The Library of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven Part II
Live Auction: 29 November 2022 • 10:00 AM GMT • London

The Library of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven Part II 29 November 2022 • 10:00 AM GMT • London

E ver since Sotheby’s started life in 1744 as a dedicated book auctioneer, we have been handling incredible libraries with the finest provenances. The library of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven is no exception: it is without doubt one of the greatest collections of natural history books ever assembled, containing volume after volume of spectacular and sumptuous works on botany, ornithology and zoology from the sixteenth to the nineteenth-century. These lavishly illustrated works are where art meets science; before the advent of photography, the only way to illustrate the natural world was through woodcut, engraving and lithography, these illustrations often being painstakingly coloured by hand.

The second and final part is replete with beautiful books recording every aspect of the natural world. Highlights include: a jewel-like florilegium containing original botanical drawings on vellum by Nicolas Robert, a comprehensive selection of works by Nikolaus Jacquin, the great Austrian botanist; and Saviero Manetti’s Storia naturale degli Uccelli, printed in Florence between 1767 and 1776, and one of the most beautiful birds to that date. This is a rare opportunity to encounter some of the rarest and most exceptional natural history books to be found.


Botanical Masterpieces

Leading the sale are some of the most precious botantical works to be found, including a unique Florilegium by Nicolas Robert on vellum in a remarkable contemporary binding that names the original owner, an incredible group of drawings of South American flora made by two of the preeminent French botanical artists for the scientific reports of the Bonpland and Humboldt expedition, and a rich collection of botanical watercolours produced in Vienna, as well as works by Redoute, Kerner and Buc'hoz.

Chinese and Indian Schools

Chinese and Indian flora and fauna are captured in these enchanting watercolours showing birds, flowers, fruit and insects as well as portraits and junks. Highlights include a handsomely bound nine volume set of drawings, a collection of Chinese watercolours from the famed library of George Spencer-Churchill, Marquess of Blandford (later 5th Duke of Marlborough) and "The Begum's book of birds", given by the Begum of Bengal in about 1780 to Mrs. Elizabeth Sophia Plowden.


The offering of fine bird books in the sale is headed by Saverio's Manetti's Storia naturale degli uccelli in five volumes, " of the finest bird books issued to that date and one of the most sumptuous publications of the Eighteenth century in Italy" (Christine Jackson, Dictionary of Bird Artists of the World). This is joined by Temminck's charming colour plate work from 1838 and Levaillant's exquisite engraved plates of toucans, rollers and birds of paradise.

Female Artists and Authors

The sale features a truly unprecedented offering of works by female artists and authors. Priscilla Bury is known for producing one of the best folios of botanical painting; Audubon himself subscribed to it. Famed for her stunning drawings of lilies, this sale features her exquisite drawings of Hexandrian plants. Elizabeth Blackwell's attractive herbal of exotic plants was created in order to raise funds to free her husband from debtor's prison. Despite the work being a success and resulting in her husband's freedom, he then abandoned Elizabeth and moved to Sweden. Joining these is an exceedingly rare drawing of a mandarin duck by the ornithological artist Sarah Stone.

Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin

A series of works by the esteemed Dutch botanist Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin augment the immensely strong botanical offering. The sale includes his Icones plantarum rariorum, with 649 hand-coloured engraved plates, his Eclogae plantarum rariorum which combines his Eclogae Plantarum bound with his Eclogae Graminum and beautiful Hortus botanicus Vindobonensis depicitng plants growing in the Vienna Botanic Garden.


During the Victorian era an obsession with orchids arose amongst wealthy flower collectors. Explorers were sent to the far ends of the earth in search of new and rare varieties of orchids, often leading to fierce rivalries and highly dangerous expeditions. Orchids were notoriously difficult to keep and grow and these books gave collectors valuable advice on orchid upkeep and cultivation as well as allowing them to 'have' a collection of orchids that required somewhat less upkeep.

Zoology and Entomology

Leclerc's extensive review of exotic and domestic animals was a groundbreaking success when it was published. This is joined by Buc'hoz's handsomely bound work that combines botanical plates, fossils, minerals and rocks with eighty zoological plates.

