The works of James Gillray featured prominently in a single-owner collection of Georgian satirical prints and drawings offered as part of a December 1 auction held by Forum (25/20/12.5% buyer’s premium).
The most expensive of them, at £8500, was a copy of the most famous of his satirical caricatures, The Plumb Pudding in Danger…, in which Napoleon and William Pitt carve up a globe in the form of a pudding, while another print that had Pitt as its principal focus, Midas Transmuting All into Gold Paper, sold at £2800.
The Gillray lot illustrated above, however, is a double-portrait caricature of an un-named gentleman.
Billed as a preparatory ink over pencil and watercolour drawing for a still unidentified print, it was last seen in a 2001 Phillips sale of the Draper Hill Collection of Gillray’s prints and drawings. In the much more recent Forum sale it made £1700.
Notable lots from the collection of the art historian and writer John Kenworthy Browne included a couple featuring work by the architectural historian and conservationist, James Henry Lees-Milne (1908-97), whose Dictionary of National Biography entry describes him as him as someone “who almost single handedly saved many of England’s finest buildings”.
Bid to £14,000 was Lees-Milne’s three-volume ‘Country House Book’, a large, oblong quarto manuscript of some 400pp listing houses, their owners, period illustrations and other references and notes on their architectural features.
Sold just under the low estimate at £24,000, but the Forum sale’s second-most expensive lot, however, was a good, wide-margined copy in a 17th century binding of Guido de Columna’s Historia Destructionis Troiae.
Printed c.1477-79 in the Netherlands, this was an exceptionally rare example of the editio princeps of an account of the fall of Troy written by a 13th century Sicilian judge.
Other early printed rarities included a 1587 first of Leonard Mascall’s The First Booke of Cattell, seemingly complete in a re-backed period binding, which sold slightly below estimate at £9000.
A copy of a book billed as being “…among the first ones to arrive in the New World” took £11,000. This was an exceedingly rare 1617, Leiden first edition of John Dod’s Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Tenne Commandments… containing Briefly all the Principall Grounds of Christian Religion.
Though a work that had been printed in London as early as 1603, its publication in England had subsequently been banned.
Katherine Philips, a daughter of a London merchant, was better known under her pseudonym of ‘The Matchless Orinda’ and may have been the first woman to have her poems published, said Forum. Sold at £2200 was a copy of the first authorised edition of 1667.
An 1857 edition of Tennyson’s Poems that their creator had inscribed some six years later with the name of the portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, but was actually intended as a gift for her young son, Charles, sold well at £6500.
A 1945 first edition of George Orwell’s Animal Farm bearing a previous owner’s inscription on the front pastedown, but an otherwise finely preserved example, realised £8000.
Orwell had struggled to find a publisher for this much-loved work. It was first rejected by his usual publisher, Gollancz, and then by Faber & Faber and Jonathan Cape, but Secker & Warburg finally came to his rescue.
One of 100 specially bound copies of the 1949 first edition of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four sold at £3000.
As well as the onlaid prosthetic eye and the skull buttons, this extraordinary binding boasts a number of other distinctive characteristics, among them compartments in the front pastedown that conceal a 10/- British banknote and an old $1 bill.