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At £1600, a small piece of red damask curtain that once formed part of the curtains around the bed in which Byron and his first wife, ‘Annabella’, spent their wedding night was tempting as representative of that Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium) sale in South Cerney.

First things first

Shown above, however, are a couple of modern firsts that brought two of sale’s higher bids.

Estimated at just £200-300 but sold at a record £4300 was an exceptionally well preserved copy of Aldous Huxley’s first book, Crome Yellow of 1921. In 2017, a copy in a frayed and soiled jacket made £850 at Sotheby’s. However, the previous best was achieved at Christie’s South Kensington in 2015, when a copy that was generally stained, bumped and jacketless, but bore an inscription from Huxley to the bibliophile and former head of Sotheby’s book departments, Anthony Hobson, sold at £1300.

Sold at £2800 in South Cerney was a presentation first in a good jacket of Eric Ambler’s Cause for Alarm inscribed to Tom Webster, a Daily Mirror journalist.

The only copy to have made more at auction sported a less attractive jacket but was inscribed by Ambler for Otto Penzler, an editor of mystery fiction and proprietor of New York’s Mysterious Bookshop. At Swann Galleries in 2010 that copy sold at $7000 (then £4575).