Bloomsbury Manuscripts, Literature & History, Modern First Editions Auction Results

Bloomsbury’s two day sale of Manuscripts, Literature & History, Modern First Editions (16th and 17th October) was a good, all round event. Manuscripts of all ages fared particularly well and highlights included a simple and very rare early document from the 12th century (lot 11) of a Notification from Robert de Watevilla to all his men, French and English which sold for £2200, over five times its lower estimate. A letter wrote by John Digby…to his children on ye sacrament (& letters on happiness)…(lot 111) in a handsome contemporary Irish binding of red morocco, dated 23rd May 1750-21st July 1751 sold for £5500, well over the estimate of £600-800.

Amongst the 20th century manuscripts were two lots of Albert Einstein letters. Since Bloomsbury’s world record price for a letter from Einstein this summer, Bloomsbury has become the place to sell missives from the great theoretical physicist. A handwritten letter (lot 83) dismissing a paper on relativity in which this iconic 20th century figure unceremoniously tells its writer that relativity has nothing to do with the statement that ‘everything is relative’, was bought by an overseas collector for £9500, comfortably over its estimate of £6000-8000. In this letter Einstein also writes that it is superficial journalists who wrongly claim that the theory is extremely difficult to understand! The following typewritten lot consisting of four letters on his theory of World Government, went to a UK buyer for £6000. A detailed insight into the work of the poet and author Vernon Scannell fetched £6000. This fascinating and extensive group of letters, articles, reviews and poems (lot 257)had been gathered and now sold by Alan Benson, the poet’s longtime admirer, friend and latterly also his amanuensis.

Amongst the sale’s English Literature and History, a second edition of An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding by John Locke with additional and revised material, made £1400, over double the lower estimate. In the Continental Literature and History section, lot 458, Enchiridion…Ecclesiae Sarum of 1528, far exceeded expectations by selling for £2000, ten times the lower estimate.

Ian Fleming continued to arouse considerable interest. Lot 620 was an unusually good first edition of Moonraker and it made £3400 (estimate £1500-2000); an excellent example of For Your Eyes Only (lot 624) sold for £1300 (estimate £300-400) while lot 630 a first edition of Live and Let Die fetched £3700 estimated £1800-2200. Amongst other Modern First Editions to do very well was lot 532 Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote with an inscription to his good friend Cecil Beaton which made £1100 (estimate £600-800). A signed and numbered presentation copy of the play One More Day by Joseph Conrad to John Drinkwater, made £1000, also comfortably over the pre-sale estimate of £300-400.

Auction info