It was made for an 1875 first of Lapidarium Septentrionale: or a Description of the Monuments of Roman Rule in Northern England, a work edited by John Collingwood Bruce for the Society of Antiquities of Newcastle and published by Bernard Quaritch.
The work itself is illustrated with plates and maps, but it is the binding of this copy that marks it out.
It is “formed of wood used in the foundations of the Roman Bridge built over the Tyne at Newcastle… by the Emperor Hadrian, AD120 and was made for Collingwood Bruce at Alnwick Castle.”
In an accompanying note, the editor explains that he was present when the last portions of the “third pier from the southern extremity” of the modern bridge (1775) built over the original Roman bridge was removed, after which “I brought away with me a log of the Roman oak”.
The carving on the boards features designs by a Mr Brown of the Carving Studio, Alnwick Castle, and the coins seen at the corners of the boards are genuine Roman coins.
The Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums house a number of other items made from the Roman bridge at Collingwood Bruce’s instigation, including a large bookcase, chairs and a few other books.
World of difference
In the same sale, the two highest-priced lots could hardly have been more different.
Bid to £55,000 was a first impression copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, while sold at £120,000 was a marriage contract by which Isabella of France was enabled to finance an invasion of England, depose her husband, Edward II, and place their son on the throne as Edward III.
The Bonhams sale took place on March 27 and a 27.5/25/20/13.9% buyer’s premium was charged.