More than trebling its high estimate and proving to be the stand-out lot in a January 25 sale at Dominic Winter (20/24% buyer’s premium) was an extraordinary and effectively unique collection of what were principally collaborative works by the playwright, poet, satirist and pamphleteer Thomas Nashe (1567-c.1601).
Sold for £64,000 in South Cerney, all were first or early edition issues, but in the form in which the principal part of the collection was assembled in the early 19th century, the collection opens with Nashe’s Lenten Stuffe.
That was a work that he wrote after he went on the run from London authorities following a furore that greeted a 1597 performance of his collaboration with Ben Jonson on a play called Isle of Dogs.
Lenten Stuffe, whose title continues …Containing, The Description and First Procreation and Increase of the towne of Great Yarmouth in Norffolke, was apparently written as a sort of thank-you to Nashe’s host while he was living in self-imposed exile in that coastal town.
Nashe’s writing has been described in past times as a delirious display of verbal pyrotechnics and led critics to comparisons with Samuel Beckett and James Joyce. It has also been called “…a mock encomium of red herring, a parody of the chorographical literature then in vogue and a burlesque of Hero and Leander, among many other things”.
The other works that make up the collection, or compilation sold by Dominic Winter are Pierce Penniless, Strange Newes, The Terrors of the Night, Pappe with a Hatchet (now thought to be the work of John Lily) and his only extant solo-authored play, a comedy called Summer’s Last Will and Testament.
Bid to £7800 was another sammelband, this time a two volume collection in a contemporary binding of 15 Restoration-era plays by Thomas Shadwell, John Dryden, Aphra Benn and many others, the majority of them first edition copies dating from the years 1670-90.
Sold at £1900 in the Gloucestershire auction was a 1700 first in a re-backed contemporary red morocco gilt binding of Panacea: a Poem upon Tea by the Irish writer and poet laureate, Nahum Tate that was originally to be found in the library of Patrick Hume, Earl of Marchmont and, among his other titles, Lord High Chancellor of Scotland.
The poem initially describes the origins of tea in China but in the second canto, it seems, departs from historical fact by transplanting tea to classical Greece.
A lot that sold for £2900 contained a 1708 first of Cyder…, a poem by John Phillips. It was a copy that bore an ink inscription reading ‘Ex Dono Authoris’, but this was just one small part of a lot that also included a 1764 second edition of Samuel Butler’s Hudibras and close on 90 other assorted volumes!
Bid to £3800 was a 1593 edition in contemporary limp vellum of Christopher Saint-German’s The Dialogue in English, between a Doctor of Divinitie, and a Student in the Lawes of England…
First published in Latin in 1528, with an English edition following two years later, this is a work that was viewed as the standard handbook for legal students until the appearance of Blackstone’s Commentaries in the 18th century.
Accompanied by a 1717 edition of the Rev George Brown’s Arithmetica Infinita: or, The Accurate Accomptant’s Best Companion…, a lot that sold at £800 was headed by a 1726 first of The Money’d Man’s Guide: or the Purchaser’s Pocket-Companion.
Issued in the wake of the South Sea Bubble crisis, it was a work intended to help investors determine what interest could be earned on the stock markets, even when, as the author recognised, they had to contend with such difficulties as trying to do business in overcrowded coffee houses.
On a more topical note, a lot presenting some 30 plans or views of Polish towns and cities, dating from the 16th-19th centuries and including some duplicates, sold for £1300.