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Books and Manuscripts

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood are one of the few auction houses in the West Country to have a bespoke book department and hold two high profile specialist Antiquarian Book Auctions a year, one in the Spring, one in the Autumn.

Recent successes of the department include an illustrated manuscript Koran (BK14/101), which sold for £230,000 and a Catalogue of Specimens of cloth from Captain Cook's Voyages (BK5/334), which sold for £113,000.

Every Antiquarian Book Auction is available to view at the auction rooms, in the glossy printed catalogue and online as well as on the online bidding platform that allows buyers from all over the world to view and bid for lots during the auction, which helps us to secure some of the world record prices achieved.

Books are a complex field, where age is not necessarily an indication of value. Scarcity, a strong demand for the author or subject and condition are the main indications of value, but there are of course exceptions to this.

The Books and Manuscripts Department has very successfully sold several single owner collections of antiquarian books over the years, with the most recent being the Harold Bowden Collection of Cornish Books. With expert knowledge, an extensive database of buyers and professional marketing, the book department can handle consignments ranging from one book to several thousand books.

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood's dedicated specialist Books and Manuscripts Department is always happy to help, so if you are in doubt about the value of any printed material, whether it's books, ephemera, broadsides, prints, maps, photographs, albums, optical toys and manuscripts, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Roger Collicott for a swift and accurate appraisal of your property.

News and Articles

Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens (BK17/95) by Arthur Rackham is offered in our Books, Maps and Prints Auction starting on 15th March 2017 at our salerooms in Exeter, Devon. Rachel Littlewood previews the extensive offering of books for auction in the March 2017 Antiquarian Book Auction, which includes a large collection of Cornish books and a fascinating collection of material from the World War II Archive of Noel Melville Richard OBE LVO, Head of the Photographic and Reproductions Branch of the Air Ministry.
Eight volumes of the first edition of George Eliot's 'Middlemarch' fetched £15,000 in our Book Sale on the 26th August 2015 (BK14/92). Richard Bearne discusses serialisaton in newspapers as a popular publishing format, looking back to famous works such as Charles Dicken's 'The Pickwick Paper's and George Eliot's 'Middlemarch' that first appeared in this fashion.
A set of Enid Bliyton Books. Richard Bearne not only writes about First Editions and what can make them very valuable, but also reflects on how they can give further insight into the author's lives.

Valuation Appointments

The Books and Manuscripts Department can arrange to visit you whether you are looking to sell your rare books, manuscripts, maps and prints or would like an insurance valuation.


Roger CollicottRoger Collicott
Rare Book Expert

Book, Map, Print and Manuscript Categories