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A spread from the heavily annotated and enlarged naval signal book sold by Halls at £11,000.

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Together with the 83 printed pages with their hand-coloured flags and pennants, as seen in the accompanying illustration, this work offered at Halls (20/12% buyer’s premium) contained numerous pages of additional manuscript notes on signals and other maritime matters.

In April 1794, on board Admiral George Purvis’ flagship, the 96-gun HMS Boyne, this signal book had been presented at his command to Captain James Young of HMS Reprisal - just a day before the British fleet, taking advantage of the chaotic situation that followed on from the French Revolution, seized control of Guadeloupe in the West Indies.

Nightingale arrival

Other highlights of the June 2 auction included a letter on black-edged mourning notepaper in which Florence Nightingale informs an un-named recipient that she will soon be arriving in the Crimea, but notes “I hope I shall not be so troublesome to you as last time”.

It realised £1900.

Sold at £6000 was a Parlophone Records postcard that bore on the back the autographs of the Beatles and was accompanied by a ticket to the 1963 concert at which it was signed.