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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams To Auction Burns Bible With Original Manuscript For Auld Lang Syne

Bonhams Celebrates 250th Anniversary of Robert Burns at Upcoming Scottish Sale

This year’s tenth anniversary of Bonhams annual Scottish Sale will include an outstanding relic of Scottish heritage – a bible once owned by famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns.

This somewhat antiquated small pocket Bible has evidently been well-used over the years, most notably during the last few weeks of Burns’ life. The timeworn piece is beautifully preserved in a velvet-lined blue Moroccan box, lettered in gilt ‘Burns Bible’ and is expected to fetch between £1,000 – 2,000 at Bonhams annual Scottish Sale taking place from 18th – 21st August in Edinburgh.

Burns BibleThe volume was discovered in 1840 by the father of its 1880 owner, as recorded in ‘Relics of Burns’, the late Mr Scott, a schoolmaster at Clarencefield, near to where Burns spent some of his last days. Included with the lot is an 1893 newspaper cutting noting that “At the time Burns was staying at the Brow Well he used the Bible, which he took with him when he went there to recruit his health, and when he returned to Dumfries he left it with a Mr Davidson or Mrs Burnie, and then a Mr Scott, a schoolmaster in the parish…”

Records show that during his stay at Brow Well, Burns was so penniless that, in times of need, his landlord would travel a full mile to replenish his exhausted stock of port wine, without money or pledge. The port was prescribed in evidently large quantities for the purpose of ameliorating the ailing poet’s strength.

The Burns Bible was also exhibited at the Burns Exhibition in Glasgow in 1896, and is a highly desirable memento for any proud Scotsman.

Miranda Grant, Managing Director for Bonhams Scotland comments that: “It is very exciting indeed to have such a personal possession of the great poets included in The 10th Scottish sale. As well as appealing to collector’s of rare books, this Bible will obviously also be of great interest to anyone with an interest in Burns and indeed in Scottish history. While lover’s of literature flood into The International Book Festival on Charlotte Square, I am quite sure any of them will be fascinated to come to Bonhams on Queen Street to hold in their hands a book once owned by one of Scotland’s most famous writers”.

This piece will be auctioned alongside another remarkable piece of Robert Burns heritage, when bidders will have the unique opportunity to ‘sponsor’ one of the world’s most popular songs: Auld Lang Syne. The work of Scotland’s favourite son is expected to attract the attention of Scots around the world, with the fragment of the manuscript and lyrics expected to reach £50,000.

The new sponsor of this rare Scottish artefact will then be in the privileged position of having safeguarded the manuscript within a new National Trust for Scotland museum dedicated to Burns – their good deed recognised by the installation of a plaque bearing their name as its patron.

Auld Lang Syne was written by Burns in 1788, his poetic words set to the tune of a traditional folk song. Since then, it has risen to international prominence and is known throughout the English-speaking world. Written in Scottish dialect, the title literally means “Old Long Since” or, more idiomatically, “Days Gone by”. In recent years it has come to serve as an anthem to celebrate the start of the New Year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Day.

This tenth anniversary sale will also encompass lots from a range of different departments at Bonhams including art, jewellery and silver. It will also include a whisky dimension for the first time in many years.

The jewellery section will include fine examples of Scottish agate jewellery, luckenbooths, an impressive selection of plaid brooches, a collection of pieces by Malcolm Appleby and a memorial stickpin for John Brown, presented by Queen Victoria. The latter was designed by Her Majesty following Brown’s death in 1883 for presentation to her Highland servants and cottagers to be worn by them on the anniversary of his death, with a mourning scarf and pins. This small historical artefact is expected to sell for around £700.

Other highlights include Pink Clover, a large Wemyss Ware pig attributed to Joseph Nekola which is expected to fetch £1200 and a Jacobite airtwist wine glass with drawn bowl which is estimated at around £800.