2015 marks the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, and a copy of the first engraved version, published by John Pine some 500 years later could sell for £15,000 when it goes under the hammer at Bloomsbury Auctions on Thursday 21st May in the auctioneer’s bi-annual Important Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper sale.
Magna Carta is recognised as one of the most important and most celebrated legal documents in the English-speaking world.
Compiled in 1215, principally on behalf of baronial rebels against King John, Magna Carta was re-issued several times in the 13th century, and over the centuries has been reinterpreted to form the foundation of some of the legal rights we enjoy today.
It is unknown how many copies of the 1215 Magna Carta were issued, but four copies are known to have survived: one in Lincoln Cathedral, one in Salisbury Cathedral and two are preserved in the British Library.
The example in the forthcoming May auction is an early 18th century engraved copy of one of the original 1215 Magna Carta texts now housed at the British Library.
Engraved by John Pine on vellum, with 25 hand-coloured coats of arms, it contains the famous clause “No man shall be seized or imprisoned, or stripped of his rights or possessions, or outlawed or exiled, Nor will we proceed with force against him, except by lawful judgement of his equals or by the law of the land, To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or injustice.”
Copies of Pine’s engraving appear only infrequently at auction and this one is expected to fetch £10,000-15,000 when it is auctioned at Bloomsbury Auctions on Thursday 21st May [Lot 201].