The collection also included a view of Longwood, Napoleon’s residence in exile on St Helena, and another of Mauritius, but the bulk of the views feature locations in the Persian Gulf, Ceylon and the East Indies.
Most are cut down with loss of captions, sometimes replaced in biro, while others are crudely repaired or laid down and some show tears and soiling.
An accompanying note, dated 1959, speculates on their origin: “…it could be Robert Livie Mitchell, or Hugh Mitchell. I know that Basil Hall visited St Helena in 1817 and its a very funny thing that where ever Hugh Mitchell was Basil Hall was also there.”
A quick search reveals that the first-named Mitchell was at one time a naval officer, as indeed was Hall, who, having previously explored Java, accompanied Lord Amherst’s 1816 mission to China and surveyed the west coast of Korea and Japan’s Ryuku Islands.
In 1818 he published …a Voyage of Discovery to the West Coast of Corea and the Great Loo-Choo Island in the Japan Sea.
In 1817 Hall visited St Helena and interviewed Napoleon, presumably on his voyage back to England.
Sold at £6200 was a late 15th century album amicorum, or book of friends, that though it may later have been used by descendants, was originally compiled by David Graham, 6th Laird of Fintry.
It dates principally from the early 1580s, when Graham, one of those who wished to re-establish Catholicism in Scotland with the help of foreign armies, was travelling in Europe – as the coats of arms it contains attest.
Graham was involved in a plan to get Spanish assistance for his plans, even after the defeat of the Armada, but his downfall came in 1592 when letters to the Duke of Parma and other documentation proving his close links with Spain were seized. He was arrested, tried and beheaded in Edinburgh the following year.
Sold for £4200 was a 1718 first in period but worn panelled calf of Abraham de Moivre’s The Doctrine of Chances, or a Method of Calculating the Probability of Events in Play.
Only the copy in the Haskell F Norman library has made more. That one, inscribed to a fellow mathematician, James Stirling, and containing the author’s manuscript list of errata, sold for $17,000 (then £10,370) at Christie’s New York in 1998.
De Moivre (1667-1754) had left France in 1685, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the persecution of Huguenots, and spent the rest of his life in London. Edmund Halley and Isaac Newton – the latter the dedicatee of this work – were among his close friends.
The first 130 lots offered in the Edinburgh catalogue had come from the collections of the late ‘Bob’ Dickinson, sometime lecturer in classics at Durham university and for 25 years proprietor of a bookstall in that city.
Two of those lots, a famous Bewick print and a 19th century riding guide for ladies, feature in the caption stories above.
As featured in ATG No 2313, a job lot that sold for £16,000 rather than the suggested £200-300, topped the prices in this sale of some 650 lots in all.