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A 1937 first of The Hobbit, lacking the jacket and a bit bumped and frayed, as well as beginning to split at the lower spine joint and exhibiting some slight spotting, especially to the frontispiece and title, was rather shyly valued at £300-400, but sold at £4200 to Peter Harrington all the same, while a Lord of the Rings set of 1954-55, pitched at £800-1200, reached £6800.

The first volume of the trilogy was a later issue in a jacket that was torn at the joints and browned, as was that on the third and final volume, while the second volume, The Two Towers, lacked any form of jacket.

Tolkien did not, however, entirely dominate this part of the sale, for as the caption story below shows, Enid Blyton had a famous day out too!

Pick of the maps and atlases in this sale was a copy of the well known two volume SDUK atlas of 1844, in this instance one that was already loose and with a few of the outline coloured maps browned. Two Irish maps were missing, but the other 216 maps and city plans, like that of Philadelphia reproduced on page 40, ensured a bid of £2300 from an American buyer.

A Cary New and Correct English Atlas of 1793, containing 47 outline coloured county maps and bound in contemporary half calf, was sold at £650.

Pick of the British topographical lots was the copy of Atkyns’ Gloucestershire described below, a 1712 first edition which sold for £4600 to Patterson & Liddle, but I might also mention here a 40-lot collection of street and trade directories offered in Bath.

Ex-library, and often containing stamps, these were mostly sold as job lots and eight copies of Kelly’s Directory of Gloucestershire spanning the years 1897-1935, lotted with a 1934, limited edition Who’s Who in Gloucestershire, brought a bid of £420, but easily the most expensive of these lots, at £1650, was one which offered an 1864 Morris Gazetteer and Directory of Cheshire, together with “a quantity of assorted directories, visitations, etc.”.

A collection of printed ephemera, prints, pots and other artefacts related to the Crystal Palace and the Great Exhibition of 1851 included C.A. Lane’s Telescopic View of the Ceremony of Her Majesty opening the Great Exhibition of all Nations, a peepshow, which went to David Temperley at £780.

The natural history section of the sale included a 40-volume Jardine Naturalist’s Library in assorted bindings, which made £1900 (Fortsas) as a collection of 1270 coloured plates, and a copy of Lewis Wright’s Illustrated Book of Poultry that was coming apart but retained a full complement of 50 chromos and was bid up to £580 by Patterson & Liddle.

Books issued by the Gwasg Gregynog (a reincarnation of the Gregynog Press, or Gwasg) over the past 30 years formed the most important part of the private press entry, and among these lots was one of 15 special copies (from a 1983 edition of 265) of The Curate of Clyro: Extracts from the Diary of Reverend Francis Kilvert. Edited by Meic Stephens and illustrated by Sarah van Niekerk, it was bound in yellow silk boards edged in calf by James Brockman and reached £400.

A selection of Winston Churchill’s books included first editions of three of his earlier works, London to Ladysmith... and Ian Hamilton’s March of 1900 and My African Journey of 1908, but as the colour illustration on the front of the catalogue clearly showed, these were not in original cloth preferred by most collectors, but uniformly bound in tan morocco, and the three were to be had as one lot for £620.

Still in the original cloth, a six-volume set of The World in Crisis brought a bid of £620.

A group of 46 volumes from the Notable Trials series was sold at £600 (Wildey).

Other highlights included:

* Though Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves made the biggest financial impact in the children’s book section of the Phillips Bath sale, Enid Blyton’s more traditional, but nowadays less fashionable young heroes and heroines put up a good showing too. Seven of the eight titles that make up the Adventure series of books, all first editions of 1944-52 and in dust jackets of varying condition, brought a bid of £850, where just £100-150 had been projected (the missing title was the last in the series, The River of Adventure of 1955), while Nos. 3-17 of the Famous Five books, first editions of 1944-58 and all bar two in jackets – together with later impressions of the first two books in the series – improved on an estimate of £180-200 to raise a bid of £2300. Both lots went to Bromlea & Jonkers.

* ‘Dyrham, the Seat of William Blathwait Esq.’, one of 63 (of 64) double-page engraved plates after Kip from a 1712 first edition of Sir Robert Atkyns’ The Ancient and Present State of Gloucestershire which made £4600 in Bath. Calf bound, and rebacked to preserve the original spine, it bore the arms of John Frederick, Earl of Cawdor, on the covers.

* Also in rebacked calf, and sold at £400, was a 1799 copy of Samuel Rudder’s New History of Gloucestershire, which contains a folding map, frontispiece and 16 other engraved plates.

Phillips, Bath, January 22
Buyer’s premium: 15/10 per cent