Some 60 lots in a recent Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium) sale, all of them multiples of varying size, featured large numbers of caricatures and satirical prints.
That reproduced above was also used as the catalogue front cover of the October 3 auction in South Cerney and was part of an album of 43 caricatures by Cruikshank, Rowlandson, Woodward and others that sold for £3000.
This Rowlandson print is titled Accomodation Ladder and the fellow clutching his telescope as he climbs the ladder has the words ‘Death or Victory’ on the red edging of his coat.
The giant ‘winking’ woman has a version of Nelson’s famous Trafalgar signal, ‘England expects every Man to do his Duty’ on her hat ribbons, while just above the number 74 on her dress, a yellow belt bears the words ‘Belly Rough One’.
With a nudge from an online V&A catalogue, I now recognise it as a reference to HMS Bellerophon, the ship to whose captain Napoleon was later to surrender on what he thought was a safe passage to England but proved to be his journey into exile.
“This print makes fun of the idea of a physical relationship between a diminutive man and a huge woman,” says the V&A, “...punning on the phrase ‘accommodation ladder’, which means a ladder up the side of a ship from a small boat”. It also notes that “the cannon and cannonballs... are also a visual innuendo”.
A contemporary account of The Arctic Expedition of 1875-76 led by Sir George Nares was one of the travel highlights of the sale and sold for a much higher than predicted £5000.
Aside from a striking pictorial litho front cover, it includes a folding litho map as a frontispiece and two wood engraved plates and is the work of Robert Johnston.
‘Compiled from official sources, with a summary of previous adventures in the Arctic seas’, as the full title records, it is something of a rarity, but as one might expect, there was a copy in the great Franklin Brook-Hitching library. That one, which had the original pictorial front cover mounted on later wrappers made £3000 at Sotheby’s in 2015.
The lot that followed Johnston’s book in the Gloucestershire sale also made more than suggested.
An oblong folio Russian atlas of 1852, issued by the Military Topographic Depot in St Petersburg and with a title that translates as ‘Educational Atlas of the Russian Empire’, it contained 22 hand-coloured litho maps and a leaf of city plans.
This was a copy in the original gilt embossed, green moiré silk binding, but the fact that it was once to be found in the library at Tsarkoe Tselo, the summer residence of the Russian imperial family, may have had some bearing on the price.
Maritime entries in the sale included a 1750 first of Thomas R Blanckley’s Naval Expositor..., a dictionary of shipbuilding terms by a sometime Clerk of the Survey at Portsmouth. In a good period binding of sprinkled tan calf gilt, its well illustrated pages crisp and clean, it sold at £1300.
Sold at £1150 was a 1754 first of Mungo Murray’s Treatise on Ship-Building and Navigation... At the time he compiled the work Murray was shipwright at Deptford, but later, during the Seven Years War, served at sea under Lord Howe