Kilkenny auctioneer in Bloom as first edition of Ulysees sells for €80,000
By COLIN BARTLEY
A FIRST edition copy of Ulysses signed by James Joyce was sold for €85,000 by a renowned Kilkenny auction house.
Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers of Castlecomer sold the extremely rare first edition, no.30 copy, of the literary masterpiece at an auction in Dublin last week.
Fonsie Mealy is renowned as a leading auctioneer and valuer of antiques, rare books, manuscripts, fine art, and paintings.
Director of the company, George Fonsie Mealy, said a manuscript such as this Ulysses edition does not come to auction often.
George told KilkennyNow.ie: “It’s the first time in Irish literary history that a copy of the first true edition of Joyce’s masterpiece Ulysses, no. 30 of 100 signed by the author, came for auction in Ireland.
“Out of the 100 first edition copies, 48 of them are in institutions in the USA so the likelihood of any of them coming to auction will never occur.
“After further research you find there are more copies in the UK and across Europe, in places like Cambridge and the Sorbonne. When you take all that into account there are only 30 copies that are in private hands.
“It’s a real rarity! That’s why is achieved such a high figure above its estimate, under the hammer,” George added.
The work, possibly the most famous of all Irish art creations of the 20th century is recognised globally as a masterpiece.
It gained infamy as the book was initially banned for sale in the UK and the USA. Ulysses was technically never banned in Ireland. Because there was never a print run in Ireland, it was never imported and offered for sale, so no ban was necessary.
The book was entrusted to Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers for auction by a private collector in the west of Ireland.
“It came from a private collection of a gentleman in the west of Ireland, who has been collecting books since the 1960s. It’s funny, the man could not remember how he came across the book however.”
George was able to confirm that the rare masterpiece is staying in the Ireland.
“The book is staying in Ireland, it was bought by a private bidder from Dublin,” George told KilkennyNow.ie.