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Thursday 8 December 2016

Watch out for fraud with deathbed letters and medals

Published 05/04/2015 | 02:30

Ruins of Clery's stores and the Imperial Hotel, Dublin, destroyed in the Easter Rising. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
Ruins of Clery's stores and the Imperial Hotel, Dublin, destroyed in the Easter Rising. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Tempted as you might be to snap up the last letter written by one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising - or a deathbed letter from a historical Irish figure, be wary of forgeries before you do so.

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There are some very well-made forgeries of 1916 memorabilia - buy one and you will never get your money back.

"We have seen some well made and dangerous forgeries of 1916 and later Irish medals, coming from Australia and the Far East," said Ian Whyte of Whytes Auctioneers. "A lot of forgeries of medals are offered over the internet. Signatures of historical figures such as Pearse, Collins and Connolly are also regularly forged."

An offer of a handwritten copy of the last letters of the signatories of the Rising should be treated with caution.

"There are many handwritten copies of the last letters of 1916 leaders - some were written by fellow prisoners, and these are of some value, but most were copied later and are not of value," said Mr Whyte. "Original deathbed letters are mostly in museums or public institutions so be wary of offers of such things."

The original 1916 Proclamation is clearly something which could be worth buying - but how would you recognise the genuine article?

"The original Proclamation is 30 by 20 inches, printed on a greyish white paper (which yellows with exposure to sunlight over the years)," said Mr Whyte.

"Smaller versions are later reproductions and are generally not valuable. Similarly, original photographs of the Rising are highly prized but later copies are not valuable. Usually originals are sepia in colour on thick paper and the surface of the photograph is shiny."

Know the provenance of an item and the story behind it before you buy. "Always buy from reputable sources and always look for provenance - the item's history - where it's from, supporting material, and so on," said Mr O'Boyle of Adams Auctioneers.

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

Sunday Indo Business

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