Sold for £48,000 at Chiswick Auctions (25/12% buyer’s premium) on March 16, this example in the original vellum gilt binding by Sangorski & Sutcliffe was the 500th and last copy of that edition.
As well as the standard 58 wood-engraved plates, it featured 82 original pencil drawings, among them rejected designs for its illustrations, bound in at the end.
There was some browning and foxing to a few pages, but this very special copy was also accompanied by a separate box containing some 300 other examples of the engravings in various states.
Napoleon funeral procession
Bid to £10,000 in the west London sale was an 1821 watercolour sketch by Emeric Essex Vidal, an English naval officer and artist, which depicts the original funeral procession of Napoleon on St Helena. Bonaparte’s body was much later returned to France for a state funeral.
The watercolour sold in London was one specially made by Vidal for John Wilson Croker, an Irish-born lawyer, statesman, writer and collector with a special interest in the French Revolution. A large number of valuable documents that Croker acquired are now in the British Museum collections.