A limited-edition copy of James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’, owned by a Sligo doctor, sold for €9,500 after less than a minute of bidding at an auction in Dublin on Tuesday of this week.
The book was part of a huge collection of modern Irish and international literature, belonging to retired Sligo doctor Philip Murray. As revealed in last week’s Sligo Weekender, his collection contained 2,200 first edition books and 50 letters from various authors including JK Rowling, Samuel Beckett, and Roald Dahl.
Also sold at the auction in the Gresham Hotel was a signed copy of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, for €4,800.
The book was from the first English printed edition of the famous novel.
Other books that caused a stir at yesterday’s auction was a copy of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting for Godot’ which sold for €3,200 and a collection of Seamus Heaney poems that went for €2,300.
Speaking prior to the sale, auctioneer George Fonsie Mealy said the collection is one of the most interesting estates that he has worked with.
“It’s eclectic in every sense of the word, it incorporates letters, signed copies, limited editions of some of the most important rarities of modern Irish and international literature.
“We’ve had dealers from the United States and the UK over for the last two, three days, scrutinising very thoroughly, going through a lot of the books.
“It’s been interesting and a learning curve for all of us. It’s very rare to find a collection like this in Ireland.”
Dr Murray did decide to hold on to one of the most interesting lots in the 500-strong catalogue – a first edition of Ian Fleming’s ‘Casino Royale’, first published in 1953. It was listed with a guide price of between €4,000 and €5,000.
“There were ones I wanted to keep and when I came in this week and saw the books ready for auction I just decided to keep that one back,” said Dr Murray.