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Offered in 96 lots, many of them multiples, this English 1899 collection was offered without reserve at the instructions of the vendor, but neither he nor the auctioneers could have doubted that the rarities would make their money.

The collection raised a total of £46,420 and there were several strong, four-figure bids.

An 1867 Tinsley first of the book that is No.1 in Newbolt’s Henty bibliography, A Search for a Secret, the three volumes in the publisher’s blue stipple-grained cloth – brought a bid of £3400 from Heritage, whose shopping list also included an 1897, Chatto & Windus first of The Queen’s Cup, a novel that Newbolt says was issued in only 350 copies and was one of the last three-deckers ever to appear.

A fine copy in decorative cloth, it reached £3600, but the most expensive Henty of the day went to a collector.

This was one of 400 copies of the 1894 first edition of one of Henty’s adult novels, Dorothy’s Double. The Story of a Great Deception, which with some rubbing and soiling to the publisher’s blue cloth and Mudies’ yellow library labels to the upper covers of all three volumes, brought a bid of £4000.

Also sold to a private buyer, at £3000, was a first of Rujub the Juggler. In the publisher’s patterned cloth, this was one of just 500 copies published in 1899.

An 1868 first of The March to Magdala, a collection of articles written for The Standard as a special correspondent during Lord Napier’s Abyssinia expedition (and Henty’s second published book), went to Sumner & Stilman at £1600, while a fine copy of the 1883 first of Friends, though Divided, a tale of the American Civil War, went at £1200 to Eastman, an American specialist in Henty’s works.

Estimated at £100-150 and offered “as a periodical”, but then sold at £3200 to a private buyer, was a copy of the Summer number of Tinsley’s Magazine for 1880 which (bound in with a copy of the Belgravia Annual) contained a contribution by Henty called Seaside Maidens.

Illustrated here are three other titles from the collection. Left: an 1871 first of Henty’s first book for children, Out on the Pampas; or, the Young Settlers – a tale in which the principal characters bore the names of his own children, Herbert, Maud and Ethel, for whom the book was written. Griffith & Farran’s pictorial green cloth gilt binding is a bit rubbed, but it sold for £1000.

Centre: the 1872 first edition of The Young Franc-Tireurs, and their Adventures in the Franco-Prussian War is another Henty rarity. Newbolt quotes from the catalogue issued by John Carter and Michael Sadleir for their 1947 exhibition of ‘Victorian Fiction’, in which it is stated that “many of these books [Victorian adventure
stories] are rarities in fine state: one or two – notably Young Franc-Tireurs – are rare in any condition. This one went to Blackwells at £1100.

Right: an 1880 first of The Young Buglers. A Tale of the Peninsular War, went at £420 to a private buyer.