It was valued at just £200-250 but sold on the day to a German bidder for £25,000.
This first English translation by Thomas Shelton of Cervantes’ masterpiece as The History of the Valorous and Wittie Knight-Errant is an exceptional rarity.
Only two other copies appear in auction records in the last 40 years or more. In 1985, when Sotheby’s New York sold the fine library of the lyricist Paul Francis Webster, his copy in a 17th century binding of speckled calf which is believed to be one only 17 known copies, sold at $11,000 (then £9015).
The other example, offered in Sotheby’s London rooms in 1976, did include the second part of 1621, but the title was a pen facsimile and that trimmed and re-marginned copy in a modern binding harbouring a number of other defects. It sold at just £650.
The Aylsham copy was in an old binding of blind-stamped calf, rebacked to incorporate a large part of the original spine.
The buyer's premium was 20%.