The Bloomsbury Auctions sale of artefacts from 20th century China includes a vivid red poster featuring a portrait of Mao above a group of armed Irish rebels, with the Tricolour flying alongside the flag of China.
The poster refers to the “54th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising” and the first anniversary of the “Historic Ninth National Congress of the Communist Party of China”.
Although no date is mentioned, both anniversaries occurred in 1970. It has not yet been possible to establish who produced the poster or where it was used.
During Mao’s rule, lurid propaganda flourished and was presented in many formats including posters, films, books, drawings, handicrafts, paintings, photographs, paper currency, prints and sculptures.
The “Irish” poster is part of a collection of propaganda material amassed by an American collector. A spokeswoman for Bloomsbury Auctions said “the collection was put together over many years and the collector travels to China regularly and buys there too”.
But the Irish poster is puzzling the auctioneers who specialise in selling rare books and manuscripts. The unnamed collector bought the poster in New York and believed that it must have been “produced in Ireland, based on the type of paper used and the fact that no one has ever seen another copy or even heard of such a poster”.
Unusually, the poster does not bear the name of the organisation in Ireland that made it. The collector “regards it as extraordinarily rare, if not unique”, the spokeswoman said.
The poster, with a pre-sale estimate of £1,000 to £1,500, will go under the hammer on Thursday.