Bound in blue velvet, richly embroidered and embossed with gold and silver lace, a 1637 Bible said to have been carried by the hapless Charles I before he was beheaded sold a far higher than predicted £160,000 in London.
Part of a December 17 sale at Bonhams (27.5/25/20/13.9% buyer’s premium), it is said to have been given by Charles to William Juxon, then Bishop of London, who in 1649 officiated and delivered the last rites to the king. However, it has long been known as the ‘Stonewood Bible’, after the family into whose possession it later passed.
The embroidered decoration of the binding features the familiar Prince of Wales feathers and crown motif, circled by the royal motto and surmounted by a large crown, initially flanked by the initials C and P. The latter has been altered to R, perhaps suggesting that at some stage the Bible had been given by the Prince of Wales to his father.
English rose and Scottish thistle emblems appear at the lower corners of the binding.
Another binding that played a part in a lot’s success was that made for a 1687 edition of Aesop’s Fables. With texts in English, French and Latin, this edition was self-financed and largely produced by and for Francis Barlow, after whose originals the many engraved illustrations were made.
Barlow’s Aesop was first published in 1666, but most copies were destroyed when his London shop burned down in the Great Fire that year.
This second edition, however, is considered the culmination of Barlow’s book illustration work and was the first to contain the 31 principal plates illustrating Aesop’s life, and the quatrains by Aphra Behn engraved in place of Thomas Philpott’s original captions within the 110 half-page illustrations.
Complete with the the so-called ‘indecent’ plate that is often missing and in a contemporary black morocco binding by a craftsman known only as ‘Barlow’s Aesop Binder’, it sold at £19,000.
Bid to £65,000 was a presentation copy of Benjamin Franklin’s Experiments and Observations on Electricity…. Untrimmed in rebacked contemporary boards, this was a fourth edition copy of 1769, but one inscribed “from the author” in Franklin’s hand.
Rorke's Drift by Chard
A group of 15 lots focused on England’s South African wars included the manuscript first draft of an account of the famous 1879 engagement with Zulu forces at Rorke’s Drift (see News, ATG No 2474).
It was one that Lieutenant John Chard, VC made for Queen Victoria.
Estimated at £15,000-20,000, it sold at £140,000, while many of the 14 lots from the same family collection raised far higher than predicted sums and a further £240,000.