Bidding War on Easter Uprising Order of Surrender Doubles Estimate at Bonhams in London

A typed Order of Surrender from the 1916 Rising, signed by the leader of the rebellion, Patrick Pearse, sold for £263,000 at Bonhams Fine Books sale in London today, 14 June after fierce bidding in the auction room, on the phone and on the internet. It had been estimated at £80,000-120,000.

Bonhams representative in Ireland, manuscript specialist Kieran O'Boyle, said, "The Order of Surrender is one of the most significant documents in Irish 20th century history, and I am not surprised that it was so keenly sought after, nor that it sold for such an impressive amount." 

The Order of Surrender ended the abortive attempt in April 1916 by Irish Nationalists in Dublin to overthrow British rule in Ireland, and establish an independent Irish State. The nationalist uprising, which broke out on 24 April, Easter Monday, under the overall leadership of Pearse, was met by the British authorities with uncompromising and overwhelming force. On Saturday 29 April, after six days of bitter fighting, Pearse offered unconditional surrender in order to prevent further bloodshed. A schoolteacher by profession, Pearse was also leader of the Irish Volunteers and, as President of the Provisional Government, had read out the Proclamation of Independence outside the General Post Office on Easter Monday at the beginning of the Rising. 

It is not known exactly how many typed copies were produced, but it is thought to be in single figures. Two surviving copies are held by the National Library of Ireland. Another, signed by Pearse and countersigned by James Connolly, is held at the Imperial War Museum, London. In addition, there are known to be three hand written drafts. Uniquely, the typed copy sold today bears a tricolor stamp printed by the rebels at the time of the Rising depicting William Allen, Michael Larkin and William O'Brien, the 'Manchester Martyrs', who were hanged in Manchester for killing a police constable during a failed rescue attempt of two Fenian prisoners. The stamp was possibly affixed to authenticate the order.

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