Ulster Covenant print shop sells at auction for £15,000

A 110-year-old Ulster Covenant printing plate has sold for £15,000 at auction.

A historic printing plate bearing the words Ulster Covenant went under the hammer at Bloomfield Auctions in east Belfast on Tuesday.

It exceeded initial expectations, which predicted it would fetch between £10-12,000.

It was sold alongside an Irish tricolor linked to Irish Republican Army (IRA) commander Michael Collins, which fetched £2,800.

The Ulster Covenant was originally signed by the prominent trade unionist, Sir Edward Carson, in 1912.

He expressed his opposition to the Third Home Rule Bill which had been introduced by the British government that year. It was intended to resolve the long-standing “Irish Question” by granting Ireland some degree of independence.

Unionist opposition at the time was on an enormous scale, with nearly half a million people from widely diverse backgrounds, including workers, professionals, clergy and aristocracy, signing the Ulster Pact.

The Irish flag had once been attached to Michael Collins’ state car.

As a Republican leader, Collins had been involved in the Easter Rising of 1916, but also became more prominent during the ensuing Irish War of Independence and peace talks with the British.

He was later assassinated in 1922 during the civil war that followed Irish independence.

Speaking about the auction, Karl Bennett, Managing Director of Bloomfield Auctions, said: “I was delighted with our most recent sale and the price at which key items sold.

“This year marks 110 years since the signing of the Ulster Covenant and 101 years since the formation of Northern Ireland and I think that makes selling the printing plate that much more poignant.

“I was very happy to see it fetch £15,000, which I didn’t really expect, despite the huge interest in this article.

He added: “The item relating to Collins has also sold very well. Over the past few months we have sold a number of interesting items belonging to Collins including a cane and a lock of his earlier hair. this year. I knew there would be great global interest in the flag we had for sale this time and the auction did not disappoint.

“At Bloomfield Auctions we have become synonymous with selling historic items from across Ireland that serve to capture the turbulent times this island has seen. That’s why we think sales like these are so important – they’re a fantastic way to remember and even cherish the past.