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A: Dublin 1, County Dublin, Ireland

The Proclamation of the Irish Republic is Secretly and Poorly Printed


The Proclamation of the Irish Republic, a broadside roughly 30 x 20 inches in size, was printed in an edition of around 1000 copies on Sunday, April 23, 1916 in advance of the Easter Rising in Ireland, which began on April 24, 1916. The reading of the proclamation by Patrick Pearse outside the General Post Office on Sackville Street (now called O'Connell Street), Dublin's main thoroughfare, marked the beginning of the Rising.

In the Proclamation the Military Council of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, styling itself the "Provisional Government of the Irish Republic,"proclaimed Ireland's independence from the United Kingdom. 

The proclamation was printed secretly on an old and poorly maintained Wharfedale Stop Cylinder Press in the printing office that had been set up by James Connolly in the basement in the original Liberty Hall in Beresford Place, Dublin. Because of its secret printing problems arose which affected the layout and design. The typesetters, Willie O'Brien, Michael Molloy and Christopher Brady, lacked a sufficient supply of type, and as a result there are various examples of wrong font in the text. The headline of the proclamation, "IRISH REPUBLIC", was also set in a very worn sans serif type, with the right foot of the first capital R defective. 

Roughly 30 copies of the original printing have survived, of which eight are preserved in Dublin institutions, and three in the United States.

Various copies have appeared in the sale rooms since 1998:

5 December 1998. Mealy’s, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny. £26,000.

1 January 2001. Whyte’s, Dublin. £52,000.

11 December 2003. Sotheby’s, London (L03409). Lot 5. £69,600.

8 July 2004. Sotheby’s, London (L04407). Lot 9. £123,200.

16 December 2004. Sotheby’s, London (L04413), Lot 35. £168,000.

12 June 2005. Whyte’s, Dublin. €125,000.

12 April 2006. James Adam & Sons, Dublin. Lot 404. €200,000.

17 April 2007. James Adam & Sons, Dublin. Lot 409, €240,000.

15 April 2008. Adam’s and Mealy’s, Dublin. Lot 587. €360,000.

11 December 2008. Sotheby’s, New York (N08501). Lot 179. Estimate $180,000 to $275,000. No sale.

28 April 2009. Adam’s and Mealy’s, Dublin. Lot 630. €220,000.

The best account that I have found of the complex, yet well documented, printing of the Proclamation, and of the numerous reprints which may easily be confused with the originals, is in the Typefoundry blog entry of January 6, 2010 of James Mosley of the Typography and Graphic Communication Department at the University of Reading (accessed 07-26-2011).

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