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Bonhams Auctions Richard Hatchwell Book Collection

Bonhams Sale of Richard Hatchwell’s collection achieved an outstanding £435,024 with lots varying from Thomas Cranmer’s Herodian to the complete set of Bossuet’s masterpieces of French oratory.

95% of the lots were sold by value, indeed several lots achieved many times their estimate, with the first German edition of the Napoleonic code reaching ten times its estimate at £20,000.

HerodianNotably featured within the sale was a copy of Herodian dating from 1529, still in its original binding, belonging to Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 16th Century. Cranmer had a very extensive library, however what made the book so unique is that very few of his collection have survived in their original bindings. The lot achieved a remarkable £12,000 from an estimate of upwards of £2,000.

Elsewhere, a rare hand-coloured copy of the important botanical work, Mattioli was expected to sell for £15,000-20,000 and in fact reached an extraordinary £45,000. The beautiful book is coloured by hand and heightened with gold and was once the property of a famous 16th century gardener in Nuremberg,Camerarius.

Another major lot within the sale was the complete set of Bossuet’s masterpieces of French oratory, presented by Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orleans. It sold for £40,000 from a guide price of upwards of £2,000.

Alongside this, a collection of manuscripts were featured in the sale relating to the early trading ventures of Benedict Arnold, the American Revolutionary General who switched sides to the British Empire during the Revolution. These papers include two autographed letters by Arnold himself, who is widely considered to be America’s first official traitor.

A fine copy of the first German edition of the Napoleonic code, which came into force in all the countries of the Empire sold for 10 times the estimate at £20,000.

The first Dutch edition of Kirchers’ China Monumentis, with remarkable original colour sold for £25,000.

The sale featured a diverse cross section of books, particularly strong in incunabula, early continental books and science.

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.

David Park, Head of Bonhams Printed Books and Manuscripts department says: “the result is clearly very good news, particularly the increased and strong participation from Continental dealers and collectors”.