The official 1916 medal that was posthumously awarded to Easter Rising leader Joseph Plunkett is to go on sale ahead of the centenary commemorations.
It is the last of the official leaders’ medals to be accounted for and hasn’t been seen for 75 years.
The medal was awarded posthumously to Plunkett in 1941 by Éamon de Valera. However, Plunkett’s widow Grace Gifford was so disillusioned with the government that she threw the medal in the bin.
A friend took the medal out of the bin but it has been out of public view for three quarters of a century.
It remained unaccounted for until recently, when its current owner took it into Whyte’s Auctioneers to discover its value.
Auctioneer Ian Whyte said: “I couldn’t believe it when Plunkett’s medal turned up. All of the other 1916 leaders’ medals were accounted for either through private collections or institutions. This was the last one unaccounted for.”
It will go on display at Gresham Hotel, Dublin, for the Independent and Whyte’s auctioneers ‘1916 in the Attic’ event from 31 January.
The event enables members of the public to bring along any items they have that are connected to the Rising – or other events in Irish history – and have them valued free of charge.
There will also be an exhibition of artefacts from the Rising including the Proclamation, Pádraig Pearse’s newsletter ‘War News No 1’ and several other items.
Whyte will give a talk at the event on the increasing interest in collecting and dealing with items from this period.
The medal will be sold at Whyte’s History & Literature Auction on 13th March. It is valued at €70,000-€100,000.
Items related to the Rising have recovered in value recently. There was a significant drop in 2008, following the recession.
Whyte said: “From 2008-2013 prices did fall, but we are certainly getting back to peak prices.”
For more information visit Whyte’s Auctioneers.