The Collection of a Connoisseur

Little is more exciting in the book world than the re-emergence of a great library, one that has lurked in the consciousness of bibliophiles and collectors but was effectively “lost”. This is one of those rare occasions, for the Broughton natural history library is exactly that. Formed, like the great libraries of Major Abbey, Lord Hesketh and H. Bradley Martin, in the middle of the last century, it has long been regarded as one of the most prestigious of its kind. Rich in the most celebrated books of the genre, it not only contains stunning examples of the most famous volumes but also a host of rarities.

To form such a library one must have the means, the passion, and the time to seek out the best. The Hon. Henry Rogers Broughton, later 2nd Lord Fairhaven (1900–1973) was blessed with all these requisites.

Henry Huttleston Rogers

The background to his family’s fortune lies in the career of Broughton’s father, Urban Hanlon Broughton (1857–1929), and maternal grandfather, Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840–1909), both major figures in the commercial life of the United States at the end of the nineteenth century. Urban Broughton grew up in England, trained as a civil engineer, and emigrated to America in the 1880s. He arrived there with a new solution for dealing with sewage in its rapidly expanding cities. His hydro-pneumatic system was rapidly adopted, and its success in Chicago made his reputation and early fortune. He then was invited to install the same system by the oil tycoon Henry Rogers at his hometown of Fairhaven, Massachusetts. When not at Fairhaven, Rogers, a descendent of a Mayflower pilgrim, lived at East 57th Street, New York, where he counted among his neighbours the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts, the Juilliards, the Cuttings and the Auchinlosses.

After completing his work in Fairhaven, Urban married Rogers’s daughter Cara and his father-in-law engaged him in his commercial activities, principally his partnership with John D. Rockefeller in Standard Oil but also banking, mining, and railways. Enormous fortunes were made which increased further when Cara inherited her share of her father’s wealth on his death in 1909. By that time Urban and Cara Broughton had two sons. The elder, named Urban after his father but known as Huttleston, was born in 1896 and Henry, who was to form the library, in 1900. After early education in the America they accompanied their parents to England in 1912 where they settled for the rest of their lives. In London Urban senior bought the newly completed mansion, 37 Park Street, Mayfair, just behind Park Lane. This vast house was to be the London centre of their lives until Cara died in 1939. Shortly afterwards he also acquired Park Close, a large house at Englefield Green near Windsor.

During this period Urban Broughton became the wartime MP for Preston, under Conservative Prime Minister Andrew Bonar Law; it was in his memory that Broughton acquired the Ashridge Estate in Hertfordshire, formerly the seat of the Dukes of Bridgewater, which in 1928 he presented to the Conservatives in memory of the Bonar Law. This was by no means the only act of philanthropy associated with the family. The year after, to avert a threat of development, Cara Broughton bought the famous Meadows at Runnymede where Magna Carta had been signed, and presented the entire site to the British nation in memory of her husband who died the same year. In recognition of his political and philanthropic work Urban Broughton would have received a peerage in the 1929 New Year’s honours but the announcement was delayed because of the King’s ill health and Broughton himself died before it could take place. It was therefore bestowed on his elder son Huttleston, who became 1st Baron Fairhaven. He went on to receive a hereditary peerage in 1964, which title passed to his brother Henry in 1966. Unusually the title was not of a British location, but rather celebrated the family’s home in America.

Urban Hanlon Broughton, Huttleston Rogers Broughton and Henry Rogers Broughton

Huttleston and Henry shared similar passions. After Harrow they both joined the 1st Life Guards. In the 1920s they bought properties together. The first was Barton Stud near Bury St Edmunds, acquired from Sir Edward Hulton in 1925. Next year they bought Anglesey Abbey near Cambridge where they lived together on the understanding that the first to marry would be the first to move. In the inter-war period this gave them time for other activities, most particularly the turf, gardening, and collecting. The latter two interests they clearly inherited from their family. Their grandfather had made a splendid, award-winning garden at Fort Phoenix and Cara’s sister Mai Rogers created the splendid gardens at Planting Fields, Oyster Bay, New York (now The Planting Fields Foundation). As to collecting, this too was in the blood, and photographs of the interiors of Planting Fields demonstrate this.

