The Bodleian has acquired a rare 15th century French Gothic coffer.

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Bodleian buys rare books carrier

The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries has acquired a rare 15th century French Gothic coffer – one of the largest-surviving examples of a late medieval box used for transporting precious books.

The price has not been disclosed but the chest was offered in a Pierre Bergé auction in Paris in November 2007 with an estimate of €40,000- 50,000. It was bought for an unknown sum by specialist manuscripts and medieval art dealership Les Enluminures, which sold it to the Bodleian.

Only around 100 of this type of book coffer are known to still exist. Most of them contain woodcut prints attached to the inside of the lid, suggesting that they may have been used as travelling altars as well as for carrying valuable books.

The coffer went on view in Oxford this week as part of a display at the Bodleian’s Weston Library called Thinking Inside the Box. It features bags, books and carrying cases that have been used to transport books through the ages.

An impressive ‘3D’ online model of the object has also been developed by the Oxford Internet Institute.

Welsh saleroom reopens after flood

Three months on from a devastating flood, Carmarthen saleroom Peter Francis is once again a hive of activity.

A general antiques and collectables sale of 700-plus lots on January 30 will be followed on February 13 by a quarterly ‘fine’ sale – the first since the saleroom was forced to close in mid-October.

It was on October 13 when, in the wake of Storm Callum, the River Towy entered full flood and spilled into Carmarthen. The Old Station Road saleroom was engulfed in nearly 4ft of river water with the auction room floor, some storerooms, offices and reception area all impacted.

Loss adjusters, cleaners and tradesmen were quickly on site (the firm was fully insured). However, the hiatus of 10 weeks between sales was the longest proprietor Nigel Hodson could remember. He paid tribute to all of those who had helped to reopen the saleroom in remarkably quick time.

Indian tray put on export hold

A south Indian Bidri pear-shaped tray dating from the 17th century has been temporarily blocked from export from the UK by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).


This south Indian 'Bidri' tray dating from the 17th century has been temporarily blocked from UK export.

The DCMS hopes to find a buyer to pay the £75,000 asking price and keep it in the UK. The current owner bought the tray after it was offered for sale by dealer Simon Ray last year. They applied for an export licence which has been deferred until April 17, and may be extended until July if a serious intention to raise funds is made.

The tray is rare due to its size, shape and the metalworking created by the technique called Bidri. Most of its ownership history is unknown but it was acquired by London antiques dealer Anthony ‘Tobi’ Jack in the capital by at least 1974 and was owned by the collector Bashir Mohamed from 1974-2017.

007 laser rifle blows away estimate

A laser rifle created especially for the futuristic 1979 James Bond film Moonraker sold for £22 ,000 at As ton’s Entertainment & Memorabilia auction on January 17.

Estimated at £4000-6000, it had been consigned by the son of the late Brian Bailey, as were 16 other lots in the sale.

Bailey was a British accountant who worked in Hollywood with stars such as Roger Moore on various Bond films. He was the production accountant on Moonraker and is named in the end credits.


James Bond 'Moonraker' laser rifle prop – £22,000 at Aston’s.

Another crime website launches

A King’s Lynn antiques centre has launched a Stolen Antiques and Art in East Anglia – Dealers Only Facebook group as a platform to share information about art and antiques crimes.

Owners of The Warehouse Antiques and Collectables set up the site after several hundred pounds worth of jewellery was taken following a cabinet break-in at the Norfolk centre in January 2018. Dealers in the region are invited to join the private online group, which the centre’s Kate Clark describes as a place for information to be “easily and quickly shared”.

A similar site was launched late last year by Richard Payne-Withers and Paul Henshaw, two south-west of England dealers. Their site, Antiques Watchdog, was also prompted by local thefts.

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2 Marchant ring at 195-times top estimate

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4 Gallery takes legal action against Christie’s over private sale of Francis Bacon painting

5 Sellers and buyers beat the Brexit and winter blues at IACF Ardingly

In Numbers


The number of lots from the extensive pencil collection of Bond Street silver dealer Kenneth Bull offered by Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury on January 22. Leading the sale at £7200 (estimate £1500-200) was this gold and enamel quill-form pencil by Cartier that came in its fitted case.


A gold and enamel quill-form pencil by Cartier with fitted case that sold a Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury.

Aldridges’ sale

Due to an internal production error in ATG No 2376 (page 29) the logo and contact details for Aldridges’ January 29 Fine Art sale were omitted. The correct version was published on our digital platforms: and mobile app. Apologies for the error.