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One of 100 stipple-engraved plates that illustrate Bryant & Cole’s privately printed Gemmarum Antiquarum Delectus… of 1780-83. It sold for £2600 at Dominic Winter.

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A collection promoted as perhaps the finest library of early numismatic books still in private hands in the UK was offered as part of a May 12-13 sale held by Dominic Winter (20% buyer’s premium).

Formed by the late museum director, academic and bibliophile Patricia Milne-Henderson (1935- 2018), it ran to some 160 or so lots in all.

Delectable gems

Gemmarum Antiquarum Delectus… is a record of such items found in the 4th Duke of Marlborough’s collections at Blenheim Palace.

Privately printed in two volumes in the years 1780-83, and in an edition of just 100 copies, it was compiled by Jacob Bryant, the duke’s former tutor and private secretary, and William Cole, tutor to the ducal children.

Gemmarum… was intended for circulation only among the crowned heads of Europe and other friends – though it was re-issued commercially by John Murray in 1845.

Illustrated with 100 stipple-engraved plates by Francesco Bartolozzi after Giovanni Cipriani, this rare original sold at £2600.

A handsomely bound, privately printed record of The Duke of Devonshire’s Collection of Gems thought to date from c.1790 was illustrated with 100 copper engraved plates by Gosmont. A copy which may originally have found a home at Chatsworth, it changed hands as recently as 1969 for just £29, but was on this occasion bid to £9000.

Intaglios impress

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Bound in seven book-form boxes and sold at £9000 at Dominic Winter was a collection of 300 white plaster miniature impressions of ancient gems, cameos, coins and medals created by two members of Paoletti family of Rome, c.1820.

Sold at £8500 to an online bidder was a collection of around 2750 miniature plaster intaglios of classical and neo-classical subjects. Contained in some 50 trays, they were catalogued as Italian and dated to 1820-40.

Bid to £9000, however, was a collection of just 300 white plaster intaglios of similar age. They presented miniature impressions of ancient gems, cameos, coins and medals, as well as some that were termed at the time modern sculptures and portraits.

Presented in seven double-sided, faux book boxes, they were the creation of two members of the Paoletti family of Rome, who numbered among their clients such distinguished figures as Catherine the Great of Russia, Ferdinand II of Tuscany and Lord Elgin.

Dassier medals

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A page from Charlotte Hanbury’s illustrated manuscript of c.1795, ‘An Explanation of Dassier’s Medals…’, which realised £5000 at Dominic Winter.

Sold at £5000 was a manuscript of c.1795 titled ‘An Explanation of Dassier’s Medals. Being a Representation of a Series of Events taken from the Roman History’.

Produced by Charlotte Hanbury (1755-1815), it features numerous ink and grey wash drawings with accompanying text in a neat copperplate hand.

It was said to be based on a book about the work of the medallist Jean Dassier that was first published in England c.1795.

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A plate from a 1754, first French edition of Natter’s Traité de la Methode Antique de Graver en Pierres Fines…, sold at £850 at Dominic Winter.

Also illustrated here is something that was a little cheaper, at £850, but a work that includes among its 38 engraved plates one quite irresistible example.

This was a 1754, first French edition of Johann Lorenz Natter’s Traité de la Methode Antique de Graver en Pierres Fines…, as compared with more modern methods.

Natter was a German gem engraver who had come to England in 1741 and became engraver to both the royal family and the Royal Mint.

A collection of over 30 coin auction catalogues, mostly dating from the early 19th century, was sold to an online buyer for a much higher than expected £3000.