A copy of The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women, a work of 1821 that is “thought to be the first printed book of Limericks”, sold for £1700 at the Dominic Winter auction.

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So said Forum Auctions (15/20/12% buyer’s premium), which in a July 12 auction sold a slightly browned and marked copy in the soiled but original printed wrappers for £1700.

The verse that accompanies the first of them, ‘Mistress Towl’ (above), reads: “There was an Old Woman named Towl, Who went out to Sea with her Owl, But the Owl was Sea-Sick, And scream’d for Physic, Which sadly annoy’d Mistress Towl”.