Our 6th October book auction offers a range of travel and illustrated books relating to various parts of the world, including some unusual titles reflecting the complex history and politics of the Middle East, and especially the Gulf States. From the collection of the diplomat and former ambassador to Qatar, Edward Firth Henderson (1917-1995), who spent the bulk of his career nurturing Britain’s relations with the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain, the collection includes the original edition of John Gordon Lorimer’s Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf (2 volumes, Calcutta, 1915 and 1908), which is of legendary rarity. It is thought that no more than 225 copies were printed, and as it was originally classified as a secret document, very few copies appear to have survived. This copy which includes several leaves supplied in facsimile carries an estimate of £2,000-£3,000.
From another private source is a similar type of government handbook, this time relating to the North-West Frontier and printed in 1941. The work was issued as a practical military and political handbook of the region, including Afghanistan, and was the result of collaboration between British officers and clandestinely-employed local tribesmen. This lot is attractively estimated at £200-£300.
Continuing with the Indian theme we are also offering two folio works bound together from the era of the Siege of Lucknow, containing tinted views of the destruction caused by the siege, as well as views of the city itself. This is C. H. Mecham’s Sketches and Incidents of the Siege of Lucknow, 1858, as well as Lieutenant-Colonel D. S. Dodgson’s General Views of the City of Lucknow, 1860, carrying an estimate of £1,500-£2,000.
Closer to home is an album containing 79 original watercolours copied from William Daniell’s famous aquatints in his Voyage Round Great Britain (originally published between 1814 & 1825). The watercolour album concentrates exclusively on Scottish scenery, and includes Orkney, the Clyde, Fingal’s Cave, Staffa, Glenvargle Bridge near Portree, Skye and elsewhere. This attractive portfolio album is estimated at £2,000-£3,000.
A fine private collection of Thomas Bewick titles will be offered amongst various natural history books, and includes a beautiful copy of the limited edition issue of Bewick’s Land Birds, Water Birds and Quadrupeds, published in 3 volumes by Edward Walker of Newcastle in 1824-25. Limited to 100 copies only and here bound in a contemporary uniform green gilt-decorated morocco binding, it is estimated at £1,500-£2,000.
Something of a one-off in the present sale is a fine manuscript grant of arms for the 16th century judge and Chief Justice Christopher Wray (c. 1522-1592), comprising 22 lines of fine manuscript text with decorative border, and a large painted coat of arms with bearings and decorations in gold and colours. Christopher Wray was one of the assessors at the tribunal of Mary Queen of Scotts held at Fotheringay Castle in October 1586, when despite her impassioned plea to be spared, she was condemned to be executed. In excellent condition, this important Tudor document is estimated at £4,000-£6,000.
Further early works offered in this sale include an incunable edition of Pope Gregory’s Dialogues published by the Strasbourg printer Jakob Eber around 1481 (£1,200-£1,500). A range of mostly 17th-, 18th- and early 19th century science and medicine completes the antiquarian offerings on this occasion, amongst which is included a copy of John Harris’s Lexicon Technicum in two folio volumes of 1704-1710 (£1,000-£1,500), a 1st edition of Joachim Dalence’s meteorological work Traittez des Barométres of 1688 (£400-£600), and William Hunter’s Medical Commentaries in its 2nd edition of 1777, a work in which Hunter defended his claim to be the discoverer of the lymphatic vessels against his rival Alexander Monro (£400-£600).
Our Autumn offering of fine art and antiques, which take place on the 13th and 14th October builds on recent successes in our rooms, particularly in the fields of Old Master drawings and historic textiles, where this company has a growing reputation for careful research and expertise.
Amongst a number of highlights are an oil study after Correggio by Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), executed during Reynolds’ stay in Italy in 1752. Previously in the collection of the Duke of Marlborough, this work is included in the recent catalogue raisonné of the artist’s paintings by Mannings and Postle (estimate £2,000-£2,500). Also likely to generate interest is a Dutch marine oil on panel depicting galleons in a squall off the coast, dated to the 17th century, although it is quite possible that it originates from the later 16th century. In rather worn condition, this intriguing work carries an estimate of £700-£1,000.
Works on paper are well represented and include a typical study by the Bolognese artist Biagio Pupini (1496-1575) in pen, ink and lead white on pale blue paper. With compositions on both sides of the sheet - a copy after Giulio Romano’s famous decorations in the Palazzo del Te at Mantua, as well as a Holy Family – this lot offers the potential buyer two works for the price of one. Other early works on paper include Italian mannerist and Baroque studies and compositions by or attributed to Georgio Vasari, Remigio Cantagallina, Domenichino, Pietro Bernardi, Giovanni Lanfranco, Pier Francesco Mola, and Stefano della Bella.
A fine selection of mainly English portraits and miniatures, principally from a Cotswolds private collection, includes an exquisite portrait of an as yet unidentified young lady bedecked with pearls, attributed to Andrew Plimer (1763-1837), who was taught by the pre-eminent Regency miniaturist Richard Cosway. This fine miniature is set with 89 faux seed pearls around the outer border with a lock of her hair encased on the reverse side bearing the initials W. C. G. (estimate £700-£1,000).
Day two presents a variety of carefully selected antiques and collectables including Chinese export and Anglo-Indian hand-carved chess sets from the 19th century, including a rare Vizagapatam Pepys chess set of circa 1820 made for export for the East India Company, exemplifying the fascinating adaptation of traditional Indian carving techniques to the western market (estimate £3,000-£5,000). Grand Tour intaglios will be offered in attractive groups, including several lots from the collection of Michael Jaffé (1923-1997), former director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.
Fine examples from the heyday of Regency square piano manufacture are also offered from a private collection, including instruments by Broadwood, Thomas Tomkison (‘Maker to His Majesty’), William Henry Edwards, and the Dutch manufacturer Van der Does of Amsterdam.
The sale concludes with historic textiles drawn from several private collections, and includes a fine rococo embroidered headboard produced in Piedmont around 1750 in excellent condition, featuring chinoiserie decorations, a style which flourished in Italy during the 18th century (estimate £2,000-£3,000), a rare American souvenir cotton handkerchief satirizing the Californian gold rush, in fine condition, of which only one other copy has been traced at auction (£800-£1200), and from modern times, a Rosebank Fabrics colour printed linen Map of Fairyland of circa 1920, based on the original design by the Birmingham artist Bernard Sleigh (1872-1954), here estimated at £300-£500.
The fascinating insights into the past offered by all these beautiful examples are due to no small part to the judgement and research of our specialists Susanna Winters (miniatures and textiles), Henry Meadows (antiques), Natasha Broad and Nathan Winter (fine art).