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In a ‘honeysuckle’ chintz cloth binding designed and specially produced for the purpose by the author, printer and publisher, one of 250 copies of William Morris’ The Roots of the Mountains of 1890 – a work said to have provided inspiration for JRR Tolkien – was sold last month by Toovey’s at £950. In 2015 a copy of this work that Morris inscribed for Oscar Wilde was sold at Sotheby’s for £25,000.

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One of the top lots, at £3400, in a recent West Sussex sale was a 1644, Parisian folio first of the natural philosopher Sir Kenelm Digby’s Two Treatises…

Part of a Toovey’s (24.5% buyer’s premium) sale of February 19, this was a work that in its first and larger portion deals with “…the nature of man’s bodies”, and was derived in large part from the author’s discussions with the catholic philosopher Thomas White.

The second part focuses on the nature of man’s soul and what happens to it after its separation from the body.

One conclusion that the author draws is that “the souls of men addicted to science whilst they lived here are more perfect in the next world than the soules of unlearned men”.

Bound in 18th century red morocco gilt, this copy showed some dampstaining, spotting and browning but was one that the author, who saw it as his greatest philosophical work, inscribed for his son.

Another Kenelm, the younger Digby, was also the dedicatee but three years later, and aged just 23, he met his end in battle during the English Civil War, at St Neots.

School days

Sold at £2200 in the Washington sale was a manuscript of 265pp in which the Rev Samuel Seyer (1757-1831), a Bristol historian, schoolmaster and cleric describes his upbringing in Gloucestershire and his unhappy time at Oxford, as well as providing details of his family and, among many other things, his experiences as a schoolmaster.

The latter include a rebellion of boys intent on shooting him – “but only in the legs” – in retribution for the suffering and harsh discipline they had endured.

In addition to works on the history and topography of Bristol, Seyer also published a translation of Vida’s The Game of Chess and works on Latin syntax and the principles of Christianity.

ATG No 2381 noted the sale by Dominic Winter of a composite atlas containing an 1843 issue of Arrowsmith’s early map of Texas. Another example of that Texas map was included in an Arrowsmith atlas that made £8500 in this Toovey’s auction.