Two very different cartographic lots were offered in a June 6 sale held in Exeter by Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood (25% buyer’s premium).
It was the 2ft 6in (77cm) wide New and Accurate Chart of Bombay Harbor…, described as “…Draw[n] from the Latest Authorities for William Heather”, that produced one of the day’s bigger surprises.
This rare map from British India, oriented with east at the top, combines highly detailed practical information, such as depth soundings, indications of sand bars, and notations on lines of sight to landmarks, as well as several views of the coast and Bombay Fort as seen from the sea.
The mainland, labelled ‘The Continent’, has the statement: “This Coast is not frequented by Europeans.”
The chart was first published by Heather in 1803 and then revised by John William Norie in 1815, 1820 and again in 1830.
All versions are scarce and this uncoloured 1830 copy, later mounted on blue paper and rolled, showing some creases and light soiling, sold for £3000 against an estimate of £100-200.
John William Norie (1772-1843) was a mathematician, hydrographer and specialist publisher of nautical books and charts.
When the instrument and map seller William Heather died in 1813, Norie bought his business and traded from premises known as the Navigation Warehouse. It featured in Charles Dickens’ Dombey and Son.
Dated to 1768 and billed as “hand painted on parchment”, the plan of that part of Crackpot Farm… commonly known as the High Pasture, situated in the Manor of Healaugh in Swaledale in the County of York also showed the effects of having being rolled up, but it sold at £500, five times the low estimate.
Views in India from drawings taken during the Sepoy Mutiny, a work by a Captain D Sarsfield Green of the Royal Artillery, came in a broken but “worthy of restoration” binding and boasted 22 large tinted litho plates, each with its own letterpress description.
No date was noted by the saleroom, but other sources suggest that some copies at least may date from the years 1857-58 (the Mutiny began in 1857). It sold at £4200.
Literary lots that brought notably higher than predicted sums in Exeter included an immaculate copy of the 1892 Kelmscott edition of William Morris’ A Dream of John Ball and A King’s Lesson. In its flexible vellum binding it made £3500.
Sold at £800 was an 1836 first of The Birth-Day Party: a Poem, in three parts… by Caroline Bowles. In a contemporary binding of diced calf, now lacking its label, it was a copy extra-illustrated with pen sketches that were thought by the saleroom to be in the hand of the author.
An 1816 catalogue of Ebers’ British and Foreign Circulating Library was another lot that sold well over estimate, at £1600.