The interest in botany and ornithology was given further momentum in 1932 when Henry Broughton married Diana Fellowes. The newly-wed Broughtons bought Bakeham House near Windsor, and there they laid out an ambitious 53-acre garden surrounding the house. It is at Bakeham that one gets the first inkling of his embryonic library. In 1937 Broughton commissioned an inventory of the contents. It covered everything, including his collection of birds, kept in a fifteen-cage aviary decorated with “painted wood trellis with panels of Allegorical subjects”. But it is in the library where one discovers just how many volumes he had purchased even by this time; there are just over 100 volumes connected with natural history. His passion for birds and flowers also extended to pictures: in the library were watercolours by Ehret and Schouman whilst hanging on the walls in the adjacent rooms were works by Jan van Os, Jan van Huysum and others. Over the next twenty years the number of drawings and paintings would expand to form a great collection in its own right, ultimately given to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (see Georita Harriott “The Broughton Collection”, Curtis’ Botanical Magazine, vol. 23, no. 1, pp. 132 -140). Harriott notes “Lord Fairhaven also built up a magnificent library with an extensive collection of flower books, which ranked amongst the best in England… [His purchases] reflect his quintessential Englishman’s passion for horticultural, botany, and the design of garden grand landscape”.

The interest in books was also something he shared with his family. In Fairhaven his grandfather not only collected them but also gave The Millicent Library to the town in memory of his third daughter who died in 1890, which still stands today. It was also shared with his brother Huttleston, who added the library wing to Anglesey Abbey (see Purcell, Pearson & Hale, Treasures from Lord Fairhaven’s library at Anglesey Abbey, 2013).

Henry Rogers Broughton and Diana Broughton (née Fellowes)

In the 1930s Henry Broughton was enjoying the perfect life. He was rich, well connected and engaged in improving Bakeham. In 1937, after the birth of their son the previous year, this idyll was shattered by his wife Diana’s untimely death.

Now in his mid-thirties Henry Broughton, effectively a bachelor once more, seems to have taken consolation in collecting. It is during these years, 1937 to 1953, when he married again, that his collection of books paintings takes off. Fortunately for us he was meticulous in recording his purchases. In a small book he carefully noted his purchases, how much he paid, and where they came from. The earliest purchase noted was made in 1927: Perrin’s British Flowering Plants, bought from “Brown”, probably the book dealer William Brown of Eton. The ledger makes fascinating reading and reveals that his early association with Brown blossomed into transactions with a host of other dealers. Tantalisingly, he tends to refer to them with their initials, but many are discernibly the leading dealers of the day: Francis Edwards, Heywood Hill, Raphael King, Maggs Bros, Quaritch, Sawyer, Sotheran’s, Wheeler, Wheldon and Welsey, and so on.

After Broughton’s second marriage in 1953 the pace of acquisitions lessened, the last recorded purchase being made in 1960 (some Redouté plates from Heywood Hill). By this time, though, he had formed an outstanding collection, which then moved from Bakeham to his new house, South Walsham Hall, Norfolk. Here the books were installed in a large library he created on the first floor.

In 1966 Huttleston, 1st Lord Fairhaven died; in the spirit of the family’s philanthropy he left Anglesey Abbey with its collection to the National Trust. His title passed to Henry who now became 2nd Lord Fairhaven, and who, in turn, gave his collection of flower pictures to the Fitzwilliam between then and his death in 1973. The library passed to his descendants and largely disappeared until its reappearance now, some fifty years later.

It is one of the most magnificent private collection of natural history books that could conceivably come onto the market. Several equivalent collections including this kind of material were dispersed last century or in the early part of this one. The library of the 2nd Lord Hesketh was formed at the same time as the Broughton collection, and was sourced from many of the same dealers; it was sold in these rooms at the beginning of this century. It is interesting that both Broughton and Hesketh were Anglo-Americans with fortunes made across the Atlantic by recent forebears. In America, the collection of H. Bradley Martin was rich in ornithology of the kind found here. Bradley Martin, the beneficiary of the Phipps steel fortune, was another American with British connections – his aunt was the Countess of Craven. That famous library was dispersed in a series of sales conducted by Sotheby’s Parke Bernet in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Can such a library like the one offered here be formed again? Not easily. Indeed, it took Henry Broughton, 2nd Lord Fairhaven, well over thirty years to achieve it and that was during a golden age of such material being available. With the passing of time this has become less the case. This sale therefore offers the collector a rare opportunity to buy the best.

James Miller

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