wasn’t a major shock given the value of the historic document.

“The Order of Surrender is one of the most significant documents in Irish 20th century history, and I am not surprised that it was so keenly sought after, nor that it sold for such an impressive amount.”

Pearse’s Order of Surrender ended the 1916 Rising siege in Dublin city in April 1916 after nationalists including James Connolly and Thomas MacDonagh attempted to establish an independent Irish State.

Pearse, who was a schoolteacher by profession, was also leader of the Irish Volunteers and, as President of the Provisional Government, had read out the Proclamation of Independence outside the GPO on Easter Monday at the beginning of the Rising.

Other letters

It is not known exactly how many typed copies were produced, but it is thought to be in single figures.

Two surviving copies are held by the National Library of Ireland. Another, signed by Pearse and countersigned by James Connolly, is held at the Imperial War Museum, London.

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In addition, there are known to be three handwritten drafts – one of which, the government is being pressured into buying before it’s sent to its international owner.

Uniquely, the typed copy sold today bears a tricolour stamp printed by the rebels at the time of the Rising depicting William Allen, Michael Larkin and William O’Brien, the ‘Manchester Martyrs’, who were hanged in Manchester for killing a police constable during a failed rescue attempt of two Fenian prisoners.

The stamp was possibly affixed to authenticate the order.

Read: Unsold!: 1916 surrender letter set to leave Ireland after auction fails to reach €1m

Read: Government delays the sale of Patrick Pearse’s last surrender letter

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Gráinne Ní Aodha


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