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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams to Auction Richard Hatchwell Collection of Books

A remarkable selection of books from the collection of Richard Hatchwell , bookseller to John Betjeman, Bertrand Russell, A.L. Rowse, and Jane Grigson

A fascinating collection of books, which is especially strong in incunabula, early continental books and science, will go under the hammer at the upcoming Richard Hatchwell Sale at New Bond Street on Tuesday 8th October.

This eclectic selection of books reflects the wide range of interests of its collector Richard Hatchwell, who compiled a staggering 180 catalogues, many of which have become reference books in their own right.

From a generation of antiquarian booksellers who learnt the trade on the job by literally reading each and every book that passed through his doors, Richard Hatchwell was a renowned bookseller who amassed a significant collection. Hatchwell was an immensely popular figure with an insatiable interest in literature and a reputation of always going the extra mile for customers. From modest beginning, Hatchwell’s natural eye for a good book meant that he soon build up a very large stock, attracting the likes of Siegfried Sassoon, John Betjeman, Bertrand Russell, A. L. Rowse and Lord and Lady Eccles. Geoffrey and Jane Grigson were particular visitors of note as Jane’s sister Mary, became his wife and partner in the business.

One of the highlights of the sale is a first edition Johnson’s Dictionary, which will also be up for sale for an estimated £7,000-9,000. This first edition of the first standard English dictionary is indeed a rarity: “Nothing like it, nothing within measurable distance of it, had hitherto appeared…it remained for a century the unrivalled authority in the English language” (Courtney and Smith, p. 54). Another first of its kind is also expected to generate much interest amongst bidders, with the first edition of Issac Newton’s Opticks estimated at between £15,00 and £20,000.

Alongside this, a collection of manuscripts relating to the early trading ventures of Benedict Arnold, the American Revolutionary General who switched sides to the British Empire during the Revolution, is expected to sell for £8,000-12,000. These papers include two autographed letters by Arnold himself, who is widely considered to be America’s first official traitor.

Those interested in military records, will be equally interested in a manuscript treatise written in a French scribal hand, detailing the splendid plan for the invasion of England by the American army during the War of Independence. This project was the brainchild of General Charles-Francois Dumouriez and was based on the premise that the English had their hands full in America and would not have the means to repel an invasion. This extraordinary artefact is estimated at £1,000-1,500

Equally enthralling, is a large fine engraved facsimile of the original text of Magna Carta, the most celebrated legal document in the English-speaking world, is expected to reach in excess of £2,000. The engraving was the work of John Pine (1690-1756) and features a series of 25 coats of arms of the Barons, hand-coloured and heightened with varnish.

Of particular note are two extremely rare decorative Book of Hours, the first being ‘use of Paris’ (estimated £3,000-5,000) and the only one of its kind in the edition, the second the ‘use of Rome’ (estimated £4,000-6,000). These remarkable Horae’s are printed on velum, rather than paper, with striking Gothic designs and beautifully intricate illustrations.

Elsewhere, a rare hand-coloured copy of the important botanical work, Mattioli is expected to sell for £15,000-20,000. This beautiful book is coloured by hand and heightened with gold and was once the property of a famous 16th Century gardener in Nuremberg, Pietro Andrea.

Another notable lot is the first printed account of the life of Thomas a Becket, compiled from four principle sources (John of Salisbury, Herbert of Bosham, William, Prior of Canterbury and Alan, Abbot of Tewkesbury) and known as the First Quadrilogus. This historic artefact is expected to reach between £3,000-5,000.

Herodian, a book, which once belonged to Thomas Cranmer and still bears its original (unrestored) London binding, is expected to reach upwards of £2,000. Cranmer had a very extensive library, however what makes this book so unique is that very few of his collection seem to have survived in their original bindings.

From the library furniture collection, a specially-made designer library table in English cherry with folding book rests is estimated at between £4,000 and £8,000. This stunning piece was designed by Alan Tilbury FRCA FSDC and expertly crafted by Ian Heseltine, who have both been awarded prestigious Guildmarks for excellence in design and making by the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers.

David Park, Head of Bonhams Printed Books and Manuscripts department says: “It is important to us, and an honour, when we are chosen to offer the books or manuscripts of someone with long association to the antiquarian book trade—to provide what Nicolas Barker in his Preface to our cataloguedescribed as “the last Richard Hatchwell catalogue…a memorial to a discriminating taste and an unforgettable character””.