Antiquarian Book Auction and Manuscript Sale Preview

Published 31st January 2013

Royalty is a theme running through the Antiquarian Book Sale, which will be held on Wednesday, 20th February 2013 at our salerooms in Honiton in East Devon.

A map of Wales by Jan Blaeu entitled 'Wallia Principatus Vulgo', which is being offered in the maps section of our antiquarian book auction in Devon at our Honiton salerooms in February 2013.

A map of Wales by Jan Blaeu entitled 'Wallia Principatus Vulgo', which is being offered in the maps section of our antiquarian book auction in Devon at our Honiton salerooms in February 2013.

There are two separate documents signed by the ill-fated Charles I (1600-1649), the only English king to be beheaded, following the bitter civil war between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists, which so divided Britain during the first half of the 17th century. One dated 11th November 1638 is addressed to the Archbishop of St Andrews and the Chancellor of Scotland, pressing him to relinquish his office as head of the church in Scotland in favour of the king's man. Bids in the region of £500 each are expected.

However, much rarer is a signed document by James I (1566-1625) the first of the Stuart monarchs, which relates to the Abbey of Iona, dated 12th November 1618. It is also an early 17th century reference to the cradle of Scottish Christianity. £1,000 should be the target price for this document.

There are also signed documents by George III, and George IV; but of greater significance is a three page proclamation, probably in the hand of and signed by James Francis Edward Stuart, "The Old Pretender", father of "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and pretender to the English, Scottish and Irish throne. In it he declares the absolute rights of the Stuarts to the crown over and above that of the reigning Hanoverians. It is dated 29th August 1714, just one year before the 1715 Jacobite Rising. This highly significant original manuscript should fetch £2,000.

Also associated with another important Jacobite uprising, that of 1745, are five contemporary and fascinating letters written by a solicitor living in Edinburgh during Bonnie Prince Charlie's six week occupation of the city. These unpublished letters, written anonymously no doubt for reasons of security should they be intercepted, describe in vivid detail the panic, dangers and the rumours that were rife. While the Prince's Highland army were in occupation amidst the general population of Edinburgh, the Hanoverian garrison remained waiting, impregnable in the castle above the city.

Other manuscripts, a particularly strong section in Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood's antiquarian book sales, are the official papers, personal notebooks, letters (etc) of the Bishop of Barbados (1789-1849). His 200 plus page notebook describes life in the West Indies in some detail in the early part of the 19th century. This lot also includes letters from Lord Bathurst and Gladstone; and bids in excess of £500 are expected.

Almost certainly the outstanding literary lot in this sale, among a small group of Coleridge association copies, is the family Bible of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. It is not a very special edition, printed in Cambridge in 1790, with its boards detached and much used by the family. Heavily annotated with genealogical notes, it bears the presentation inscription from Joseph Cottle to ST Coleridge and further inscriptions in the hand of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, including Given to me by Joseph Cottle after my marriage … ST Coleridge.

Cottle was Coleridge's publisher and friend. Coleridge alludes to Cottle as "a friend for whom I never received any advice that was not wise, or a remonstrance that was not gentle and affectionate." Now contained in a custom-made box, without the Coleridge association, this Bible would have little value. However, with this highly significant provenance £2,000-£3,000 should be a realistic value.

From a similar period is a rare early gothic novel by Charles Robert Maturin, "Melmoth the Wander", published in 1820, first edition in four volumes, complete with its advert pages and in a splendid contemporary half-calf binding, this classic tale of a wandering scholar, who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for an extra 150 years of life, is expected to sell at £2,000.

A First Edition of 'Melmoth the Wander', published in 1820, in four volumes which is in our February 2013 Antiquarian Book Auction.

A First Edition of 'Melmoth the Wander', published in 1820, in four volumes which is in our February 2013 Antiquarian Book Auction.

Fantasy continues with a first edition of one the greatest of all fantasy novels, HG Wells, "The War of the Worlds," published in 1898. It predicts the apocalyptic events of the World War, which was to follow some 16 years later. A little affected by damp and in its original pictorial grey cloth binding, albeit a little worn, it looks very affordable at £150-£200.

Other first editions of popular author's include Agatha Christie, "The Body In The Library". Arthur Ransome, PG Wodehouse, CS Lewis' Narnia stories and other Crime Club novels. Also a unique collection of works illustrated by Raymond Briggs (Snowman fame), including several signed Christmas cards. This could well be a lot worth laying down for the future.

Other subjects well represented in this sale are: private presses, including John Piper's Stowe finely illustrated with colour lithographs in a limited edition of 300 copies; natural history books, including W Beebe, "Monongraphs of the Pheasant", in four volumes, published in a limited edition of 600 copies in 1918; travel books, including a finely bound copy of WG Browne,"Travels in Africa, Egypt and Syria", 1799. Also a number of good clean box lots with something for everyone, particularly historical subjects and bibliography.

Again, an additional feature of this antiquarian book sale is a collection of very good antiquarian maps including some by Speed, Blaeu, Ogilby, Morden, Ortelius, Grenville Collins, Martyn, etc.

Finally, a carefully assembled collection of 19th century photographs mainly of the West Indies and the Yosemite, etc. Well presented in a large contemporary album, bids in the region of £600 should secure this lot.


  • Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood
  • Antiquarian Book Auctions
  • Books, Manuscripts, Prints and Maps
  • Charles I (1600-1649)
  • James 1 (1566-1625)
  • George III
  • George IV
  • Bishop of Barbados (1789-1849)
  • Lord Bathurst
  • Gladstone
  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge
  • Charles Maturin
  • HG Wells
  • Agatha Christie
  • Arthur Ransome
  • PG Wodehouse
  • CS Lewis
  • Crime Club
  • Raymond Briggs
  • W Beebe
  • WG Browne

Subscribe to catalogue alerts & news

Select your interests