Oct 12: The Edge Hall Library at Forum Auctions

- by Thomas C. McKinney


London-based Forum Auctions is a relatively new player in the field, having formed last year, but their team is anything but new to the rare book business. Since their launch, they have been quite active, with over 50 auctions conducted since July 2016! October is another busy month for Forum, with seven sales on the docket between London and their satellite office in Rome. Make sure to check out their Sales Calendar here.


For this sale preview, I’m going to focus on The Edge Hall Library, a live sale of 311 lots taking place October 12, at Forum’s regular auction venue, the Westbury Hotel in London. I’d never heard of the Edge Hall Library myself, and Forum includes this information at the beginning of the catalog:


The Dod family have been at Edge, near Malpas in Cheshire since Hova Dot settled there in King Henry II’s time. Another ancestor, Sir Anthony Dod, was one of the heroes at Agincourt and was knighted by Henry V on the battlefield. The library, formed largely in the 19th century, is a typical country house collection, focussing mainly on Natural history, Travel, Economics, Literature, Illustrated Books, handsomely bound sets and albums of prints. By order of the Trustees of Mr. A.K. Wolley Dod Residuary Trust the library is now offered for sale.


Headlining the sale is a five-volume set that has been described as “the most sumptuous and costly of British bird books” by British bibliographers Mullens and Swann. This work is probably no mystery to interested collectors, as it is quite famous: John Gould’s The Birds of Great Britain. An original subscriber’s copy first edition printed between 1862 and 1873, 367 hand-colored lithograph plates make Gould’s work a gem in any ornithological or natural history collection. The five volumes are estimated £30,000 to £40,000 as lot 98 of the sale.


Works of nature are in fact a strength of the sale. Beside Gould’s Birds, two other lots, floral in nature, stand out. The first is a florilegium—a term referring to a treatise on flowers that are ornamental in nature rather than scientific—by Daniel Rabel called Theatrum Florae. Another first edition, with 69 plates, this is the second engraved florilegium to be published in France (1622), and the artistry is exceptional. Estimated £10,000 to £15,000 as lot 118, this volume is rarely seen at auction in its complete form. Somewhat related is lot 111, a large run of The Botanical Magazine; or Flower Garden Displayed from the years 1791 to 1872. Volumes 1-62 (bound in 41 volumes), and volumes 79-98 are included for sale, totaling 4770 hand-colored plates! Forum calls the magazine “the most impressive and comprehensive, magnificently illustrated botanical magazine.” A massive run of it can be yours for an estimated £10,000 to £15,000.


If flowers don’t interest you, perhaps maps do? One of the sale’s first lots, #7, is John Arrowsmith’s The London Atlas of Universal Geography from 1842, an edited reprint of his 1832 work of the same name. Sixty-eight double-page engraved maps with hand-colored outlines are contained within. This edition is noteworthy for a specific 1843 map of Texas that is considered "probably the first to show the full extent of Texas's claim to the region of the upper Rio Grande, an area included within Texas's boundaries until the Compromise of 1850... [and] the best information on Texas geography available in Europe" (Martin & Martin, Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 32). Lot 7 is another item estimated £10,000 to £15,000.


The final highlight of this auction preview is a work on an entirely different subject from what we’ve seen so far, and this one is probably most at home on the shelves of a wolf on Wall Street. Estimated £8,000 to £12,000, David Ricardo’s On the Principles of Political Economy, and Taxation certainly fits in the budget of many people that the book’s subject speaks to. A first edition and an excellent copy, you can bid on it under lot 291.


Forum Auctions’ sale of The Edge Hall Library takes place Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 1pm British Summer Time at the Westbury Hotel in London. The sale’s catalog can be viewed in list form here, or as a PDF here.


Viewing times and locations are as follows:


220 Queenstown Road, London SW8 4LP
Tuesday 3rd October
10.00am – 5.30pm
Wednesday 4th October
10.00am – 5.30pm
Thursday 5th October
10.00am – 5.30pm

The Westbury Hotel, London W1S 2YF
Tuesday 10th October
6.00pm – 8.00pm
Wednesday 11th October
9.30am – 7.30pm
Thursday 12th October
from 9.30am