A plate from the copy of Rashleigh’s Specimens of British Minerals sold by Thomson Roddick for £3600.

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Bid to £23,500 in a Thomson Roddick (17.5% buyer’s premium) sale of March 27 was a calf bound, small quarto volume containing nearly 40 tracts and pamphlets dating mostly from the 1670s-80s.

This volume, the most keenly contested of a group of some 30 lots that mostly comprised large numbers of documents, tracts and ephemera, has a musical introduction in the form of a 1685 Collection of Thirty One Songs…, mostly “within the compass of a flute”, but overall presented a far wider range of topics.

It sold to a buyer whom the auction house referred to as a specialist dealer in this field.

The following are just two more of those items that appealed to that person who, along with at least one other bidder, will have had a pretty good idea of which items were the most desirable.

An account of The Troublesome Life and Raigne of King Henry the Third was a much earlier item than most in dating from 1642.

Bearing the date 1684, the most recent of the component parts appeared to be a 5pp Account of Saddlers Well, or the New Mineral Waters lately found at Islington.

The latter, bearing the authorial initials TG, appeared just a year after Richard Sadler opened the ‘Musick House’ that was the first theatre to bear that now famous name. TG was Thomas Guidott, a ‘Doctor of Physick’ who had practised for many years in Bath and written about both its history and spa waters.

Sold at £650 in Carlisle was a volume containing two works relating to outbreaks of plague.

The earlier item, dated 1625, printed Privy Council. …Orders thought Meet… to bee executed in such Towns, Villages and other Places… infected.

The second, dated 1691 was a work by a very distinguished English physician, Thomas Willis. This was A Plain and Easie Method for Preserving… those that are Well from the Infection of the Plague… and other contagious diseases.

As the title page states, this work, though written in 1666, at the time of the last great outbreak of bubonic plague in England, had never before been printed.

I have seen a reference to a 1675 edition, but no copies show up in auction records.

The previous auction best for the Willis work was recorded at Bloomsbury Auctions in 2003, when a copy made £480.

Mineral coverage


A plate from the copy of Rashleigh’s Specimens of British Minerals sold by Thomson Roddick for £3600.

Sold at £3600, a sum only once or twice bettered at auction, was a copy of Philip Rashleigh’s Specimens of British Minerals…, the two parts of 1797 and 1802 bound as one in half calf and marbled boards.

Illustrated with 54 coloured plates, it had inscriptions on the endpapers, one of the made by a John Rashleigh that notes its purchase by a ‘WWR’ at Hodgson’s Rooms in 1905 for what would then have been the significant sum of 70 guineas.

In a March 27 sale held by Bonhams (27.5/25/20/13.9% buyer’s premium), an 1804-17, five-volume first edition set of James Sowerby’s British Mineralogy…, illustrated with 550 coloured plates, sold at £7000.