Voewood Rare Books sold this bible with a rare 18th century binding by Thomas Sedgley, which was offered for £37,500 at Firsts.

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The volume was bound by Thomas Sedgley (1684-1761), one of the leaders in his field, and lavishly decorated in mosaic style with red, green and black Morocco onlays forming strapwork designs, and a profusion of roll designs. Several of the decorative devices are distinct to Sedgley, such as the inclusion of a tiny gargoyle face hidden within the decorative work.

Few examples of such mosaic bindings survive, particularly on this scale. The bible went to a dealer buying on behalf of a collector. It was offered for £37,500 by Voewood Rare Books.

The fair ran from May 16-19 at Saatchi Gallery, London, and hosted more than 100 exhibitors including York Modern Books, Bernard Quaritch, Marlborough Rare Books and Maggs Bros.

Art of the matter

Focusing on ‘the art of the book’, this staging highlighted elaborate examples of illumination, illustration and binding, as in the example above. On a similar theme, Voewood also won the prize for best object at the fair, an original Sgt Pepper artwork, ultimately unused, which Ringo Starr gave to his manager.

Sales started strong - Daniel Crouch, for example, completed six transactions in the opening evening - and continued well, with the final take for the whole fair estimated at about £5m. Visitor numbers were marginally down for this edition, possibly due to the introduction of paid ticketing on the Saturday or, the foe of all spring fairs, early days of good weather.

Other highlight sales included a first Latin edition of the collection of modern global voyages by Francanzano da Montalboddo, 1508, which Peter Harrington offered for £450,000. This work sold to a customer who saw it on opening night and returned the next day to make a purchase. Tom Lintern-Mole of Antiquates had to rearrange his shelves several times on a busy opening, which included the sale of a needle-work sample book commemorating Queen Victoria’s first trip to Ireland as monarch at £25,000 (see ATG No 2644).

Lucius Books parted with around 20 items, including an illustrated manuscript of an 1827 poem by Thomas Hood about Queen Mab and her fairies who are rescued by William Shakespeare.


Thomas Hood’s Plea of the Midsummer Fairies, illustrated by Edith Mendham, was sold to a private collector at Firsts from the stand of Lucius Books where it was offered for a five-figure sum.

It was illustrated by the little-known Edith Mendham (fl.1888-1911) and went to a private customer for a low five-figure sum. From the same stand went a hand-painted vellucent (transparent vellum) binding by Jessie M King, one of the Glasgow Girls, for Cedric Chivers, which also took a five-figure sum.