On October 11, at Lyon & Turnbull (25/20% buyer’s premium) in Edinburgh, a lot estimated at £200-300 was headed ‘Pattern & Decoration, 5 books’.
My understanding is that it was the first item that was the key, a group of 14 sheets, laid down on card and showing some loss, that led to the lot being contested to a much more substantial £16,000.
One of them (above), showing designs for ‘bookbinding, engraving and stamping tools’, was issued by ‘R.Scott, late Brook & Co’ of The Strand, London.
The many goods and printing services that it provided, according to two trade cards I found in the British Museum holdings, enjoyed the patronage of ‘His Majesty, their Royal Highnesses the Prince Regent, Dukes of York, Kent’.
This presumably refers to George III, George IV as Regent and the future William IV, which suggests that this sheet at least dates from the early decades of the 19th century.
A day later, at a Forum Auctions (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) sale in London, beautiful copies of the first two volumes of Rousseau’s autobiographical work, Les Confessions, (above), published in Geneva in 1782*, were estimated at £1000- 1500, but sold at £36,000.
In contemporary French bindings of red morocco gilt with inner gilt dentelles, they bear armorials to the covers that the auctioneers could not identify.
However, it emerged after the sale that they are those of Maria Theresa of Savoy, the wife of Charles Philippe, Comte d’Artois and a grandson of Louis XV.
Following the storming of the Bastille in 1789, Charles and Maria Theresa fled France but effectively led separate lives until her death in 1805.
Nineteen years later her husband reclaimed the French throne as Charles X.
* Two further volumes of Rousseau’s Confessions were issued in 1789.
Further details on these sales will feature in future issues.