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Red Hot Demand for Browning Archive...

9th September 2020

Lawrences’ auction of books and manuscripts on September 8th comprised over 360 lots of great variety: from a 1540’s volume by Giosafat Barbaro of Venice to a first edition of A. A. Milne’s `Winnie the Pooh`.

Anthony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723), known as `The Father of Microbiology`, was instrumental in the development of lenses and microscopes and his `Opera Omnia..` with 114 impressively engraved plates made £2375. A beautifully presented Kelmscott Press printing of `The Tale of Beowulf`, translated by William Morris, was issued in an edition of just 300 copies in 1895 and sold within expectations at £4250. The most famous work of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (`Lewis Carroll`) was `Through the Looking-Glass` and a first issue of the first edition, coupled with `What Alice Found There` soared above hopes of £300 to make £3750 whilst Bryant’s `Map of the County of Hertford` from 1822 also performed well, taking £1375.

The magnum opus of the celebrated Scottish economist and social theorist Adam Smith, `An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations` was published in 1778. “These two modest volumes expounded remarkably forward-thinking ideas about the role of work in determining a country’s wealth,” explains the firm’s Managing Director, Helen Carless. “This second edition of just 500 copies came from the collection of a Dorset gentleman and we were pleased to see that considerable pre-sale interest from dealers and collectors was likely to yield a strong price. In the midst of the current economic recession, the measured wisdom of Adam Smith clearly retains a great significance.” The books doubled expectations of £7000-9000 to make £17500.

Great attention focused upon an archive of pictures, books  and manuscripts from the family of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning. Prices were strong throughout. Robert Browning’s `The Greek Christian Poets and the English Poets` took £2375, more than ten times expectations; a pair of portrait miniatures ascribed to Charles Robertson, c.1790, made £1750 and an album of 120 family portrait photographs, apparently captioned by Robert Browning himself, made £6750. An informal pencil sketch of Elizabeth Barrett Browning from 1845, ascribed to Alfred Price Moulton-Barrett (1820-1904), belied its simple lines by making the astounding price of £5750. The selection, and indeed the sale, was led by a collection of manuscript poems by Elizabeth and included drafts of `The Enchantress`, `The Young Thucydides` and other works. Against hopes of £7000, this lot made £32500 and the collection added over £60000 to the £182,000 sale total.

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