James Craig's blackthorn walking stick expected to fetch £5,000 at auction
A WALKING stick owned by Northern Ireland's first prime minister, James Craig, is expected to be sold for up to £5,000 when it goes up for auction in Belfast next week.
Craig, who led the Ulster Unionists between June 1921 and 1940, was one of the architects of partition.
He also played a key role in his party's opposition to the third Home Rule Bill in 1912.
The blackthorn stick was bought by a private collector in England a few years ago for around £30.
However, Karl Bennett, managing director of Bloomfield Auctions, said he expects the stick to be sold for between £4,000 and £5,000 on Tuesday.
The auction house sold a walking stick owned by Irish revolutionary Michael Collins for £52,000 several weeks ago.
Sir James's stick is accompanied by a silver collar to commemorate his first public visit to Lurgan in 1925 - four years after Northern Ireland was established.
Mr Bennett said he expects particular interest in the item in Northern Ireland's centenary year.
"The blackthorn walking stick is accompanied by a silver collar emblazoned with the words, 'presented to the Rt Hon Sir James Craig Bart D.L. on the occasion of his first public visit to Lurgan 1-4-1925'," he said.
"The walking stick would be perfect for someone with a particular interest in history to add to their collection.
"Similarly, I think museums and some political parties also may be interested in acquiring it.
"Like many of the items we auction here, this walking stick is steeped in history and undoubtedly has a phenomenal story to tell.
"I'm still in a little bit of shock with the amount that Michael Collins's cane sold for just a few weeks ago and I do anticipate that Mr Craig' s cane will go for approximately £5,000.”
The blackthorn stick will be sold during an online auction on Tuesday.
For more information, visit www.bloomfieldauctions.co.uk