Wednesday 21 March 2018

Easter Rising mementoes are worth serious money

Easter Rising memorabilia is worth a lot of money, and will rise with the centenary only two years away.
Easter Rising memorabilia is worth a lot of money, and will rise with the centenary only two years away.
Louise McBride

Louise McBride

This Thursday marks the 98th anniversary of the Easter Rising – and if you own medals or memorabilia from the famous rebellion, hold on to them. The centenary of the Easter Rising is only two years away and any rare mementos of the insurrection could make tens of thousands – possibly hundreds of thousands – in the run-up to the centenary.

"In 2016, because of the heightened awareness of the event, people may buy something as a souvenir and that may force prices up," said Ian Whyte, managing director of Whyte's auctioneers.

"However, a lot of collectors and dealers may also decide to sell in 2016 – so you may have an oversupply."

Even if over-supply is not an issue and there is strong demand for Easter Rising memorabilia as the centenary approaches, the price you fetch for your prized possession will depend on the memento itself.

An arm band from a 1916 veteran could struggle to sell at auction – but a rare signed copy of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence could be worth hundreds of thousands.

Letters signed by leaders of the rebellion and rare medals should also sell well.

Last month, a letter which was handwritten and signed by Padraig Pearse sold for €2,100 at Whyte's collectables auction – up to 75 per cent more than expected.

Silver commemorative medals marking the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Rising fetched €1,300 at the same auction – about twice what they had been estimated to sell for.

Mementos of the 1916 Rising aren't the only keepsakes which might yield a small fortune.

So what else might be worth rummaging around your attic or family cupboards for?

First World War guns, medals and letters

There's always demand for certain memorabilia when an anniversary is coming up, according to Jon Baddeley, an expert on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow and managing director of the London auctioneers, Bonhams Knightsbridge.

This July marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War, so there is a lot of interest in medals, guns and letters from that time.

"Most evocative are the letters," said Baddeley.

"We've just sold a set of letters sent back from the front which described Christmas Day on the trenches when the German and British troops downed guns and played football together.

"Those letters made over £10,000 (€12,100)."

There's been a great revival of interest in the First World War over the last few years, according to Whyte.

"There's huge Irish interest in that war because of all the Irishmen who fought in it," said Whyte.

"Now, the great grandchildren of these Irish soldiers are collecting the medals of regiments like the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Royal Munster Fusiliers and so on."


If you have held on to coins which your grandmother or great-granddad passed on to you – or you simply stumble across a box of old coins in your home, have a good look through them.

If you have any Viking coins which date back to 900AD, they could be worth tens of thousands of euro. You could sell a good Viking Dublin coin for between €12,000 and €15,000, according to Whyte.

For example, a rare helmet-type Viking coin with a picture of King Sitric, a Norse King of Dublin, sold for IR£2,500 in 1995, according to Whyte.

"In 2011, that same coin sold for €12,000," said Whyte.

Old Irish half crowns, shillings, florins and bank notes could also be worth a small fortune.

Last month, a large collection of coins fetched €10,500 at Whyte's historical auction.

That collection, which included Irish and English half crowns and a James II 1691 halfpenny, had only been expected to sell for between €2,000 and €3,000.

"Bank notes are doing well at the moment and they will in the future too," said Whyte. "There were lovely bank notes in the old days with the likes of Lady Lavery on them and so on. They've great appeal."

Other treasure troves

"Every home has something valuable – particularly if you are lucky enough to have kept something from your parent's day," said Whyte.

"Small houses occupied by the same family for 200 or 300 years will certainly yield something. A ticket or piece of paper signed by a famous person could be valuable. Maybe your father went to see The Beatles in the Adelphi in 1963. If he managed to get all four Beatles' autographs at the time, that could be worth between €2,000 and €5,000."

Boxes of letters or old photo albums or postcards may also be valuable – particularly if they have any historical significance. "Look through your parents' or grandparents' photo album and check if they took any photos," advised Whyte. "They might have a photo of a bomb explosion or a photo with someone famous in it. Old sports programmes, such as GAA and soccer matches from the Forties and earlier, can also be valuable."

Old china tea sets might also be worth a few bob, according to George Stacpoole, president of the Irish Antique Dealers' Association (IADA).

"There's been a revival of interest in china as afternoon tea has become very popular recently," said Stacpoole.

"The value of the china will usually depend on the date it was made."

Old posters, car models and toys could also be worth something – particularly if they are in good condition. If in doubt about the value, ask an expert. A scrap metal dealer who bought a golden egg at a US bric-a-brac market discovered it to be a rare Faberge egg made for Russian royalty and worth around €24m.

