Specialist Bibliographical & Fine Art Auctioneers, Dominic Winter’s recent book auction in Gloucestershire, was a well-rounded display of books, both ancient and modern, set alongside related artefacts including maps, prints, bookbinding accessories, historical documents and ephemera. A good turn-out and active phone and internet bidding saw over 80% of the 650 lots sold.
As often, many of the higher prices achieved were among the atlases and colour plate natural history items, many reaching into four-figure prices. More locally, a copy of Sir Robert Atkyns’ Ancient and Present State of Glocestershire (1712) fetched £1,650. Many copies of this rare first edition were lost in a fire and the famous double-page bird’s eye views of country seats have been popular ever since. In the natural history section a well- presented album of mid-Victorian Brazilian fern specimens collected by Vice-Admiral John Edward Parish outstripped its estimate to reach £1,050.
While the section of maps typically featured many 17th and 18th-century examples, it was a much later colour-printed map of the British Empire from 1886 that proved one of the stars, fetching £1,400, five times estimate. The delightful decorations on this two-foot wide map were by the noted Victorian artist and illustrator Walter Crane. A small section of ever-popular globes had as its highlight a miniature globe. Measuring just 1.75 inches and dating from around 1830 it fetched £800.
The historical documents and ephemera section always throws up some surprises and the old adage ‘where there’s muck, there’s brass’ was highlighted by a small archive of ephemera relating to the Salvage Association estimated at £200-300. The three cartons of ledgers, photo albums, prints and a Delftware dish, was saved from the skip by a bemused employee, who is now celebrating the recycling of this material which hit £1,400.
The antiquarian books featured many examples of early printing dating back to 1478, but also included more modern and decorative lots such as this smart set of Pierce Egan’s Boxiana; Or, Sketches of Ancient and Modern Pugilism. Dating from 1812 the five-volume set, with illustrations by George Cruikshank, smartly bound in later crimson half morocco fetched £860. A bit like marmite, maths is a subject to love or hate, but a small circle of devotees helped a private library of 3,000 books on the history of maths raise a total of £15,000, bang on estimate.
Among the more modern books in the sale a reasonable first edition copy in dust jacket of Ian Fleming’s Goldfinger fetched £230, Siegfried Sassoon’s first slim volume of poetry, An Ode for Music, 1912, one of only 50 copies, fetched £560, while a group of 9 poetry books inscribed by Ted Hughes fetched £1,000.
Auctioneer Chris Albury said: “As often, this book sale demonstrates that there is still life and interest in book collecting even if the demise of Bonhams at Oxford, Bloomsbury Auctions at Godalming and book sales at Woolley & Wallis may suggest otherwise. Increasingly, we find ourselves in a field of one with the major auction houses only interested in high value items and significant libraries. Our autumn book auction schedule looks very busy, but more consignments in all categories are always welcome”.