‘L’Abbé Quille’ is one of 84 hand-coloured plates – 12 each of seven subjects – that make up a French magic trick book of c.1799 sold for £2900 by Dominic Winter.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

In original marbled wrappers, it is an example of a ‘Blow Book’, in which a skilled operator could, by a quick blow and a swift rifling through the pages, produce different sets of images – dependent on which way up it was held and from which notch on the fore-edge it was thumbed.

The date, I note, was suggested by a ‘99’ watermark identifying the paper as made by Montgolfier – the brothers from Annonay who are today remembered not for their successful and innovative paper manufactory, but for their epoch-making experiments with hot air balloons.