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Antiquarian Books, Maps and Prints Sale

Roger Collicott previews the totally online Autumn 2021 Antiquarian Books, Maps and Prints Sale, which has an impressive array of books on offer as well as ephemera related to the Suffragettes. The sale is set to take place over two days.

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, illustrated by Arthur Rackham (BK25/96).

Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, illustrated by Arthur Rackham (BK25/96).

Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood will be offering some 831 lots online over two days on 7th/8th December 2021 in the Antiquarian Books, Maps and Prints Auction, consisting largely of books from four private collections.

Starting with a collection of books illustrated by probably the finest exponent of the book illustrators art, Arthur Rackham. Working primarily during the first half of the 20th Century. The auction offers seventeen lots of books illustrated by him, including a Midsummer Night's Dream (BK25/93) 1908 (£100-150) and the rather terrifying Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery & Imagination (BK25/88), 1935 (£100-175), which still has it's original dust wrapper. Probably the most sought after is a fine limited edition of Goblin Market written by Christina Rossetti (BK25/96), published in 1933 and still in it's vellum slipcase. Limited to 410, this rare signed limited edition is offered at £350-450.

Several other important book illustrators are generously represented in this sale. William Pogany, the wonderful William Heath Robinson, Hugh Thomson and Edmund Dulac. Dulac's illustrations to the Rubiyat of Omar Khayyam is one of the high points of illustrated books (BK25/58), published in 1909, limited to 750 signed copies, bound in fine full pictorial gilt vellum, the condition is so good that even after well over 100 years it still retains it's silk ribbon ties in immaculate order. It is expected to sell at £750-£1,000.

Of great rarity is the eight volume fully illustrated catalogue for the Great Exhibition of 1851. It consists of "Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations" (BK25/17): "Reports by the Juries" in four volumes; "Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue" in three volumes and "First Report of the Commissioners for the Great Exhibition" in one volume. Bound in sumptuous full crimson morocco by Riviere in 1851, all eight volumes are presentation copies to the four times prime minister, and arguably the most important politician of the nineteenth century, The Right Hon William Ewart Gladstone, who was a commissioner for the Exhibition. With this immaculate provenance, the eight large folio volumes are valued at £3,000-£5,000.

There is another large section of early printed books in the sale, not least of which are 25 lots of pre-1800 Bibles, six of which are pre-1599. One of the high points of the sale is dated 1599-1600 and is a rarity by the early travel and exploration writer Richard Hakluyt with the impressive title "The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation" (BK25/565). Bound as three volumes in two, these folio volumes are bound in full contemporary calf. An enormous work, it is the most complete collection of voyages and discoveries and nautical achievements by the Elizabethans. Hakluyt met many of the great navigators and explorers of the day: Frobisher, Drake, Raleigh, Gilbert and others, etc. Corresponding with Orteilius and Mercator, he collected massive amounts of data on voyages. The work still has the rare world map, so often missing. It is valued at £3,000 to £5,000.

Collectors interested in Far East military campaigns will be delighted by a one off Japanese photograph and watercolour album (BK25/803). Circa 1860s, this early collection of photographs relates to the bombardment of Kagoshima, also known as the Anglo-Satsuma War.

It includes a panoramic view of the Straits showing part of the Allied fleet at anchor in the bay just two days before the attack on Kagoshima. Another evocative image taken by the photographer Felice Beato shows the interior of a captured Chosu battery at Simonosaki, occupied by a British naval brigade before its destruction and dismantling of its guns.

There are photographs of temples, Samurai, various trades and itinerants. However, it is the watercolours that are the most stunning. A number are executed by Edward A Birch - one of the crew? One painted from the waterside depicts the destruction of the city of Kagoshima on the night of 15th August 1863. There are several others by Birch, including a panoramic view of Macao on the Canton River and one of Hong Kong Harbour taken from Victoria Peak.

The 'star' items of this remarkable collection is almost certainly a magnificent Japanese painting on silk of a palace and grounds in the city of Yeddo. In a naive hand are thirty-four paintings of local trades, and many more on a variety of subjects, many painted on crepe. The collection is completed with a large size photograph of Tibetan monks by Beato. Modestly priced at £3,000-£5,000, this item is bound to create considerable interest.

