At first sight, an 1859 first of On the Origin of Species… offered in a recent Nottingham sale looked pretty forlorn – but it ended up as the day’s best-seller.
An upper portion of the spine was missing, as was the half-title, while the inner hinges were cracked and separated from the text block of the copy for sale at Mellors & Kirk (20% buyer’s premium) on September 17.
Sticky tape repairs were not a notable attraction either, but the modest initial estimate of £7000 or so was left far behind and it reached £32,000 before being knocked down to a US bidder on thesaleroom.com.
The record for a first of this famous work was set by Hindman of Chicago last November when a very fine copy made $460,000 (then £357,420).
Gift from Wesley
A notebook whose principal attraction comprised hymns written in both English and in shorthand by the leader of the Methodist movement, Charles Wesley, sold at £7000.
According to an inscription by the Rev Edward Spencer, it was given to him c.1770 by Wesley and had remained in his family ever since.
An evangelical member of the established church and schoolmaster, Spencer was the incumbent of St Mary’s Church at Wingfield in Wiltshire for 43 years, and one of his pupils was Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859).
Bid to £6000 was a diary kept by a young Englishwoman, Harriett Brundell, at the time of the Indian Mutiny of 1857.
It presents descriptive and lengthy entries for every day and includes details of an eventful and perilous flight to Calcutta from the bungalow at Mirzapur that she shared with her her husband, an engineer engaged on the construction of the East India Railway.
At one stage, travelling by river, Harriet and her companions were offered protection by “…a Ranee attended by four hundred sepoys in boats, but …felt confident that her sepoys would murder us during the night and saw nothing but death before us”. To her great relief a steamer came to their assistance and she was eventually reunited with her husband.
Sold at £10,000 was an extraordinary autograph album kept by the Right Rev Rowley Hill, Bishop of Sodor and Man (1836-87). It also incorporated contemporary portrait photographs, engravings, press cuttings and much more besides.
Ordained in 1860, Hill’s ascendancy in the Church of England was swift and he became the youngest Anglican bishop aged just 41.