Natural History performed strongly, the top lot of the sale being £413,000 for a 17th-century Dutch manuscript florilegium (est. £30,000-50,000), followed by £106,250 for a fine print of Audubon’s Snowy Owl, and £93,750 for a set of Gould’s book on Humming Birds, and there were good results for a private collection of bird books.
In the Travel section the top bid was £68,750 for three Ottoman watercolours by Luigi Mayer, and £62,500 was bid for a complete set of Rosellini’s finely illustrated work on Egyptian antiquitiesfrom the Duke of Genoa’s library, whose uncle Leopoldo II had financed Rosellini’s expedition.
A magnificent collection of English County histories, comprising 33 lots, were all sold, and there was interest in a collection of early 19th-century British topographical watercolours by Henry Petrie, the top bid being £50,000 (est. £10,000-15,000) for a collection of over 600 watercolours and sketches of Kent churches, castles and monuments.
Early travel photographs from the 19th and early 20th centuries continue to appeal to buyers, the top price being £50,000 for an album of Amoy (Xiamen) in China, followed by £40,000 for a Sarawak album, £32,500 for John Thomson’s Antiquities of Cambodia, and £18,750 for an album of the Sikhim and Tibet border regions by John Claude White.
In Maps and Atlases, the top price was £47,500 for a complete set of Richtofen’s China Atlas, followed by £37,500 for a large woodcut plan of Beijing, and £32,500 for a Mercator and Hondius atlas of 1610. A collection of Leo Belgicus maps and a Leo Hollandicus were all sold for a total of £54,000.
This sale traditionally contains books, manuscripts, prints and photographs from around the world; in this instance including photographs of China, Cambodia and Tibet, fine books on the Middle East, and manuscript maps of Sri Lanka, amongst others. Unusually, it also has probably the best collection of English county histories dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries ever to appear at auction. Almost every county is accounted for, most are illustrated with views, and many of the volumes extra-illustrated or large paper copies, often with exceptional provenance and all are finely bound.