His collecting interests extended beyond Cornwall to Irish life and literature, archaeology, the Celtic language, Methodism and much more besides.
The library of this Cornish polymath, as he was once described, was offered by David Lay (18% buyer’s premium) on May 16.
Familiar Cornish works, such as William Pryce on minerals and mining, and William Borlase on the county’s antiquities and natural history, were of course present, but less familiar works also made a mark.
Sold at £1950 was a copy of the second and only published part of William Hals’ Complete History of Cornwall of c.1750. In modern half calf it had the first four pages supplied in typescript and a spike hole ran through most of the other 154pp, but the price underlined its rarity.
In contrast, a three volume, 1817 first of CS Gilbert’s Historical Survey of Cornwall… in half morocco gilt by Bayntun was described as “perfect” and sold at £600.
Sir John Maclean’s The Parochial & Family History of the Deanery of Trigg Minor… of 1873-79, the three volumes now worn and loose in their cloth bindings but complete with a map, 67 plates and three pedigrees, was another success at £450.
Among Thomas’ Irish books was a copy of John O’Brien’s Focaloir Gaoidhilge-Sax-Bhearia, or an Irish English Dictionary, published in Paris in 1768. An interleaved copy in a later binding, it was believed to have belonged to the lexicographer Peter O’Connell and sold at £1150.