The Lyon & Turnbull (25/20% buyer’s premium) auction had opened with Orkney, Shetland and other Scottish books from the library of the late John Robertson (1929-2015) – offered in 76 lots, many of them multiples.
Now bound in orange morocco, together with a typed transcription of the text, a 14pp manuscript journal kept by Andrew Munro, a surgeon of Kirkwall, was sold for £3200.
It records his brief visit to the islands of North Ronaldsay and Sanday, which in September 1786 had experienced an outbreak of smallpox among children.
Illustrated above is a spread from a 1698 first in later calf gilt of A Late Voyage to St Kilda… Now a little soiled, splitting at the hinges and showing some loss to the only other plate, it made £500.
The author, Martin Martin, was a Gaelic speaker from Skye who in the 1690s became convinced of the need for an account of the society, culture and the natural history of the Western Isles. In 1697 he visited St Kilda as part of a project to more fully map the Hebrides that he had undertaken in collaboration with John Adair.
A copy of Martin’s Description of the Western Islands… of 1703 made £440 and a 1701 Brief Description of Orkney, Zetland, Pightland Firth and Caithness by John Brand sold at £550. Both were in period bindings.
Bid to £750 was George Robertson’s Concise View of the Scottish Islands of the Hebrides, Orkney and Zetland of 1821. The focus here was on the agricultural improvement of the isles, with special emphasis on woodlands.
A 17-lot collection of manuscripts and printed works by the Orkney poet, George Mackay Brown (d.1996), followed the Robertson property. It included, at £2000, one of 15 lettered copies of Four Poets for St Magnus, Orkney. Published by the Brecknock Press in 1987 it contains poems by Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Christopher Fry and Brown, all of whom have signed their work.
A lot offering five signed pamphlets by Brown and Heaney also made £2000. The former’s contributions were Christmas Stories and Songs for St Magnus Day, Perpetua Press publications of 1985 and ‘88, while Heaney’s works were Night Drive (1970), Sweeney and the Saint (1982) and Crediting Poetry (1995).
An 1839 rulebook issued by the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers that made £6000 in the main body of the sale was featured in last week’s book sale reports.
Other high spots included an 1867 first of Pascal Coste’s Monuments Modernes de la Perse, at £6500; a large collection of John Betjeman’s works at £4600 and, among the earlier printed works, a volume containing a rare and important manual of Greek poetic metres, at £1800.
One of three grammatical studies that made up a volume published in Florence in 1526, this was a first printed edition of the Enchiridion of the 2nd century grammarian, Haephestion of Alexandria.
A copy of Thomas Somerville’s Discourse on our obligation to Thanksgiving, for the prospect of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, printed in Kelso in 1792 and still in original wrappers, made £700.
A 1952 signed wire transfer of 2600 Argentinian pesos from Oskar Schindler to a Gertrude Tutsuth sold at £3000 and a postcard that Schindler sent in 1957 to his wife, Emilie, made £2600.