2379AB edit bees.jpg
The title-page and frontispiece of 'The Feminine Monarchie...', sold at £2000 by Chorley’s.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The monetary magic that revered association can work was emphasised, if on a much more modest scale, among the books offered as part of a January 29-30 sale held by Gloucestershire saleroom Chorley’s (20/15/12.5/10% buyer’s premium).

Sold for a record £3700 rather than the suggested £300-500 was a copy of Roderick Mackenzie’s Sketch of the War with Tippoo Sultan, published in Calcutta in 1793.

The previous best was £450 at Bonhams in 2011, and that for a copy of the first volume only, albeit one in original wrappers.

Bound in half calf and with gilt armorials to the spines of the two volumes, the complete copy offered last month was one of the works in the sale that had Ombersley Court in Worcestershire as their provenance.

Another was a 1782 edition of Elizabeth Blackwell’s Curious Herbal. In a contemporary russia binding that showed some crude repairs to the spine, it sold at £17,000.

No plate count was given, but there should be 500 coloured plates within its two volumes, and as only one copy has made more at auction it seems likely that it was complete.

In 2002 the armorially bound Beriah Botfield/Longleat library copy sold for £22,000 at Christie’s.

Sold at £2000 by Chorley’s was a 1623 (second) edition of a well-known bee book, Charles Butler’s The Feminine Monarchie...

It was in modern boards but only a couple of other copies of any edition have made more.