John Faber’s posthumously published mezzotint version of a portrait by John Vanderbank of Nicholas Saunderson (1682-1739) – £1600 at Dominic Winter.

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Born in Yorkshire in 1682, he lost his sight through smallpox when only a year old, but as he grew up he developed ways to calculate without pencil and paper and in many other ways proved a fine scholar.

Later, at Cambridge University, he was recognised as an excellent teacher and in 1711 elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a post previously held by his friend Isaac Newton.

Possessing acute senses of hearing and touch and able to mentally resolve long and intricate mathematical calculations, Saunderson also devised a calculating machine or abacus that enabled him to perform arithmetical and algebraic operations by touch alone. Known as his “palpable arithmetic”, it was described in his posthumously published Elements of Algebra.

In 2006, Saunderson’s life was turned into a musical, No Horizon, by Andy Platt, headmaster of Springvale Primary School in Penistone, the Yorkshire market town at whose free grammar school Saunderson had learned French, Latin and Greek. It was also performed that same year at an Edinburgh Festival ‘Fringe’ event.

The mezzotint sold for £1600 at the auction on February 17.

Meet the All Blacks


Signatures of 30 rugby players, the original ‘All Blacks’ – £4400 at Dominic Winter.

Again well over estimate, the day’s top lot, sold at £4400, included on two sheets of paper the signatures of 30 rugby players and the words ‘New Zealand Football Team’s visit to Northampton, 28 September 1905’.

These were ‘The Originals’, or rather the original ‘All Blacks’, who in the years 1905-06 toured Britain, France and North America. They beat Northampton 32-0 and on a 35-match UK tour defeated all opponents and won all bar one of their test matches. They lost 3-0 to Wales at Cardiff Arms Park but overall scored 976 points and conceded just 59.

Churchill fan

Some 50 lots in a December 17 sale of military and aviation history held in South Cerney included a collection formed by the late Major Alan Taylor-Smith, who on retirement from the computing world opened a bookshop specialising in Churchilliana in Westerham, close to his hero’s much loved private residence at Chartwell.

Highlights included, at £3800, an 1898 first of The Story of the Malakand Field Force… with manuscript corrections attributed to Churchill, and a 47-volume collection of his works, mostly firsts and uniformly bound in red morocco by Sotherans, that made £22,000.

The latter included a first Colonial edition of …Malakand Field Force, signed and presented by Churchill to Regimental Sergeant Major W Brown of the 4th Hussars.