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A Rare Broadside and Survival

20th March 2019

Lawrences’ 550-lot auction of books, maps, manuscripts and photography recorded some remarkable results, with a steady demand in evidence throughout.

Somerset-born William Dampier’s `A Collection of Voyages` dated from 1729 and made £3,250; G. B. Belzoni’s rare `Narrative of.. Discoveries in Egypt and Nubia` (1822) made £4,750 and a first edition of C. S. Lewis’s `Prince Caspian, The Return to Narnia` (1951), sold with `The Silver Chair` (1953), reached £2,125. William Curtis’s near-complete run of `The Botanical Magazine` comprised 9669 out of the 9687 superb hand-coloured lithographed plates and made £15,625; the other major botanical work in the sale was by Maria Sibylle Merian: this dated from 1730 and was bought for £12,500. Two lots of playing cards from c.1780 were bid to a total of £2,125. Sir Winston Churchill’s `The World Crisis 1911-1918` in five volumes was a presentation copy from the author to Philip Sassoon and was given by King George VI  to his private secretary, Sir Alan Lascelles (from whose library Lawrences offered nine lots). This Churchill lot made £6,875, double expectations and the other eight lots from the Lascelles library made just under £6,000.

Four very unusual lots deserve special mention. An anonymous manuscript ballad from 1850, on seven sheets with five further leaves, was scarce enough to make £4,000. Philip H Delamotte and Joseph Cundall’s `Photographic Tour among the Abbeys of Yorkshire..` contained 23 albumen photographs from 1856, dating from not long after the invention of photography itself. This lot made £5,000 and was almost matched by the £4,250 paid for a lot of eleven photographs of China from c.1870, by R. Shannon & Co. Lastly, a very rare broadside (single printed sheet) entitled `The Beginning, Progress and End of Man` was of unusual design and dated from c.1688-1689.  Believed to be unique for being in colour and comparable with only two others in the British Library and the Bodleian Library in Oxford, this rather worn but intriguing remnant from the era of the Restoration showed the strength of demand for extreme rarity and, to the delight of the vendor who had delivered it to Lawrences within a sketchbook unaware of its potential, this carefully-catalogued curiosity was bought for £9,500.

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5 stars

“Congratulations on what looked like a very successful sale ! You never mentioned that you did the auctioneering as well ... talk about doing the whole job ... see it into the building, find out what it is, decide if it’s for the Fine Art sale or the General Sale, lot it and describe it accordingly, and then sell it ... that really does count as seeing the job through from start to finish! Whilst the job isn’t over yet, it really is a case of so far, so good ... some items have sold for sums that exceeded our expectations, with one item in particular fetching a truly remarkable sum, so we’re very happy indeed... we’ve noted how accurate the guide prices are ... and how gratifying it is when the bidding goes sailing past the guide ! I found the whole week to be both gripping entertainment and pleasingly rewarding financially. Please accept my sincerest congratulations for a job well done, and we’ll look forward to the October and November Sales with bated breath ...”

Andrew P

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