Published in 1804 and featuring 24 small oval designs, it is a satire by the Birmingham businessman, writer and artist James Bisset inspired by contemporary fears of a French invasion. It sold at £1000.
Sold for £1100 in the main part of the sale on on April 23 was a 1723 English edition of French-born Orientalist John Gagnier’s translation of a 14th century ‘Life of Mohammed…’ by Ismael Abu’l Fida (1273-1331), a Syrian-born historian and geographer.
The book’s provenance was the real focus of the catalogue description. It bore the ownership inscription of the Chevalier d’Éon, the French diplomat, spy and soldier who famously claimed to have been assigned female at birth and from 1777 cross-dressed and lived as a woman.
He steadfastly refused to submit to an examination, but when doctors examined his body after death they discovered ‘”male organs in every respect perfectly formed”.