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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Clock Book Ticks up a Top Price on World Book Day

Yesterday’s World Book Day saw Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions sell an extremely rare copy of Christiaan Huygens’ Horologium, 1658, for £54,560 in a sale of Printed Books and Manuscripts, held at their London saleroom.

Rupert Powell, Deputy Chairman of Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions said: “It is a fitting celebration for this exceedingly rare work to achieve such a spectacular price on World Book Day. It has whet our appetites for the Fine Clocks, Barometers, Scientific Instruments & Horological Books sale next week, which along with an array of horological books also features one of the most important early English longcase clocks to come on to the market in the last ten years.”

Christiaan Huygens was a prominent Dutch mathematician, astronomer and horologist in the 17th century. The Horologium follows his presentation of the first pendulum-clock on the 16th of June 1657 and records the intricate details of his model.

COPAC, the National Academic and Specialist Library Catalogue, lists only one copy in the Bodleian and a photostat in the Clockmaker’s library. The Horologium eventually sold to a telephone bidder for £54,560, soaring past the conservative £6,000-8,000 estimate. [Lot 228]

Offering a fascinating insight into the West Africa Squadron was the Log Book of H.M.S Sybille and her Brig Black Joke. The log recorded the capture of various ships and the liberation of over 3,900 slaves from 1827-29. The unique and important log book sold for £7,440.
The abolition of the Slave Trade Act was passed on 25th March 1807 and, together with subsequent acts tightening up the provisions for monitoring and suppressing the trade as well as international treaties with European and American countries, gave Great Britain the role of international policeman.

On 6th September 1827 H.M.S. Sybille captured the Brazilian ship Henriqueta with 569 slaves on board. The Henriqueta was tried by a Mixed Commission Court at Sierra Leone on 6th October 1827 and condemned. 546 slaves were ‘liberated’ to be looked after by the Liberated African Department.

The Henriqueta was purchased by the Admiralty as a tender to H.M.S Sybille and renamed Black Joke. As noted in the log, during the next five years Black Joke captured at least 22 vessels, making it one of the most successful anti-slavery vessels in the West Africa Squadron. [Lot 44]

Elsewhere in the sale, a superb pair of manuscript works by Sebastien Le Prestre de Vauban, the foremost military engineer of his age, sold for £14,880 [Lot 41]. The example was an excellent copy of Vauban’s 1704 work, Traite des Sieges, de l’attaque et deffence des Places, written for the education of the Duc de Bourgogne, Louis XIV’s youngest son, at the behest of the King.

The auction was held on Thursday 6th March 2014 and full results from the sale can be found online at The next literary sale, Books from the Ecclesiastical Collection of Joseph Mendham, will be sold on Thursday 20th of March and the catalogue is available to view online at