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When the judge at her trial was assured by her accusers that Jane could fly, he pointed out that there was actually no law against that in England, but she was eventually found guilty and he had no choice but to sentence her to be hanged.

Jane did eventually receive a royal pardon but the case prompted a pamphlet war between those of opposing views and eventually led to the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which abolished witch hunts and even forbade accusations of witchcraft.

Crime and punishment

Sold at £3000 at the sale on April 7-8 was a 1773, first edition of The Newgate Calendar, or Malefactor’s Bloody Register…, bound as five volumes in contemporary calf.

Originally published in 50 parts, these tales of crime and punishment have been regarded as a forerunner of the crime fiction genre and an important source for the social history of Georgian Britain.

Varied selection

Earlier printed works included a 1486, Venetian printing of Paul of Venice’s commentary on what are known in English terms as Aristotle’s ‘Posterior Analytics’. Containing detailed and contemporary marginalia and in a now worn 16th century vellum binding, it sold at £8500.

Among the many maps, examples of Christopher Saxton’s maps of Norfolk and Gloucestershire, dated 1574 and 1577 but both slightly later issues of around 1579 and exhibiting contemporary colouring, were sold at £2600 and £2000 respectively.

Bid to £8500 against an estimate of £300-500 was an 1836 transcript of a 1582 licence relating to the marriage of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway.

It was produced for and bears pencil notes in the hand of Sir Thomas Phillipps, one of England’s most famous bibliophiles and a collector on truly grand scale.

Among bookbinding tools and related material offered at the sale’s end were a number of folio volumes of blank hand made paper.

One such volume, running to 178 leaves, dated to the late 17th century and contained in a contemporary vellum binding with green fabric ties, was sold at £2600.

More lots from this 550-lot auction are described in the captions below.