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A group of 177 lots that opened a March 31 auction held by Forum (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) came from the estate of Alan Mitchell, a well-known book dealer who died in 2016, and his wife, Polly, who passed away just last year.

A watercolour drawing by Thomas Daniell of the Mausoleum of Sultan Purveiz, near Allahabad that made £45,000 in the sale was featured in ATG No 2538, and a couple of other lots from the Mitchell property are to be found among those illustrated or otherwise noted here.

Earlier works offered by Forum included a 1563, second edition of John Colet’s A ryght fruitfull monition c[o]ncernyng the ordre of a good christian mans life…, described as the Bute copy and bearing a Cardiff Castle bookplate. Preserved in an early 20th century binding of morocco gilt by De Coverly, it sold at £8000.

A 1631 copy of Thomas Lupton’s A Thousand Notable Things of Sundrie Sorts… that sold for £11,000 had many shortcomings in terms of condition, but an ownership inscription marked it out as special.


A spread from a rare colour plate book focusing on east Africa, Thomas O’Neill’s Sketches of African Scenery, from Zanzibar to the Victoria Nyanaza. Illustrated with 19 chromolitho plates on nine sheets and in what may be a presentation binding, it sold at £16,000 as part of the Mitchell property at Forum Auctions – a considerable advance on the £2800 it made at Sotheby’s in 2015 as a lot from the Brooke-Hitching collections.

It was that of Frances Wolfreston (1607-77), a woman who came from the ordinary rungs of society, said Forum, but formed a substantial library that remained in family ownership until 1856, when most of it was sold at Sotheby’s. (Just a week later, in a Dominic Winter sale of April 6-7, a 1550 edition of William Langland’s The vision of Pierce plowman… from Wolfreston’s library was sold at a much higher than predicted £16,000.)

Morally superior

A 1691, first edition in English of The Morals of Confucius…, a little browned in a worn and re-backed period binding, made a considerably higher than expected £5500 at Forum.

In a much later polished calf gilt binding by Bumpus, a three-decker, 1813 first of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice had the half-title of Vol I supplied from a second edition and lacked that of the third volume, but it doubled expectations at £70,000.


This woodcut-illustrated leaf from Wynkyn de Worde’s 1498 edition of Jacobus de Voragine’s Legenda Aurea, in a translation by William Caxton, sold at £6000, but bid to £13,000 at Sotheby’s was a text only leaf from Caxton’s own, 1478 edition of Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.

A fine looking 1897 first, but later issue of Bram Stoker’s Dracula sold at £17,000 and among early 20th century successes, a scarce first English issue of PG Wodehouse’s The Prince and Betty of 1912, lacking a jacket and faded to the spine, made £3200.

Signed by John Le Carré on the title-page, a copy of the 1963 novel that established his reputation as a master of the espionage thriller, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, set a new high at £4200.

Old 78rpm records have rarely featured on these pages, but this sale saw £875 paid for one of c.1910 in which Ernest Shackleton recounts details of his Nimrod expedition to the Antarctic, while a speech made by the suffragist Dame Christabel Pankhurst shortly after her release from Holloway prison in 1908 reached £800.