The star lot on October 25-26 came from the specialist antiquarian books section offered on the second day. The books included some volumes dating to the early 17th century, as well as valuable items such as two folios of old London photographs from The Society for Photographing Relics of Old London.
They were consigned by Bath Library, which provided the majority of the books in the sale at about 100 lots.
The folios raced above the estimate of just £40-60, selling for £17,000 (plus 20% buyer’s premium). The contest involved multiple bidders in the room, internet bids and on the phone. The lot sold to a UK trade buyer on the phone.
There are 60 photographic plates in the first folio and 59 in the second. At the front of each folio are loose pages with brief descriptions of each photo.
The society was founded in 1875 with the purpose of recording buildings due to be demolished as part of planned redevelopment, and continued to do so until its dissolution in 1886.
The Royal Academy of Arts Collection website says: “According to Alfred Marks, the honorary secretary, the society was formed by a few friends who wanted to record the Oxford Arms inn which was under threat to be demolished to allow the expansion of nearby Old Bailey.
The availability of the ‘photographic views’ was publicised through a letter to The Times and as the project was well received, it was found practical to continue the series. In all 12 issues were produced over 12 years from 1875, comprising a total of 120 photographs.”
This was the first auction to use all three salerooms in the new building. It attracted a record number of visitors as well as registered online bidders.