The Yeats family collection – the final chapter

Hundreds of items of WB Yeats memorabilia are set to be sold at auction

Hundreds of items belonging or relating to Irish writer WB Yeats are set to be sold at auction. They include personal letters, memorabilia and paintings. It will be the last time such a large collection of Yeats items will ever be auctioned.

Bridget O’Dea tells us about the auction and what the pieces mean to Irish literary and artistic history.

Irish auction house bring final tranche of Yeats family collection to auction

[02.11.2017] Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, have assembled a collection of remarkable personal artefacts from the Yeats family, for what will be the last significant tranche of items to ever go to auction. Over 200 lots of items, many of which have never been seen before, offer a unique insight into Irish literary and artistic history through the eyes of the Yeats family.
Hundreds of items of WB Yeats memorabilia are set to be sold at auction
The items including paintings, letters and personal memorabilia will be auctioned on November 14th in Fonsie Mealy’s Chatsworth Salerooms in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny. The Yeats Family Collection, the final chapter will be available to view in the lead up to the auction.

Some of the notable items being offered include;

• One of only two known signed and compiled sketchbooks to exist from W.B Yeats time in Art College in Dublin (1884-85)
• A rare and unobtainable original fine ink sketch by John B. Yeats, reproduced in William B. Yeats’ first separate publication, ‘Mosada’.The superb drawing is characteristic of J.B Yeats at his very best, bringing out his twenty-year-old son’s vulnerability as well as his determination.
• A monogrammed briefcase belonging to W.B Yeats, which he subsequently gifted to his son Michael.
“Fonsie Mealy has a longstanding relationship with the Yeats family. To be charged with looking after this collection that is of huge importance to Irish history and culture is an honour. We expect some of the items, many of which have never been seen before, to generate a lot of interest,” Says George Fonsie JR of Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers.

Other significant items of memorabilia include;

• A poignant photograph of Maud Gonne, from W.B’s collection.
• RDS badges belonging to W.B and his wife Georgina.
• A pair of WB’s optical glasses.
• Dozens of portrait drawings from W.B. Yeats, completed in a style similar to that of his father, J.B. Yeats.
• Miscellaneous items; art college studies, a poem (thought to be unpublished), a draft telegram, a list of names and other jottings are to be included.

Personal effects from the women of the Yeats family also feature strongly;

• A set of Tarot cards designed by Pamela Colman Smith, thought to belong to Georgina, wife of W.B Yeats.
• A group of watercolour flower studies by Elizabeth Pollexfen, W.B Yeats grandmother.
• Two fine embroidered panels by W.B.’s sister Lily Yeats
• Watercolours by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (‘Lolly’).
• Watercolour landscape by W.B Yeats mother Susan Pollexfen (later Mrs. J.B. Yeats).
• Attractive drawings by Jack’s wife Cottie, whose work is rare.
Items with great appeal for collectors include;
• A carved block of green Connemara marble, engraved with Jack Yeats’ monogram thought to be a memento of a visit to Lady Gregory at Coole.
• Japanese coloured woodcuts from Jack’s collection.
• A large cardboard sheet on which Jack Yeats has listed the contents of a seven-drawer chest, including his paintings, watercolours, sketchbooks and so on.
Household items and furniture that graced the houses of the Yeats families such as Georgian furniture, family silver, bureau bookcase, grandfather clock, and musical instruments including the family harp are also part of the assembly.
The Yeats Family Collection – The Final Chapter will be available for viewing in Fonsie Mealy’s Chatsworth Salerooms, Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny. The collection will go to auction on November 14th. The general public can view the collection from Saturday 11th up until Monday 13th, from 12.20pm to 5.00pm. To view the online catalogue visit The Yeats family collection – the final chapter
Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers, Chatsworth Street, Castlecomer, telephone 056-4441229, or online at [email protected].