Two of the seven engraved plates that illustrate a 1764 first edition of Joseph Randall’s The Construction and extensive Use of the Universal Seed-Furrow Plough…, Draining Plough, Potato Drill Machine… and other agricultural aids that sold for £850 at Tennants.

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At his farm on the North York Moors he was renowned for his innovative and forward-thinking approach. He was the first to own a Charolais bull and the first to bring in Texel sheep, both of which are now firmly established on the region’s farms.

And for several decades Burtt was also a familiar face in auction houses and on the premises of book dealers and, indeed, binders.

His library was offered at auction on September 30 by Tennants (22% buyer’s premium). Some of the much-loved treasures that filled his bookshelves came from distinguished and noble collections.


The old calf binding of this 1554, Paris edition of Charles Estienne’s Praedium Rusticum, a forerunner of a couple of later works noted in this brief report, shows a number of what are quite obviously amateur repairs. The title was also said to have been re-attached, but it nevertheless improved substantially on expectations to make £1600 at Tennants.

Markham work

Sold at £2500 was a volume in a rebacked calf binding that contained a 1635 second edition of Gervase Markham’s The English Husbandman. It was one that brought together for the first time the two original parts and included in the latter, with separate title and pagination, a treatise on angling and cockfighting called ‘The Pleasure of Princes…’

Bid to £1600 was a 1658 first of Adolphus Speed’s Adam Out of Eden, or… the advancement of husbandry, one of whose more curious inclusions was a discussion on opium traps for deer.

In a 19th century binding, a 1606, second English edition of Charles Estienne and Jean Liebault’s Maison Rustique, or the Country Farme, a work that also contains a section on game hunting and falconry, realised £1300.

A copy of the 1616, third English edition of that work, the first to be edited by Gervase Markham, sold a little over high estimate at £800.

Bound as one volume were first editions of the two small quarto issues of John Houghton’s Collection of Letters for the Improvement of Husbandry and Trade.

Dating from the years 1681-84, they present all 16 published parts of what amounted to the first known trade and agricultural periodical – one of which included an essay on bread by John Evelyn. That lot sold at £1900.