John Rocque’s great, 24-sheet Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster…, a second edition of c.1749, was the best-seller at Forum Auctions, selling at £47,000.

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Brought up in Bath and first inspired by architectural studies during a family visit to northern Italy, Derek Gibson (1936-2021) – who instead went on to become an eminent cardiologist – was also a musician, collector, traveller and authority on all sorts of subjects, from early engineering to Biggles.

Always wanting to find out everything he could about any new enthusiasm, he lined the walls of two flats, along with the cellar of one of them, with bookshelves and books.

“Not for him Google. He was surrounded by all he needed to know…,” said the auction house Forum (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium) of south London, which offered a Part 1 selection of works from Gibson’s library on October 20 (a selection of highlights is shown here).

First and only edition


Seen here are the handsome, now rebacked contemporary mottled calf binding bearing the arms of Louis XIV of a copy of the first and only edition of Jules Hardouin-Mansart’s L’Eglise des Invalides of c.1680, overlain by one of the work’s 14 etched and engraved plates and plans, four of them double-page and eight folding. They illustrate sections of the chapel and were used to calculate estimates of the materials needed for its construction, which was completed in 1691. It sold for £6000 at Forum.

Foundation work of Protestantism


The panelled calf binding, now lacking the brass clasps to the lower cover and rebacked to preserve the original, compartmented backstrip, of a 1475, second Venetian edition of St Augustine’s De civitate dei – a work which both Luther and Calvin determined to be a foundation work of Protestantism. Once part of Joost Ritman’s ‘Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica’, it sold for £13,000 at Forum.

Comic comment on fashion fads


Sold for £5500 at Forum was a scrap album of c.1828 that contained some 60 caricatures by William Heath and others. Seen here is a comic comment on fashion fads by William Heath, ‘A Correct View of the New Machine for Winding Up the Ladies’.

Repton's landscape design


A spread from a 1794 first (in a modern binding) of Humphrey Repton’s Sketches and Hints on Landscape Gardening… which made £12,000 at Forum Auctions.

Soane house and museum in one


Dating from 1830, and illustrated with engraved and lithographed plates and plans, one of the first edition copies of Sir John Soane’s Description of the House and Museum on the North Side of Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields that were privately printed for presentation sold for £5500 at Forum Auctions. It was inscribed for Sir Charles Flint, Private Secretary to the Duke of Wellington and Under Secretary of State for Ireland.

Cartographic masterpiece


Billed as an 18th century cartographic masterpiece, Joseph Daniel von Huber’s 24-part, bird’s-eye perspective plan of Vienna – one whose richly inked impressions lend the image a three-dimensional feel – was completed in 1778. It took £12,000 at Forum.