Most of us don't have Faberge eggs lying around our attics – but we live in hope.

Pitfalls when buying a bit of history

If you're considering investing in a 1916 Proclamation or other historical nugget in the hope that you'll double your money in a few years, be careful. It's important to do your homework before pouring your money into anything.

Auctioneers usually steer clear of advising people to invest in collectables.

"Historical collectables are for collectors – not speculators," said Ian Whyte of Whyte's. "I recommend that only people who are seriously interested in collecting things get involved. There are so many pitfalls with collectables – names can be forged and so on. The price of genuine things can go up – but you need to know what genuine is. If you buy wisely, you will make money, but it's very long-term."

If you believe that you can spot a bargain and could make money from collectables or memorabilia, here are seven rules to play by before investing.

1. Study the market carefully – if you buy at the height of the market, you might never get your money back. Buy during a downturn and you could pick up a bargain. "During the boom years, people were paying three times the value of the object – or more," said Whyte. For example, an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation sold for a record €390,000 in late 2004. Today, you could buy a 1916 Proclamation for between €100,000 and €150,000.

2. The rarer the item, the more valuable it is and the more likely it is to appreciate in value.

3. Know the provenance of an item and the story behind it before you invest. "A medal in its own right is no use," said Jon Baddeley of Bonhams. "Provenance and history are massively important. Be wary of things which don't have provenance. Be careful who you are buying from. Get an invoice from everyone. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is."

4. If buying at auction, know whether you are purchasing from an individual or a business, advises the National Consumer Agency (NCA). "Consumer rights only apply when you are buying from a business," said a spokeswoman for the NCA. "You do not have the same rights if you are purchasing from another consumer as it is a private sale."

5. Make sure you are satisfied with the quality of the item and that you know exactly what you are buying. "Second-hand goods are 'sold as seen' – you cannot expect second-hand goods to be of the same standard as new products," said the NCA spokeswoman. "There may be some fault, imperfection or wear and tear."

6. Get an expert opinion – particularly if spending a lot of money. "For high value items, such as jewellery, antique furniture or other collectables, we would recommend that consumers take the time to get a clear understanding of the history and value of the item they are buying," added the NCA spokeswoman. "To do this, it may be necessary to get an expert opinion on authenticity and value before deciding to purchase."

7. Know the costs you will be hit with should you sell something. If selling at auction, commission could gobble up as much as a fifth of any price you fetch. You will usually be charged Vat (Value Added Tax) on the commission. You could also have to pay capital gains tax of 33 per cent on any profit you make. Remember the first €1,270 of profit made selling collectables in a year can be earned tax-free.

GPs have 'less confidence' in generic drugs, research says

About one in seven GPs would choose a branded drug over a generic version, a new study has found.

The study, by researchers in the University of Limerick, also found that about nine out of 10 GPs and pharmacists have received complaints from patients who used generic drugs.

The researchers discovered that GPs have less confidence in generic drugs than pharmacists do – 12 per cent of GPs do not believe that generic drugs work as well as the original brands, compared to 2 per cent for pharmacists.

About 15 per cent of GPs would prefer to take branded drugs for themselves rather then generics, according to the study.

However, only 7 per cent of pharmacists felt the same.

Last summer, a new law kicked in which allows pharmacies to offer cheaper generic versions of drugs to patients.

Before the law was introduced, if you were prescribed a branded drug by a doctor; you could not get a cheaper alternative because pharmacists were legally obliged to sell the exact medicine prescribed by your doctor.

"This study provides important information about how the new legislation might be accepted," said Suzanne Dunne, the study author.

"If GPs have negative opinions regarding generic medicines, then their patients are likely to have a similar lack of confidence.

"Improving GPs' confidence in generic medicines is very likely to have a positive knock-on effect in improving acceptance of these medicines by patients."

Some key steps for Setanta customers

The collapse of Setanta Insurance has left around 75,000 motorists without cover. So what should you do if you're one of these 75,000 people?

1. Arrange alternative cover as soon as possible.

2. Those who have paid up front for their motor insurance will most likely have to apply to the liquidator of Setanta for a refund of their premium. However, there is no guarantee that refunds will be paid.

3. Setanta is currently continuing to manage claims so it is the contact for any claims queries. All payments of claims are currently suspended, however. You will have to wait until the liquidator has determined all the liabilities of the company before you will find out if your claim will be paid – and this exercise is likely to take considerable time.

4. Once the liquidator is formally appointed, you will need to deal with the liquidator about claims. At that stage, it would also be useful to contact the broker who sold you the insurance as he will be able to advise you whether your claim might be covered.

Sunday Indo Business

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business