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Sold for £11,000 by Tennants (20% buyer’s premium) on March 15, this part set presented some 228 of the 320 or so original watercolours with which Lewin laboriously illustrated all 60 sets of this extraordinary work of 1789-94*.

Other highlights included An Essay on the Food of Plants and the Renovation of Soils by John Ingen-Housz, a very rare presentation copy of a work by a man whose discovery of the mechanism of photosynthesis has been described as “one of the great misplaced chapters in the history of science” (also see preview in ATG No 2382). It sold at £1300.

A number of lots made far higher than predicted sums, among them, at £800, Sierra Leone, or, the Liberated Africans… of 1835. Comprising letters written to her sister by Catherine Temple, the abolitionist daughter of the country’s governor, it made £800 on thesaleroom.com.

Further travels

An anonymous manuscript journal of investigations into abuses of the Porto wine trade and an oblong octavo album of ink and watercolour drawings and sketches made by a Joseph Green on a round trip from England to Australia and Tasmania via Bombay, both dated 1829, sold at £950 and £2200 respectively.

Yet another unexpected success was a Bee-Keeper’s Experiences in the East, among the Queen Raisers in the North of Italy and Carniola (the latter a region now part of Slovenia) that was published in Welwyn for its author, Thomas Blow. It made £900.

An 1894, George Allen edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice illustrated by Hugh Thomson and in the publisher’s elaborate blue and gilt, peacock decorated binding sold at £700.

Bid to £750 were two well-bound volumes containing unpublished manuscript fairy tales, ‘…The Ugly King’ and ‘Princess Liliola’.

Dated 1863 and ‘65 respectively, they featured characters such as Fidelio and King Benevenuto I. That may or may not suggest a Continental European origin, said the cataloguer, but a brief pencil note does record the fact that the author died of cholera in Italy in 1869.

Thomas Onwhyn’s Glass of Grog of 1853, a satirical publication in concertina form that offers 50 excuses for drinking spirits and only one objection to the practice, sold for £550. Its creator was a once prolific but now little remembered artist and cartoonist whose illustrations for a pirated version of Pickwick Papers were once dismissed by Dickens as being of a “singular vileness”.

* In a Forum sale of March 28, a group of 89 of Lewin’s watercolours sold for £4500.