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Incorporating books, pamphlets, letters and official documents, these 140 lots did not produce the day’s highest bids, but proved an unusual and appealing inclusion.

A military commission on vellum was one of the more expensive lots at £900. Appointing Edward Wood as adjutant general of foot to all companies under his command in 1644, it was signed by Sir William Waller, a major general in the Parliamentary forces who was involved in various military engagements in the West Country.

A manuscript of 20ll comprising extracts from Waller’s ‘Apologeticall History’, or ‘Vindication’, a work that was not printed and published until 1793, sold at £950.

Bid to £580 was a nicely bound copy of England’s Complaint: or a Sharp Reproof… but more especially to the Inhabitants of the County of Suffolk… of 1648. This was one of the works of Royalist clergyman, Lionel Gatford, who was more than once imprisoned and also spent many years in exile. Gatford here calls on the men of Suffolk to help the Royalist garrison at Colchester, who were holding out against the New Model Army.

Other successful lots included, at £450, Sir Thomas May’s Arbitrary Government Display’d: in the Tyrannick Usurpation of the Rump Parliament, and Oliver Cromwell… of 1683, in rebacked contemporary calf.

Birds and beasts

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A ‘Duckbill Platypus’ from the Book of Birds and Beasts… sold for £1150 in the Devon sale.

The duck-billed platypus would have been one of the less familiar creatures featured among the 48 coloured plates that illustrate Mary Belson Elliott’s Book of Birds and Beasts…, a Darton publication of c.1826.

The book sold for a record £1150 in the Exeter sale as part of a juvenilia section that also included a woodcut illustrated, 1768 Newbury & Carnan edition of …Little Goody Two-Shoes in worn Dutch floral boards, at £1250.

The same sum was bid for a peepshow of the first German railway line – a track that ran 6km between Nuremburg and Furth.

Published by Renner & Abel of Nuremburg in 1835, The First Railroad in Germany… was a seven-section, concertina-style peepshow, complete in its paper slipcase.

Running to over 60 loose pages, a manuscript ‘school book’ dated by the saleroom to the mid-18th century sold at £2100. It included sections on geography, arithmetic, astronomy and other subjects that are enlivened with decorative page headings, sometimes heightened in colour.

A photographic portrait of Charles Darwin by Messrs Maull & Polyblank, who had a London studio, was valued at just £200-300 in the Exeter sale but realised £5200. The portrait was created in 1855, four years before the publication of On the Origin of Species.

The 36 mounted photographs, or Woodburytypes, that illustrate John Thomson & Adolphe Smith’s Street Life in London of 1877-78 prompted a bid of £2100.

Lacking the title page, this was an ex-library copy in a much more recent and utilitarian green cloth binding rather than the pictorial green and gilt cloth in which Sampson Low’s original, monthly publication first appeared in bound form.

Four years ago Dominic Winter sold a copy for £10,500, a record that still stands for this scarce work.

Though exhibiting crease marks where it had been many times folded, an outline coloured double hemisphere world map of 1785 by Richard Marshall, one with much additional celestial content, was sold for a 10-times-estimate £2600 as part of the map and print section of the sale.