Cork treasures among unique postcard collection at auction

Cork treasures among unique postcard collection at auction
Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.

MANY iconic Cork landmarks feature in a large collection of postcards which is being auctioned today.

Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.
Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.

From the early days of the motor car on Patrick’s Hill to an ad for Henry Ford, the postcards provide a snapshot of Cork as it was.

One of the postcards shows one of the earliest images of the Blarney Stone being kissed, while another shows a soldier standing to attention at the Barrack Gate in Ballincollig.

Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.
Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.

The Cork images are included in more than 100,000 picture postcards, a collection formed by Dubliner Seamus Kearns, which is being sold by Whyte’s auction house. They are a mixture of black and white and colour images and date from the early 1900s to the 1950s.

Mr Kearns (1929-2014) began collecting stamps in the 1930s and fell in love with old postcards in the 1950s.

A founder of the Irish Picture Postcard Society, he provided many exhibitions around the country, including a major show at The Guinness Hopstore in 1994.

Whyte’s believe it to be the largest auction of picture postcards ever held in Ireland.

Every county — and most places in Ireland — are represented. The views show the transition from muddy roads and horse drawn vehicles to tarmac and trams and then to buses and motor cars, the simple pleasures of the seaside resorts such as Ballybunion, Portrush and Bray, the naughtiness — or politically incorrectness — of “saucy postcards” from English (who else?) holiday spots, and the Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences on postcard designs.

Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.
Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.

The postcard in Ireland dates from 1870 when the Post Office offered a reduced rate of a halfpenny instead of a penny. At first the cards only bore handwritten or printed text.

Some individuals in Britain and USA had made handpainted cards before 1870 but they were the exception. Gradually, the idea of printing pictures and greetings on the cards spread and by 1900 practically every country in the world was producing them.

The auction house says the main value is in Irish topographical and historical Irish cards — views of villages and towns as well as historic events such as the 1916 Rising.

“With the advent of texting and selfies, the sales of postcards have gone into decline but this collection shows what we are missing today – not only the wonderful images but also the thoughtful messages,” a spokesperson said.

The collection encompasses Irish topographical views, historic events, advertising, comic and greetings.

There are also large collections of worldwide cards including Gruss Aus, Art Nouveau and Art Deco, glamour, greetings, comic, mods etc. Estimates run from €50 to €3,000.

Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.
Part of the postcard collection going for auction at Whyte's this weekend.

This collection has been broken up into nearly 500 lots with a total estimated value of €50,000 to €70,000.

The number of cards per lot varies from about 10 cards to over 3,000. Lots run from €50 for 110 views of Belfast to €3,000 for a collection of Irish advertising cards.

The auction takes place today from 1pm at The Freemasons Hall, 17 Molesworth Street in Dublin.

The auction will be broadcast live with on-line bidding at www.bid.whytes.ie

Further information from Ian Whyte or Stuart Purcell 01 676 2888 or info@whytes.ie or 087 2323214

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