Thursday, October 29, 2009

Auction Report: Byron Letters Set Record, Other Prices High

Today's Sotheby's London sale of Books and Manuscripts from the English Library of the 5th Earl of Rosebery, went very well. The total take was £1,522,303. The big story was that trove of Byron letters to his friend Francis Hodgson (lot 19, estimated at £150,000-180,000); that sold for a whopping £277,250 ($459,000), a record for letters or manuscripts by a British Romantic poet. More on this at Jacket Copy.

Some other items which sold well were John Speed's The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain (1676) (lot 107, estimated at £50,000-60,000), which made £69,650; Christopher Saxton's 1579 atlas of England and Wales (lot 99, estimated at £40,000-60,000 and sold for £73,250); and for a real surprise, John Rocque's 1763 Set of Plans and Forts in America (lot 95, estimated at £7,000-10,000). That more than quadrupled its estimate, fetching £46,850. 

Lot 1, a manuscript copy of James Abercromby's An Examination of the Acts of Parliament relative to the trade and the government of the American Colonies, also did very well; it was estimated at £6,000-8,000 and sold for £49,250. A nice association copy of Bligh's narrative (lot 10) also made £49,250, better than tripling its estimate. A four-volume collection of broadsides and tracts relating to the English Civil War (lot 46) sold for £58,850 (estimated at £8,000-12,000). Sir William Hamilton's work on the volcanos of Sicily (lot 54) made £94,850, almost doubling its estimate.

Finally, John Dee's copy of John Hardyng's Chronicle (lot 56) made £55,250, doing much better than its £10,000-15,000 estimate.

Quite a day over there!

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