The front cover of the November 1917, first re-launch issue of Hydra, the Magazine of Craiglockhart War Hospital, sold at £7500 by Lyon & Turnbull.

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It was on offer from Lyon & Turnbull (26/25/20% buyer’s premium) in the Scottish capital on February 8.

On the upper pictorial wrapper, designed by Adrian Berrington, is depicted a scarred battlefield scene in which, as the outline figures of two nurses stand, or hover nearby, a fearsome hydra attacks a soldier who has been blown into the air by an exploding bomb.

The hospital opened in 1916 as a military psychiatric hospital to look after officers suffering from the psychological effects of the First World War.

Wilfred Owen, a patient, had been editor of the magazine for a few months prior to its relaunch with this issue, during which time he oversaw the first ever (but anonymous) appearance in print of any of his own verses – Song of Songs and The Next War – alongside some of the poems of Siegfried Sassoon, another patient.

From its re-launch in May of that year, Hydra... had been issued under the editorial guidance of the journalist and minor war poet, JB Salmond.

Chaucer high

The Edinburgh sale’s highest bid was registered by a fine example of the 1896, Kelmscott edition of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer.

One of 250 copies on paper of that famous private press work, it made £48,000.

Bid to £42,000 was one of 32 “incomplete” copies of TE Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom from the full edition of just 211 issued in 1926.

Though they do not have the full tally of plates, these copies are in fact of greater interest to collectors as many were given and inscribed, as this one was, to those who had served with and been involved in Lawrence’s wartime activities during the Arab Revolt of 1916-18.

Accompanied by a letter signed “yours ever, T.E.Shaw (used to be Lawrence)” this one was sent to Harry Goldie. “You, having been one of us, get (if you want it) a gratis copy of the text of the subscribers’ edition”, its author had written of the copy in the Scottish sale.

Though lacking around half of the illustrations to be found in the complete work, it was in the original half morocco binding and it came with letters and other ephemera that added even more to its already very special appeal.

Sold at £16,000 at L&T was a document certifying the marriage of William Compton and Anne Bottalin on board HMS Foudroyant in the Bay of Naples in July 1799.

Just a single sheet of paper, but one that among its 10 witness signatures featured those of Sir William and Lady Emma Hamilton, Horatio Nelson, and Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy.