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In poor condition, but eventually sold at a low estimate £200 was a 20pp manuscript record book of courts martial held at a marine barracks near Plymouth in the years 1769-70.

Drunkenness, absence without leave and petty theft are the most frequently encountered offences, for which punishment was generally a generous award of anything from 50 to 600 lashes. One poor fellow was sentenced to 200 lashes “...for being absent from the Infirmary without leave and returning drunk and calling Sgt. Turner a Buggare”, but another miscreant who had purloined and either sold or otherwise made away with a new pair of shoes and stockings was sentenced to 500 lashes and to be “Drumm’d out as scandal to the Corps”.

Sold at £980 to a private buyer was a journal, letters and other material relating to the experiences of Edwin Smith, who in July 1852 left his Wansborough (Wiltshire) home to seek his fortune at “the diggings” in Australia. “I have not found a nugget...” he writes in one letter, but he nonetheless managed to make substantial and regular remittances to those he had left at home.

The National Library of New Zealand spent £250 on a four-page typewritten duplicate of a report on the 1911 British Eclipse Expedition to the Friendly Islands by I.W. Swan, one of the crew of HMS Encounter, the cruiser that carried the expedition team. It was not a great success; all the spectroscopic instruments on which so much depended produced “practically nil” results, and “the best photograph”, writes Swan, “was taken by one of our own seamen with an ordinary box camera”.

An enormous archive relating to the life and work of the topographical writer Edmund Vale (1888-1969) just made the reserve price of £900, not the £1500-2000 suggested by the cataloguer, who had hoped it might attract an institutional bid and remain intact.

The earliest of the printed books was a 1494 edition of Summa Aurea de Virtutibus [The Seven Cardinal Virtues] with illuminated capitals and some marginal decoration. In a 17th century vellum binding, it reached £1000 (Page).

Strides, Chichester, November 6
Buyer’s premium: 15 per cent