Sold for £7800 by Lyon & Turnbull (25/20% buyer’s premium) on October 2, it was a handsomely bound example in 19th century green morocco gilt and contained the full complement of 96 hand-coloured aquatint plates.
One of the plates from Mayer’s book is illustrated above, along with a page from one of the natural history works offered. The latter, one of the more visually appealing and certainly the most profusely illustrated work in this field on offer, was a 1565, enlarged Venetian edition of Pietro Andrea Mattioli’s Commentarii which reached £7500.
Teaching the blind to read
Without doubt one of the more unusual lots in the sale, a copy of James Gall’s The Gospel of Saint John in the Angular Character for the Blind of 1832, sold at £1800.
Gall had published his first work in his ‘angular character’, subsequently known as Gall Type, in 1827 – as the First Book on the Art of Teaching the Blind to Read. This was over 40 years before the much more famous Braille script was officially endorsed by British teachers.
That which Gall had devised is a more geometric, angular version of the Latin alphabet, and as the cataloguer succinctly put it, almost runic at first glance.
Gall’s Gospel of Saint John… was initially intended to run to three volumes and to be priced at one guinea for subscribers. In the end it turned out to be a single volume, but it was still priced at one guinea.
In the original, though now broken boards, this copy also showed some dust soiling and slight dampstaining, notably towards the rear – but only a handful of copies are recorded in British libraries.
Matter of life and death
Manuscript material included, at £2800, a combined recipe and general accounts book of c.1690 that made £2800 rather than the suggested £150-250. Records of births and deaths link it to the Buckworth family of Lincolnshire, one of whose number, Theophilus, was at one time Bishop of Dromore in County Down.
The manuscript’s 90 or so pages include instructions for the preparation of such treats as ‘Pickled Cowcumbers’ and ‘Rogoe of Rabbit’.
Sold at £1200 was a notebook kept in the early 1790s by William Anderson, a Scottish musician from Kenmore in Breadalbane. In it he gives details of where he performed and how much he received for his performances at various Highland venues.