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Concerning Biggles and the witches, cookery, Egypt and corkscrews

10 June 2004Written by ATG Reporter

THE estimates were rather modest, but prices paid for some of the Biggles books offered as part of a May 21 sale held by Keys of Aylsham bode well for the Biggles collection that Dominic Winter are to sell on June 24. In Aylsham, Hamilton copies of The Black Peril of c.1936, in soiled blue cloth, and The Cruise of the Condor, an undated Ace series title with adverts for Spring 1937, were valued at around £40 apiece but sold for £1050 and £480 respectively.

Earlier books saw a £1250 bid on a 1665, third edition of Reginald Scot’s Discovery of Witchcraft that lacked the half title and blank leaves in a modern binding. Sold at £460 was a 1776 Dublin edition (in rebacked old calf) of The Adventures of a Corkscrew, in which, under the pleasing method of Romance, the Vices, Follies and Manners of the Present Age are exhibited and satirically delineated... I gather that the characters and actions selected by the anonymous author to “promote virtue, expose vice and laugh folly out of countenance”, include the traditional fallen women, gamblers, corrupt politicians, criminals and clergymen.

Comprising 60 engraved plates of 1777-91, without title or text, a folio collection of Designs for Various Ornaments by Michelangelo Pergolesi was sold at £1800, while A Specimen Book of Pattern Papers designed for and in use at the Curwen Press, one of 220 copies published by the press in 1928, sold at £850.

In an old blind-stamped calf binding, a 1710 [first?] edition of Patrick Lamb’s famous Royal Cookery..., illustrated with 35 engraved plates, was sold for £1900, while a 1726, third edition with 40 plates, and in worn old calf, went for £600. Illustrated with 10 chromos, an 1873 copy of Goffe’s Le Livre de Patisserie made £280.

Sold at £650 was a seven-vol. set of Bewick’s Natural History of British Quadrupeds, Foreign Quadrupeds, British Birds, Water Birds, Foreign Birds, Fishes and Reptiles, Serpents & Insects issued c.1814 and still in the original printed wrappers, brought a bid of £650.

As with Dominic Winter’s sale of the previous week, this Aylsham sale contained several lots made up of Gould plates – in this instance incomplete copies of various part of Birds of Australia. Top price of £1300 went to a lot offering 10 (of 16) coloured litho plates from the first supplementary part of 1851. Sold at £680 was a 1915-18 first edition of Thorburn’s British Birds with its 82 colour plates, the main four vols. in the original cloth gilt, the supplement in card wrappers.

Other highlights from this 1350-lot sale included a copy of R.M. Junghaendel’s Egypt, a portfolio of 27 loose heliogravures produced in 1893 by the Berlin Cosmos Art Publishing Co. The Keys catalogue describes this as a copy produced specially for Thomas Cook with an added(?) introduction by C.G. Rawlinson, but I note that the entry in the Sefik Atabey library catalogue (Sotheby’s, 2002) describes the 1893 first edition as containing in the preface, an acknowledgement of the facilities afforded by the firm to Mr Junghaendel during his trip up the Nile. This collection of photographs and explanatory text, which was published “in order to keep the reminiscences fresh in the memory of those who have returned home, or to awaken the desire to see the Wonder of Egypt...”, was sold at £950.

Juvenilia included a few instructional board games, one of which was The Royal Game of British Sovereigns exhibiting the Most Remarkable Events in each Reign from Egbert to George III. Published in 1815, this linen-mounted engraving features 53 coloured illustrations that make up a spiral track was in the original slipcase and sold at £360.

Printed on silk, a Bill of Fare for a Lord Mayor’s Day Dinner of 1851, complete with original envelope and embossed invitation card to the dinner, was the principal part of a job lot that sold for £1050 – although who could resist two embossed paper lace invitation cards to the 1849 opening of the new Coal Exchange?
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ATG Reporter

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