A walking stick gifted by revolutionary Michael Collins to a barman who did not “daub” him into the British authorities more than 100 years ago is to go under the auctioneer’s gavel.
A gift from 'The Big Fellow’ to the Gresham Hotel's head barman, Patrick Baker in gratitude for his “failing” to identify Collins to British agents who came to the hotel seeking him in 1920 is estimated to be worth between €3,000-€5,000.
Lot 709 is up for grabs as part of a bumper 1,082 items for sale by Fonsie Mealy auctioneers in their Rare Books and Collectors’ sale on December 7th-8th.
The ebony walking stick is accompanied by a letter of provenance from his direct descendants. The letter details the entire story behind Collins’ gift to the barman, along with a blue folder containing associated items relating to Mr Baker, including an original menu from Jammets Restaurant, where he was later head waiter.
The heavy ebony wood walking stick, with an embossed silver plated head, was carried by Collins as part of his attire to blend in with the gentleman who would frequent the hotel, and other venues through-out Dublin.
Mr Mealy explained: “It was testament to Collins that he never forget Mr Baker and the fact he never identified him to the British authorities. The stick is really a tangible piece of history.
“It also shows indeed how cocky and confident Collins was, that he would not be turned in to the authorities. The gift by him to Mr Baker shows how loyal he was to those he trusted and how much he appreciated what was done for him.
“The stick being of robust form, would presumably have been employed by Collins to protect his person should he have been identified by the authorities.”
A recent Collins’ walking stick sold in Belfast for £52,000 (€62,000) - more than five times its original estimate - last September.
Also forming part of the auction is an extremely rare copy of the United States Declaration of Independence of the first Irish-American Catholic nominated to run in the US presidential elections.
A descendant of Roscommon man Charles O’Connor, a distinguished Irish-American attorney and politician, was the first Irish American Catholic to claim that title of running for the highest office in the US - 89 years before John F Kennedy.
O’Connor was given one of only 200 original engraved facsimile copies, when a reprint of the Declaration of Independence was issued by order of Congress on July 4th, 1823.
Created using fine parchment - only a dozen still remain in private hands with this copy, lot 752 estimated to be worth between €20,000-€30,000 with direct unbroken provenance to the present owner.
The copy came to light recently in a country house in the west of Ireland, where presumably it was brought by Charles O’Conor on a visit to his ancestral homeland. Of the 200 original copies issued, a census undertaken in 1991 could find only 31 surviving, of which institutions held 19, and only 12, to which the present copy can be added, were in private hands.
Other items of interest include lot 189, estimated at between €7,000-€9,000, a signed first edition of 300 copies of The Heart of the Antarctic - Being the Story of the British Antarctic Expedition 1907-1909 by William Heinemann.
The shore party consisted of fifteen men, including Ernest Shackleton, Professor TW Edgeworth and David and Douglas Mawson who had embarked at Sydney. Their sledge journey to the South Magnetic Pole was one of the three foremost achievements of this expedition.
For sports enthusiasts a 1915 Wexford All-Ireland Football Winners 9ct gold medal worth up to €4,000, a ticket to the 1920 Bloody Sunday match between Dublin and Tipperary, valued at up to €5,000, are also available.
Lot 434 titled, A Magic Moment in Munster Rugby, an original official match ticket and programme for Munster v New Zealand at Thomond Park on October 28th, 1978.
The game was a watershed moment in Irish rugby, with Munster becoming the first Irish side to beat the great All-Blacks, a feat which was only achieved by the national team in 2016.
Lot 435 is an official issue oval leather rugby ball reputed to have been used at Ravenhill where Ireland beat Wales in 1948 to claim their first Grand Slam.
There are also numerous posters for film buffs up for grabs, with lot 309 a cinema poster of The Quiet Man starring John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara and Barry Fitzgerald, valued at up to €800 available.
The lots are available to view on fonsiemealy.ie.