Yeats’ memorabilia auction in Kilkenny was a tremendous spectacle!

Sean Keane


Sean Keane


Poetry in motion

George Fonsie Mealy (Jnr) with the spectacles, suitcase and Mosada portrait from the Yeats sale

More than 200 lots of items including paintings, letters and personal memorabilia belonging to W.B. Yeats went under the hammer in Kilkenny recently.
The artefacts, many of which were never seen in public before and offer a unique insight into Irish literary and artistic history, were auctioned in Fonsie Mealy’s Chatsworth Salerooms in Castlecomer.
The assembled collection marked the last significant tranche of items to ever go to auction from the Yeats family.
Huge Importance
“To be charged with looking after this collection that is of huge importance to Irish history and culture was an honour,” said George Fonsie Mealy of Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers.
Items of interest such as a pair of W.B. Yeats spectacles and original portraits generated much interest and well exceeded the conservative starting prices.
A pair of Yeats’ ‘Pince-Nez’ optical glasses, thought to be 19th century were conservatively estimated at between €500 and €600. They fetched €10,000 under the hammer.
One of only two known signed sketchbooks to exist from W.B. Yeats’ time in Art College in Dublin (1884-85) guidelined at between €3,500 and €5,000 and went for €17,000.
A rare original fine ink sketch by John B. Yeats of his son W.B., which was reproduced in William B. Yeats’ first separate publication Mosada also attracted plenty of attention.
The superb drawing is characteristic of J.B. Yeats at his very best, as it brings out his 20-year-old son’s vulnerability as well as his determination. It sold for €21,000.
A monogrammed briefcase belonging to W.B. Yeats, which he subsequently gifted to his son Michael, sold for €3,400.
A set of Tarot cards designed by Pamela Colman Smith, thought to belong to Georgina, wife of W.B. Yeats, were conservatively estimated at between €450 and €600. They fetched €4,800.
A poignant photograph of Maud Gonne, from W.B.’s collection sold for €1,300.