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First edition of the Bills of Mortality, £37,500 from Peter Harrington.

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This well-preserved first edition of the Bills of Mortality, a death list compiled during the Great Plague of London in 1665, is priced at £37,500 from London rare book dealer Peter Harrington.

Two issues of London’s Dreadful Visitation were made with this copy belonging to the scarcer run identified by the ‘20th of December 1664’ date on the title page (a week earlier than the other issue). It records how at least 70% of those who died during the following year perished because of the bubonic plague.

The document is also offered with its folding table still intact and two related broadsides together with a 17th-century general bill detailing all the christenings and burials in 1666.

“Although not ostensibly a scarce title, when copies of London’s Dreadful Visitation surface they are almost always in poor condition, torn, cropped or defective, and the folding table is often missing”, the gallery notes in the catalogue entry.

It adds that only the Richard Green Wellcome Library copy (December 27 issue), which made $25,000 at Christie’s New York in 2008, “was remarked to be in particularly good condition”.

peterharrington.co.uk