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Sold at £350,000 at the auction on July 28, and with all 23 text and plate volumes housed in a splendid cabinet, this was a set once owned by Louis Philippe, Duc d’Orléans and King of France, but given by him to the Bibliothèque du Palais de Versailles.

It was later removed by Napoleon III to the library of the Château de Compiègne but, said Sotheby’s, its movements in later years are unclear and “with the declaration of the Second Republic any Royal or Imperial association had ceased”.

Arabian secrets

Running to some 240pp in all, a volume of correspondence relating to the extensive research undertaken by Captain Frederick Fraser Hunter in preparation for a ‘Secret’ map of Arabia and the Persian Gulf dated 1908 sold for £32,000 in an extensive Mediterranean and Middle East section of the sale.

Regarded as a ‘milestone’ map of the Arabian Peninsula, it was produced to accompany JG Lorimer’s Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf.

A little later, but again marked confidential, was The Rise of Islam and the Caliphate…, a handbook prepared for use by delegates of the 32 allied nations attending the 1919 meeting in Paris that eventually led to the formation of the League of Nations. It sold at £2400.

Photographic lots included one group of a dozen views of Mecca, Medina and elsewhere issued by Mirza & Sons in the early 20th century that sold at £19,000, but an album of 81 albumen prints of Persian interest, some 35 of them with hand colouring, was bid to £32,000.

Most likely compiled by a French diplomat in the 1870s-80s, said Sotheby’s, they include 20 or so that are signed in the negative by either Antoine Sevrugin or B Agaiantz.

Photographs also featured among the highlights of an Asian section of the sale, with £24,000 paid for an album of c.1884-1900 containing 169 platinum prints of Sarawak and its people by Charles Hose and Robert Shelford. Lotted with three books from Hose’s library, it was sent for auction by a descendant.

A handsome set of Cook’s Voyages making its fourth auction appearance of relatively modern times was one first recorded in the possession of John Morritt of Rokeby Park. A classical scholar and author who in the mid 1790s travelled widely in Greece and Asia Minor, Morritt was one of the founders and first members of the Travellers Club.

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The ex-Rokeby Park set of Cook’s 'Voyages' – sold on its fourth auction outing at £42,000 at Sotheby’s.

Sir Walter Scott, a close friend, described him as “a man unequalled in the mixture of sound good sense, high literary cultivation, and the kindest and sweetest temper that ever graced a human bosom”. The set was first sold at Sotheby’s by a descendant in 1961, but returned in 2001 and then in 2007 turned up at Christie’s, where bidding reached £30,000. This time it made £42,000.

Sold at £32,000 was an example of a rare, unauthorised edition of Flamsteed’s Historia Coelestis… from the library of the Earls of Haddington. When this edition appeared in 1712 Flamsteed managed to get a large part of the print run destroyed.

The most expensive of the atlases was a fine early example of Johannes van Keulen’s Zee-Atlas. A vellum bound 1685 issue containing 40 double-page maps, all in full contemporary colour, it made £70,000.

Sold for a much higher than expected £22,000 was a miniature terrestrial and celestial globe by Anders Akerman. Published in 1742, just three years after he opened his much admired globe workshop in Uppsala, this globe of a little over 4in (11cm) diameter was one for which Sotheby’s could find no other auction record.

Natural history highlights included, at £35,000 and among lots from Spetchley Park, near Worcester, a two volume, 1803-05 first of Etienne-Pierre Ventenat’s Jardin de la Malmaison. It is illustrated with 120 hand-finished, coloured printed stipple engraved plates after Redouté.

Elsewhere an 1801-05, first folio edition of Levaillant’s Histoire naturelle des perroquets that lacked one of the 145 colour printed and hand finished engraved plates after Jacques Barraband was sold at £32,000.