The £80,000 sale of an archive of papers and correspondence of David Ormsby Gore, 5th Lord Harlech, who had hoped to marry the widowed Jacqueline Kennedy, was one of the more instantly newsworthy items. However, it preceded the dispersal of an impressive selection of 200 lots from the library, The emphasis was very much on early printed books, among them two rare Elizabethan satires, John Marston’s The Scourge of Villanie and Samuel Rowland’s The Letting of Humours Blood in the Head-vaine…, which made £12,000.
My choice for this issue, however, is the volume, a 1567 first of John Jewel’s A Defence of the Apologie of the Churche of Englande… that boasts a handsome and contemporary English binding of calf gilt that includes small oval portraits of Plato, Cato, Xenocrates and Cicero.
The binding has been identified as the work of a craftsman long known only, and somewhat inaccurately given the materials used on his other recorded work, as ‘The Morocco Binder’.
His clients included archbishops Parker and Whitgift, Robert Dudley, the earls of Warwick and Arundel and even Queen Elizabeth I.
That last-mentioned work, however, is thought to have been lost during the bombing of Dresden in 1945, according to Howard Nixon’s Five Centuries of English Bookbinding.
Somewhat rubbed and showing restoration to the spine and corners, Jewel’s book was valued at £1500-2500, but sold instead for £14,000.