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There were 35 lots from William Foyle’s library – not re-offers of things unsold at King Street last summer, but items that had somehow escaped the initial clearance – and a further selection of books from the extraordinarily wide ranging holdings of the former Benedictine monastery of Fort Augustus in Inverness-shire.

The monastery was closed in 1999 and the Glasgow firm of Robert McTear held two sales to dispose of what I took to be the entire collection, but it seems that some books had already been moved out and the 120 ex-Fort Augustus lots offered in London came, I believe, from a Cambridge source.

Whatever the reason for their late turnout, these books in their contemporary vellum and old calf bindings certainly looked special and greatly appealed to those who came to view and bid.

Just a few highlights from the Foyle collection and one or two lots from the remaining portion of the sale, are illustrated here (for illustrations of other lots in the sale, please see related articles below), but I have room yet for one more lot from each principal property.

The Fort Augustus copy of Henri Estienne’s greatest achievement, the six-volume Thesaurus Graecae linguae... of 1572, was uniformly bound in 18th century mottled calf with three other books from the presses of Henri or Robert Estienne – a 1548 edition of Bude’s Commentarii linguae Gracae, Thucydides’ De Bello Peloponnesiaco (1564) and Herodotus’ Historia (1570) – and together they brought a bid of £7500 from Quaritch.

An ex-Beeleigh Abbey copy of Foxe’s Actes and Monuments... [Book of Martyrs], a defective 1563 edition in wormed and repaired contemporary blind-stamped calf, went to Lachman at £6000 – a sum that was 20 times the estimate.

The original red pictorial cloth binding of an 1871, first edition, first state copy of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass was in a sorry state, but the book was inscribed in purple ink as a Christmas gift to Alice Catherine Tyrwhitt, the daughter of an Oxford neighbour, and it sold at £4000 to Vintage Properties of Chicago.

Top right: sold for £27,000 to a private buyer at South Kensington was one of the 425 paper copies of the Kelmscott masterpiece, the 1896 Chaucer with its woodcut illustrations by W.H. Hooper after Edward Burne-Jones and borders and initials after William Morris himself. The original cloth-backed boards of this copy were a little rubbed and stained.

Middle right: one of 112 engraved plates after G.B. Piranesi from an incomplete copy of Vasi,. Candelabri, Cippi, Sarcofagi, Trpodi..., 1778, which made £14,000 (Toscani).

Bottom right: the contemporary black morocco gilt and red onlaid binding of William Foyle’s copy of Audsley’s two-volume Ornamental Arts of Japan, 1882-85, which sold at £1900 (Haslam & Whiteway).

Christie’s South Kensington, London,
February 16
No of lots: 266
Lots sold: 236
Sale total: £306,900 incl.
Buyer’s premium: 17.5/10 per cent