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Containing in this instance extra manuscript and illustrative material, this was the work in which Owen laid down the principles that had guided his famous ‘Lanark Experiment’.

This ‘experiment’ comprised the application of co-operative and educational measures that improved the living and working conditions at his Scottish cotton mills.

Dramatic impact

An 1840 playbill for forthcoming attractions promised on one May evening at the Theatre-Royal in Worcester promises two dramatic productions, ‘Adrian & Orilla, or, a Mother’s Vengeance’ and ‘Warlock of the Glen’, a melodrama based on the writings of Walter Scott.

During the course of the evening various singing and dancing acts were also promised, among them “The celebrated COMIC DANCE of the three Jim Crows” pictured on the playbill.

It was one of a bound collection of some 135 broadside playbills, mostly dating from the years 1839-40, issued for performances in Wolverhampton, Coventry and Shrewsbury, as well as Worcester, among them performances of Hamlet, The Merry Wives of Windsor and School for Scandal.

Showing some spotting, dust soiling and fraying, the playbills were estimated at £150-200 but sold at £3000.

Also making rather more than expected – £5000 not £500 – was a bound volume of the 52 issues of The Royal Gazette, Jamaica published in the year 1788.

With most issues running to around 20pp, they offer a fascinating and detailed picture of life, commerce and events on the island.

South Cerney on the map

Cartographic highlights from the sizeable selection in the South Cerney sale included an example in full contemporary colour of the largest and only folding map in Saxton’s pioneering atlas of England’s counties of 1570 – that of Cornwall.

Trimmed to the neatline but with margins professionally extended, it sold at £4600.

The literary find of the sale was a very rare 1886, first English edition of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, which as noted in a preview in ATG No 2285, was found by the vendor in a job lot of books acquired elsewhere at auction for £14.

Generally accepted to be a translation by a Russian-born but British nationalised novelist, Frederick Wishaw, it was also published in the USA in the same year, but no priority has been established.

Only one copy of either version has previously been seen at auction – and that 25 years ago. This real rarity sold at £13,500.