The library collection of more than 35 lots includes a number of works on metallurgy and design, as would be expected from such a library. But it also includes a wide range of rare books such as those that had formed part of the personal library of Matthew Boulton, the Birmingham silversmith who founded the assay office back in 1773.
Among the books from Boulton’s library is a 1763 The Holy Bible, containing the Old Testament and the New, produced by renowned printing innovator John Baskerville (1707-75). In red morocco gilt and published by Cambridge University, it has an estimate of £4000-6000.
One of three works by Longitude Prize-winner John Harrison in the sale is a first edition of his An account of the proceedings, in order to the discovery of the longitude… from 1763.
Harrison was an 18th century clockmaker who invented the marine chronometer, thus solving the problem of calculating longitude while at sea. Printed by T and JW Pasham, in ‘Black-Friars’, it is estimated at £30,000-40,000.
Another stand-out lot is a copy of the 1896 Kelmscott Press production of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer now newly imprinted. In original holland-backed boards and one of 425 copies, it is estimated at £20,000-30,000 at the March 26 sale.
The assay office, in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, has retained a core collection of books and intends to invest the proceeds of this Forum auction back into its business.