Part two of the sale starts off with the Derek Giles collection of Cornish related books (the third collection on this subject to be offered for sale by Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood in recent times). Borlase, Carew, Blight, Henderson, Pryce are all represented. So is the book containing the legendary collection of hand coloured prints of mineral samples by Philip Rashleigh: "Specimens of British Minerals" (BK25/506) 1797-1802.

Philip Rashleigh (1729-1811) formed what must be the finest collections of Cornish minerals ever made. This catalogue, containing the 54 hand coloured plates, are highly prized by the mineral collector as well as the collector of Cornish books. The collection was housed in the 16th century ancestral home, called Menabilly, before being presented to the Royal Institution of Cornwall in 1902, at the County Museum in Truro, where it is to this day. Today, the book is expected to sell for between £3,000-£4,000.

For lovers of nature and the countryside, there is offered an extensive collection of books written and illustrated by Denys J Watkins Pitchford, or as he is more affection ally known, 'BB'. A most talented story teller on paper, he illustrated many books on country subjects with his distinctive use of scraperboard illustrations. His work can be divided into three separate categories: Countryside; Sporting and Fishing; and Children's books. There are fifty-five books split into eleven lots. There are several quite scarce titles among the collection, such as "Confessions of a Carp Fisher" (1950) (BK25/640).

There is one book which originated from BB's own library and signed by him on the title-page: "Recollections of a Longshore Gunner" (1976) (BK25/637). This is expected to sell at a little over £100. As with all the books in this section they are in excellent condition, which will help create a lot of interest.

There are also collections by other writers on the countryside such as AG Street, William Hudson, Richard Jefferies, and a large collection of books by Henry Williamson, inclduing several signed limited editions.

Near the end of the sale is an unusual collection of signed letters, photos, and ephemera relating to the Suffragettes (BK25/830) being:

  1. Nancy Astor (1870-1964) her photograph and signature. Although not a suffragette, she was the first woman member of Parliament.
  2. Millicent Garrett Fawcett (1847-1929). Her full signature, dated and position in the movement, "Millicent Garrett Fawcett, President of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies, June 13, 08".
  3. Henry Fawcett (1833-1884), autographed letter to Octavia Hill. Fawcett was a radical PM Supporter of JS Mill's women's suffrage Amendment.
  4. Emily Davies (1830-1921), 4 page ALS dated 30th August 1918. She was secretary of the first women's suffrage committee and Chairman of the London Society for Women's Suffrage.
  5. Charlotte Despard (1834-1939). Autograph signed, dated 7th March 1911. She was a vocal supporter of the SDF and ILP. In 1906, she joined the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and was twice imprisoned in Holloway jail.
  6. Sarah Grand (1854-1943). 2 page ALS, dated 2nd November 1912. She apologises for not being able to attend a lecture, as she had a committee meeting of the local branch of the NUWSS. She was in one of the leaders coaches in the Hyde Park demonstrations.
  7. FW Pethwick-Lawrence (1871-1961). Signed note on headed paper. He was a Labour politician and leading supporter of Woman's Suffrage. Joint editor of 'Votes for Women' 1907-14. Charged in 1912 at the Old Bailey with his wife Emmaline and Mrs Pankhurst with conspiracy, he was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment.
  8. Dame Ethel Smyth (1858-1944). Cut signature. Female composer, she gave up music for two years to devote herself to the cause of Women's Suffrage.
  9. Suffragette Poem in four manuscript verses with two humorous sketches, devoted to Christabel Pankhurst, date 22 April 1914, G Carter. "But unlike the Maid of Orleans who got captured in the fray, Christabel knew how to fight and also how run away." This rare collection of contemporary documents, etc, is expected to sell for £750-£1,000.

Also among books on a wide range of subjects and interests, it is worth mentioning that there are a number of large prints of Exeter, several of some scarcity.


  • Bearnes Hampton & Littlewood
  • Antiquarian Book Auctions

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