Che Guevara’s Irish cigar lighter is among the items set to go under the hammer in an online auction of historic memorabilia this month.
The lighter bought at Shannon Airport during a chance visit will be auctioned alongside a remarkable array of items which includes the bible Michael Collins had with him when he was assassinated, a newly discovered copy of Wolfe Tone’s speech from the dock and Phil Lynott’s bass guitar.
Guevara, who had distant Irish heritage, found himself in Ireland by chance when his Prague to Havana flight was diverted to Shannon with engine trouble in 1965.
He bought the lighter, which has a high guide of £2,000 (2,300 euro), at the duty-free store and called it his lucky Irish lighter.
He used it until after his unsuccessful rebellion campaign in the Congo in 1966, at which point he gave it to Fidel Castro’s mistress Natty Revuelta Clews, telling her it was not so lucky.
The Gormleys Signature Sale brings together key figures from Irish and international history, as well as items from pop culture, and runs online until November 14.
Antiques expert Niall Mullen said that every item in the auction “tells a tale from history”.
“There has rarely been such a collection brought to market that will resonate with so many people,” he said.
Also up for sale is the King James bible which was issued to Irish revolutionary, solider and politician Mr Collins when he took up a role as a post office worker in London in 1906.
Following his assassination at Beal na Blath in Cork in 1922, the bible was passed to his niece, who in turn gave it to a Dr James A Lynch, after which it was recently acquired by the present owner.
“Interestingly, in spite of the bible being a King James Protestant edition, Collins continued to carry it with him until his passing, possibly due to the fact that the small size meant that it was easily transported in the pocket of an overcoat,” said Mr Mullen.
The bible, which is estimated between £18,000-£22,000 (21,000-25,000 euro), also contains the In Memoriam card of Mrs Catherine “Katty” Collins, the wife of Michael’s older brother Johnny.
With almost 70 high-end lots, the auction also features an original of the speech of Theobald Wolfe Tone, delivered in the dock during his trial for treason in 1798 and has an estimated value of £20,000-£25,000 (23,000-29,000 euro).
Mr Mullen said the note, that was handwritten by Tone, was only recently discovered with the only other copy of the speech being housed in the British National Archives.
“Originally held in the archive of the Adjutant-General Sir George Hewett (at the time the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army in Ireland), it is an exceptionally rare example of writing from the ‘Father of Irish Republicanism’,” he said.
“As a barrister, Tone was known to make handwritten copies of his work and this copy was likely surrendered by him in the wake of his trial, where he was sentenced to death.”
A rare first edition of Ulysses is also featured in the auction, with a guide price of £22,000-£25,000 (25,000-29,000 euro).
Among the modern auction items is Lynott’s bass guitar from the Chinatown album era.
Guided between £15,000-£20,000 (17,000-23,000 euro), it is signed by Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, Aston Barrett from Bob Marley’s band, and Michael Rose from Black Uhuru.
Also listed is a negative of Norma Jean Baker, later Marilyn Monroe, taken at Zuma Beach, Malibu, in 1946, which formed part of her first modelling portfolio that was presented to 20th Century Fox.
Motor racing fans can own the Ferrari jackets belonging to Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine and signed by both drivers.
Viewings for these items will take place at Gormleys Dublin from November 2-5, and at Gormleys Belfast from November 9-11, with the timed online auction closing on November 14.
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