May is going to be a busy month in the auction rooms at Sotheby’s as The Library of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven, will be sold in London on 18 May, 2022. Auctions are commonplace but old collections of exceptional material at auction are rare and this one features material bought early in the 20th century, between 1927 and 1960, when very fresh copies were emerging. That Baron Fairhaven built a major collection of important books suggests exceptional judgment, and soon the market will be assessing his purchases.
The Fairhaven Sales will be held in two sessions, the first on 18th May and the second, in the fall.
Donald Heald, a respected dealer in such material, recently offered, “the Fairhaven sale of colored plate books should be understood to be one of the most important sales of botany, ornithology and natural history books, during the past half century. Such quality is quite special.” This said, pay some attention.
The Fairhaven sale, in two parts, will be completed in the fall.
Sotheby’s announcement explains the history of the collection. It’s a remarkable story.
Sotheby’s is thrilled to present for sale an exceptional collection of natural history books from The Library of Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven. The collection includes exquisitely illustrated works on ornithology and botany, mammalogy and entomology, by authors including John James Audubon, Pierre-Joseph Redouté, John Gould and John Abbot.
Such remarkable collections rarely come to the market, instead remaining myths in the book world. The genesis of the Fairhaven Library is, in itself, the stuff of legends. The first Lord Fairhaven's grandfather, Henry Huttleston Rogers (1840 -1909), began his professional life by selling paraffin in the local market in Fairhaven, Massachusetts—an ocean away from Anglesey Abbey. In 1861, Rogers turned his attention from paraffin to Pennsylvania, where oil had been discovered two years before. In 1874, Rogers sold his operation to John D. Rockefeller, and it became a part of Standard Oil. Rogers stayed on as a director, and eventually became vice president in 1890. By his death in 1909, he had amassed a staggering fortune of $100 million.
HENRY HUTTLESTON ROGERS
In 1895, Roger's recently widowed daughter, Cara, met Urban Broughton, a British civil engineer, who had been sent to the United States as a representative of the hydro-pneumatic sewerage system of Isaac Shone. Urban and Cara quickly fell in love and were married in November of 1895. Their first son, Huttleston, was born in 1896, and Henry in 1900. The Broughtons remained in the United States until 1912. When they settled in England, Urban served as a Conservative MP for Preston from 1915 until 1928, and, in the same fashion as his father-in-law, used his wealth and influence for the public good. His philanthropy was recognized with a peerage. Sadly, however, Urban died in 1929, before the title could be conferred. Instead, it passed directly to his widow and to his eldest son.
URBAN HANLON BROUGHTON, HUTTLESTON ROGERS BROUGHTON AND HENRY ROGERS BROUGHTON
In 1926, Huttleston, 1st Baron Fairhaven, and Henry, 2nd Baron Fairhaven, purchased the Anglesey Abbey estate, primarily for shooting. They agreed that whoever married first should sell his share in the estate to the other. Thus, when Henry wed Diana Fellowes in 1932, the 1st Lord Fairhaven became the sole owner of Anglesey Abbey, and set about cultivating the impressive gardens and other facets of the estate. Not to be outdone by his brother, Henry amassed one of the most important collections of botanical art in the world. He bought Bakeham House, near Windsor, and later South Walsham Hall, Norfolk. The Abbey was left to the National Trust upon Huttleston’s death in 1966, and Henry’s renowned collection of art was donated to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, collection to the Museum upon his death in 1973.
HENRY ROGERS BROUGHTON AND DIANA BROUGHTON (NÉE FELLOWES)
The magnificent present collection of natural history books was acquired between the years of 1927 and 1960. It is a testament to Henry Rogers Broughton, 2nd Baron Fairhaven’s connoisseurship, and many of the titles, such as Mark Catesby’s The natural history of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands... and John James Audubon’s The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, also offer a nod to his American roots.
Whichever side of the puddle you find yourself, if your interests are in plate books, you’ll find reason to follow these two sales.
Here is a link to the sale