A translation by William Caxton of a 12th century work by William of Tyre, this copy boasted handsome woodcut borders and initials by William Morris.
It was a copy labelled as having been a gift to Camberwell Public Libraries that was made in memory of her late husband by Jane Morris.
Less of an attraction, perhaps, it had acquired a public library bookplate and ownership stamp to that effect, as the illustration above reveals.
The white vellum binding was rubbed and there was some internal discolouration, but it sold at £3200 rather than the suggested £400-600 in a Mallams (25% buyer’s premium) auction in Oxford on February 9.
Odyssey and death
Bid online to that same sum were both a 1932 edition of TE Lawrence’s translation of The Odyssey of Homer and, against a very modest estimate of just £100-200, a lot said to offer some 400 books relating to ‘Death, Undertaking, Epitaphs, Graveyards, the Psychology and Culture of Death and Dying’.
Titled ‘Afghanistan/ Secret/1880-1884’ on the spine of the half calf binding and intended for the use of government offices, a volume containing printed memoranda relating to ‘Campaigns and Political Issues in Afghanistan and India’ was sold for £2300.
Guided at £200-400, it also contained a signed letter in the hand of General Charles George Gordon, addressed to the editor of The Times.