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The Walton Collection

Half-size 1916 Copy of Proclamation of the Irish Republic. One of only two known copies in existence. (Limited Edition)

Half-size 1916 Copy of Proclamation of the Irish Republic. One of only two known copies in existence. (Limited Edition)

Exceptionally rare half-size 1916 copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. One of just two copies known to exist, it's discovery sheds new light on the 1916  Proclamation story. This is fully explained in the historical notes below. 

We believe from the information available that this copy is the earliest known reproduction of the original Proclamation which was most likely reproduced in the weeks following the Rising of 1916. It is identical to the half-size copy of the O'Hegarty Collection which is currently in the Spencer Research Library in the University of Kansas, making it just one of two such copies known to exist. The text and typography is also identical to the larger copy version , also available from the Walton Collection, andwith which it was found. Both versions in The Walton Collection are closer to the original proclamation than any other versions which were ever produced (including the version printed in the Sinn Féin Handbook in August 1916  and the ICA 1st Anniversary copy from Easter 1917). For anyone interested in the story of the Proclamation this is one of the finest and most poignant items of memorabilia from 1916 and will provide many talking points, many of which are discussed below. 

This of the 250 Limited Editions is reproduced on 260 GSM water colour paper, and mounted on a mottled pine green suede backing which is set behind glass in an aged black wood mahogany style and handmade frame. Each Proclamation comes with a numbered Certificate of Limited Edition from The Walton Collection and a printout of the historical notes. 

Historical notes:

If you have already read the extensive narrative on the other reproduction of the larger Proclamation copy, you will be aware that this half size version is identical to that version in every respect except its size and the paper it was printed on. 

It is also identical in both size and print to the version of the Proclamation in the O’Hegarty Collection of the Spencer Research Library of the University of Kansas, a half-scale reproduction that is 38 cm in height. The only difference to this copy in our copy is the missing corner and partial loss of text in "Poblacht" in the top left hand corner and that, unlike the Kansas University copy which has text underlined by pen, ours is unmarked. Our version was also folded at some point so is in two parts which became separated , albeit the text is fully readable when both parts are joined.

Until this recent discovery in The Walton Collection the University of Kansas half-size copy was thought to be only copy of this version in existence, and the date of it's publication and origin was uncertain.

To quote the typographer James Mosley in 2010 on this Kansas City University version,

 "Like the larger copy there is extensive retouching, but it has been done quite independently of the version in the Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook. The retouching was applied not only to the heading but to some quite minute details throughout the whole text, where imperfections in the original are painstakingly redrawn. The 'M' in the name of Eamonn Ceannt is cleaner and sharper than it was in the original. The damage to the 'R’s' in line 4 of the heading is repaired, and the improvised 'E' in line 5 is of course redrawn, but in a different manner from that of the Irish Times Sinn Féin Handbook version, and several letters like 'H', of which the serifs were almost closed up, have had them opened out. Another instance of redrawing that is not found elsewhere is the 'F' of in line 5 which has a sharp top right-angled corner which looks very different from the equivalent letter in the original. On the other hand, the serif of the 'L' in the same line is not retouched [DW -nor had it been in the ‘1917’ ICA reprint]. The broken end to the rule under the first line is repaired for the first time [DW- also repaired in the larger version in The Walton collection  which Mosley was unaware of and had not seen] . However, there is one other detail in the ‘Kansas’ version that does not appear in the ‘Gill Sans’ later versions [DW- which we know were printed after 1932, nor does this detail appear in the Sinn Fein Handbook version of 2016]. On the right hand side of paragraph 4, the first part of the text that was reset, some spaces between the words have risen in several of the lines and their inked impressions are visible. These rising spaces can be seen in a few copies of the original Proclamation: those at Leinster House and the Ulster Museum, for example."

In both this half size version version and the larger version in The Walton Collection we see these flaws remain clearly in place where the 'l' in "equal" rises well above the 'a', in precisely the same manner as the original Proclamation. These can be seen more clearly in the close-up detail in the picture inset below.

Quoting Mosley further " In the relatively high-resolution image of the ‘Kansas’ version that has kindly been provided and is shown above by courtesy of the Spencer Research Library (Kansas University) , it can be seen that the printing has the even overall ‘colour’ of a photographic reproduction, and is clearly the product either of a line block or photolithography. There appears to be no evidence with which to establish an exact date for this document, and one would need to examine it carefully to be sure of the process used, but it does not show the irregular inking and impression produced by the worn and damaged types of the original Proclamation. If the half-scale ‘Gill Sans’ version was produced in the 1950s or later, as seems at least possible, then printing by offset lithography may have been be the more likely process for its production."

 When Mosley wrote the above he was not aware of a second "Kansas" copy in our possession which is heavily aged, nor of an identical larger version of the Kansas copy in my grandfathers collection which has all the hallmarks of similar paper from the period from posters actually dated 1916. Nor was he able to inspect either to establish the paper and exact print processes for each, keeping in mind that either version could be a copy of the other.

But then also consider Bouch's following throw-away comment at the end of his 1936 book on the Proclamation:

More work needs to be done on the paper used but it would seem reasonable , based on the quality and aging of the two versions of the same print now available in The Walton Collection, that both these copies, and definitely this half-size version  actually predates the Sinn Fein Handbook copy of August 1916 so were most likely printed very shortly in the weeks after the rising.

It is also worth considering that in the weeks following the Rising, those Volunteers who had escaped arrest kept a very low profile and certainly did not mention their involvement as the general public's  sympathies were still very much against the rebels. This is confirmed in some detail by my grandfather in his interview with Harlan Strauss in 1972. It makes perfect sense therefore that those among the Volunteers wishing to recirculate the detail of the Proclamation would produce a reduced  and more portable version which would be more easily secreted and less likely  to be seized and suppressed by the authorities, as any pro-rebel material was for some considerable time after the Rising. 

Regrettably I have been unable to contact James Mosley and given he was elderly on his last visit to Dublin in 2010 from the UK where he lived I can only assume that sadly he is no longer with us. But his excellent work and research is,  so for two excellent and fascinating reads of Mosley's Blogs on "The Image of the Proclamation of the Republic 1916", go to: 

https://typefoundry.blogspot.com/2010/01/image-of-proclamation-of-irish-republic.html 

and

 https://typefoundry.blogspot.com/2010/09/the-proclamation-of-irish-republic.html.

 I will welcome any additional information or observations interested parties can provide.

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