Radclyffe, who grew up near Regents Park and London zoo, entered the trade in 1944 when he became a junior assistant in the Natural History at Bernard Quaritch in Grafton Street. Becoming one of London’s foremost experts on the subject, he was made a director of Quaritch in 1973 before retiring in 1987 after 40 years with the firm.
Among his many successful deals was the acquisition of the library of aviation pioneer and “modest millionaire” Captain Vivian Hewitt which included a complete set of John Gould’s monographs on birds and a first edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America (among the world’s most expensive printed books).
With a strong emphasis on ornithology, the 266-lot sale at Roseberys features paintings by wildlife artist’s including Sir Peter Markham, Archibald Thorburn, Peter Scott and a large collection of pictures by John C Harrison (1898-1985).
One of the latter is a depiction of Black Grouse in a highland landscape guided at £3000-4000. Demonstrating the artist’s observational quality, the 22in x 2ft 6in (57 x 77cm) watercolour heightened with white over pencil was one of the numerous pictures Harrison exhibited at specialist galleries during his career. At one point, the artist’s work became so sought after that collectors would have to pull a name from a hat in order to buy.
Among the books on offer is a first edition of A Century of Birds from the Himalaya Mountains by John Gould and NA Vigors from 1830-2, estimated at £8000-12,000, and a second edition of K Narushima and Hitoshi Miyama’s Birds of Japan from 1893, estimated at £2000-4000.
The catalogue for the Howard Radclyffe collection is now available on thesaleroom.com.