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Three private press books are pictured here (see captions below), but also of note in this section of the sale was a 1933 Ashendene edition of Longus’ Les Amours Pastorales de Daphnis et Chloe, illustrated with wood engravings by Gwen Raverat and supplied with coloured initials by Graily Hewitt, which was in the original vellum-backed boards and sold at £800 to Collinge & Clark.

One of 100 signed, deluxe copies of The Arabian Nights, as illustrated by Edward Detmold and bound in pictorial vellum gilt for publication in 1924, brought a bid of £2800 from Bromlea & Jonkers.

The distinctive yellow and red printed cloth binding was worn and soiled, and newspaper clippings attached to verso of the dedication leaf had produced offsetting to the contents leaf, but the Dracula seen at Phillips was an 1897 first of Bram Stoker’s classic, and it brought a bid of £1800 from Adrian Harrington. This copy was described as an “issue with 8pp of advertisements & without ‘The Shoulder of Shasta’ extra leaf inserted after the title”, but on December 19 last, at Sotheby’s, a rather better looking copy, catalogued as a second issue with that Shasta leaf and a further 16pp of advertisements at the end, brought a bid of £3000.

Hot on the heels of the set offered in Godalming by Hamptons (see issue nos 1477 &1478) came another first edition of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy of 1955-56. This one was not as nice – the cloth bindings showing some staining, and even fading and tears in Vol.I, while the dust jackets were torn with loss – but it brought a bid of £5500 from Peter Harrington.

Like the Godalming sale, the London auction also had its early James Bond book in jacket – in this instance a copy of the fourth title, Diamonds are Forever of 1956, which sold for £880.

A much more recent modern first was A Touch of Frost of 1990 by R.D. Wingfield, which for those in hot pursuit of first editions of the D.I. Frost stories is the hardest case to crack. This copy was sold at £920 to a doubtless delighted collector.

From other sections of the Phillips sale came a 1745 (Bath) first of John Wood’s A Description of the Exchange of Bristol, slightly browned and soiled within its rebacked contemporary binding of mottled calf gilt, but illustrated with eight, mostly double-page plates, and sold at £700 to Cumming; a copy of J. Duke’s Compleat Florist of 1747, bound in later cloth and with some soiling and dampstaining throughout, as well as slight smudging to eight of the 100 coloured plates, that nonetheless reached the low estimate figure of £1500 (Shapero) and a two-volume, 1912 first English edition of Roald Amundsen’s account of his successful expedition to The South Pole in the original red cloth, which reached £920 (Cumming).

Right, top: the hand-coloured and gilt heightened frontispiece made by C.R. Ashbee for the 1904 Essex House edition of Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village. One of 150 copies in original blind stamped vellum, with additional decoration of illuminated first initial and further hand painted initials and tailpiece, it sold for £450 to a collector.

Right, middle: a page from the 1947 Golden Cockerel edition of Keats’ Endymion with wood engraved illustrations by John Buckland Wright. One of 100 signed and specially bound copies (of an edition of 500) in pictorial velum gilt by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, it went to a private buyer at £1100.

Right, bottom: the heavily ornamented woodcut title page of one of 500 paper copies of the 1893 Kelmscott edition of Tennyson’s Maud. In the original vellum, slightly soiled at the spine, it was sold at £820 to Barrie Marks, who also gave £1100 for a copy of the first Kelmscott volume to be printed in three colours, an 1896 Laude Beatae Mariae Virginis that was uncut in the original cloth-backed boards.

Phillips, London, February 16
Buyer’s premium: 15/10 per cent