A well known retired doctor in Sligo is selling his rare collection of 2,200 modern first editions at an auction in the Gresham Hotel, Dublin, on Tuesday next, July 12.
Dr Phillip Murray, who lives in Ballincar and retired recently after many years as a general practitioner, built up the collection over more than half a century.
Ever since his earliest years in Nenagh in Co. Tipperary, he has been an avid reader and collector of books.
Starting with the Dandy and Beano comics, he progressed to more serious literature, aided by the discovery when a student in Dublin and later Galway of the great variety of second-hand bookshops in both cities. But it was while working in Australia that he became a serious collector.
His main interest has always been 20th century literary fiction and poetry, and over many years he has built up an impressive range of books by some of Ireland’s most significant poets and novelists, as well as the best of British, American (North and South) and European authors.
Through attending book readings and literary festivals, he met and befriended many authors and also has a collection of 500 letters and cards from many famous authors, including Samuel Beckett, Graham Greene, Roald Dahl, Spike Milligan and JK Rowling, to name but a few, which will also be auctioned.
What Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, who are conducting the auction, consider the the most valuable single book is a rare limited first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses from 1922, which has a guide price range of €6,000-€8,000.
Also rated highly is a copy of limited edition of just 300 copies of a collection of the magazine Broadsides from 1908-1915, featuring illustrations by Jack B Yeats, among others, which is valued at €4,000-€6,000.
Also highly rated, at €5,000-€7,000, is the original typescript of a collection of short stories from 1918 by George Moore.
But, interestingly, one of the more valuable books in the collection is a first edition of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel Casino Royale from 1953, which is guided at €4,000-€5,000 and another signed Bond novel Live and Let Die (1954) is priced at €2,500-€3,000.
Also expected to be in demand is a first edition of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (1963) which is expected to fetch at least €3,500-€4,000.
Of more recent vintage a signed first edition of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Prisoner is expected to go for between €800-€900.
In his memoir, Adventures of a Book Collector published in 2011, Dr Murray wrote about the many adventures and friendships his passion has brought him.
He feels the advent of internet buying of books has taken away much of the pleasure of book-hunting, and accordingly, he has decided to part with his very personal collection.