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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

A five volume Memorial Edition Set of Thomas Bewick's Works (BK21/241), offered
                        in our Antiquarian Book Auction starting on 6th March 2019 at our salerooms in Exeter, Devon. Rachel Littlewood previews the first Antiquarian Book Auction Sale of 2019, which has something to suit everyone's interests with all the usual categories represented.
A rare photograph of Charles Darwin (BK18/336) fetched £5,200. Rachel Littlewood reviews a buoyant auction of books, prints, maps and photographs that saw some excellent results, including £5,200 for a rare photograph of Charles Darwin.
One of the highlights of the Summer 2017 Antiquarian Book Auction in Exeter is 'An Embassy From the East-India Company of the United Provinces, To the Grand Tartar Cham Emperour of China' by John Nieuhoff (BK18/494). Rachel Littlewood previews the Summer 2017 Antiquarian Book Sale, which includes an important single owner collection of books and manuscripts contemporary with the English Civil War. This auction of rare books and manuscripts in Exeter and over the Internet promises to be an exciting sale.

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