Prices Of Early English Literature
( Originally Published 1898 )
NO class of books has advanced in value of late years to so great an extent as the chief examples of old English literature, and of this class the books printed by our earliest printer, Caxton, stand in a foremost position. It is proposed in this chapter to give a general idea of the variations in price of all the books printed by Caxton which have been sold by public auction. The number attached to each entry is that given by Mr. Blades in his great work, and it is hoped that few sales of these books have been left unmentioned.
We learn from Mr. Blades that there was no fixed published price for these books, but the sellers obtained the best price they could for them. In 1496 the churchwardens of St. Margaret, Westminster, were possessed of fifteen copies of "The Golden Legend," bequeathed by Caxton. Ten of these took five years to sell. In 1496 one copy was sold for 6s. 8d., and in 1500 the price had gone down to 5s. In 1510 R. Johnson, M.D., bought five Caxtons (" Godefroy of Boleyn," " Eneydos," " Faytes of Arms," "Chastising," and " Book of Fame") for a total expenditure of 6s. 8d. These are now in the University Library, Cambridge. In the sale of 1678, to which the name of Voetius is attached, three Caxtons sold for 7s. 10d. At the sale of Secondary Richard Smith's library (1682) eleven Caxtons realised £3, 4S. 2d.; at Dr. Francis Bernard's sale (1697), ten for £1, 15s. 4d. There were a considerable number of Caxtons in the Harleian Library, and several of these were duplicates. They do not appear to have sold very readily, and they occur in several of Osborne's catalogues at a fairly uniform price of one guinea for the folios and 15s. for the quartos. At the Hon. Bryan Fairfax's sale (1756) nine Caxtons sold for £33, 4s. At James West's sale (1773) the price had considerably advanced, and thirty-four Caxtons realised £361, 4S. 6d. John Ratcliffe's forty-eight Caxtons brought £236, 5s. 6d. At Dr. Richard Farmer's sale (1798) five sold for £19, 11S. 6d. An astonishing advance in price is found at the Duke of Roxburghe's sale (1812), where fourteen fine Caxtons brought £3002, Is. At the sale of Stanesby Alchorne's library in 1813 nine fetched £666, 15s. Ralph Willett's seven brought in 1813 £1319, 16s. John Towneley's nine sold in 1814 for £1127. The Marquis of Blandford's (White Knights) eighteen Caxtons brought in 1819 £1316, 12S. 6d. At Watson Taylor's sale in 1823 nine brought L319, I4s. 6d, ; John Inglis (1826), thirteen for £431, 15s. 6d. ; John Dent (1827), four for £162, 16s. 6d. ; George Hibbert (1829), five for £339 13s. Gd.; P. A. Hanrott (1833), six for £180, 16s.; R. Heber (1834), six for £219, 16s. ; Thomas Jolley (1843—51), six for p325, 15s. ; E. V. Utterson (1852), three for £116 ; J. D. Gardner (1854), seven for £739.
It will be seen from these totals that the present high prices did not rule at the sales in the middle of the present century.
In 1897 the total for the ten Caltons in the first portion of the Ashburnham library reached £5622, and the six in the second portion fetched £4264.
The following list contains particulars of the sale prices of some of the chief issues of Caxton's press :
The Keen yell of the Histories of Troy (1).
Dr. Bernard (1698), 3S.; Bryan Fairfax (1756), £8, 8s. This perfect copy was bought by Francis Child, and at the sale of the Earl of Jersey's library in 1885 it was sold to Mr. Quaritch for £1820.
J. West's imperfect copy was sold in 1773 to George III. for £32, 11S., and it was perfected afterwards.
J. Lloyd of Wygfair (1816), L126. This copy was bought by G. Hibbert, and at his sale in 1829 J. Wilks bought it for L157, 10S. ; at Wilks's sale in 1847 E. V. Utterson bought it for £165; at Utterson's sale in 1852 the Earl of Ashburnham bought it for £55 not £155, as stated by Blades. This was described in Hibbert's and Wilks's catalogues as having "six whole leaves and parts of four others supplied in facsimile," but at Utterson's sale it was stated to want no less than forty-seven leaves. At the Ashburnham sale (part 2), 1897, it was said to want forty-nine leaves. It fetched L950.
The Game and Play of the Chess, first edition (2).
R. Smith (1682), 13s. 2d_; J. West (r773), sold to George III. for £32, OS. 6d.; S. Alchorne (1813), £54, 12s.-J. Inglis. J. Inglis (1826), £31, 10S. —Lord Audley. Lord Audley (1855), £60, 10s.
White Knights (1819), £36, 15s.—Duke of Devonshire. This copy, sold for £42, was found on collation after the sale to want three leaves instead of only two, as stated in the catalogue; it was therefore returned, and sold for £36, t 5s.
Sir H. Mainwaring (1837), Holford. This may be the same copy as R. Smith's, as it has on a fly-leaf in manuscript, " Ex dono Thomae Delves, Baronett, 1682."
Old Essex library (Lord Petre), 1886, £645—Quaritch (perfect, excepting only the blanks). Earl of Hardwicke (1888), wanting the Prologue and three other leaves, £260-Quaritch.
It is necessary to quote from Scott's "Antiquary" a well-known passage, because, as Mr. Blades says, not a single statement is founded on fact." The particulars are so circumstantial, that they have possibly deceived many readers, more especially as Scott himself vouches for the anecdote as literally true. " Snuffy Davy bought the 'Game of Chesse,' 1474, the first book ever printed in England, from a stall in Holland for about 2 groschen, or two-pence of our money. He sold it to Osborne for £20 and as many books as came to Z20 more. Osborne resold this inimitable windfall to Dr. Askew for 60 guineas. At Dr. Askew's sale this inestimable treasure blazed forth in its true value, and was purchased by Royalty itself for one hundred and seventy pounds." It may be added that Askew never had a copy.
Chesse, second edition (34).
Dr. Bernard's copy (1698) sold for 1s. 6d.
J. Ratcliffe's (1776) was bought for £16 by R. Willett ; and at his sale in 1813, the Duke of Devon-shire bought it for £173, 5S.
Le Recueil des Histoires de Troyes (3).
James (1760), £ 2, 12s. 6d.—Jacob Bryant. This copy was presented by Bryant to George III., and made perfect with a few leaves presented by the Duke of Roxburghe. It was retained by George IV. when the Kings' Library was presented to the nation, and is now at Windsor Castle.
Payne, bookseller (1794), L5, 5s.—sold to the Duke of Roxburghe, at whose sale in 1812 it fetched £116, 11s. It has been sold several times since, each time for less money. Among Lord Spencer's duplicates (1823), for £73, 10S., to J. Dent; at Dent's sale in 1827, for £ 36, 1 os., to P. A. Hanrott ; at Hanrott's sale in 1833, to the Earl of Ashburnham, for L27. Second part of Ashburnham sale (1897), £600. Wanting thirty-three leaves.
G. Watson Taylor (1823), £205, 16s.—Earl Spencer (perfect, and uncut).
G. Libri (1844), £200 (a perfect and unusually fine copy)—sold to British Museum.
The copy, slightly imperfect, in the National Library, Paris, was purchased at Brussels in the early part of the century by M. de la Serna for 150 francs.
Les fais du Jason (4).
The perfect copy in the National Library, Paris, was purchased in 18o8 by M. de la Serna for 2 louis from a stranger, who had obtained it for half that sum.
Protositio johannis Russell (7).
The Althorpe copy formerly belonged to John Brand, and at the sale of his library the Marquis of Blandford bought it for Z2, 5s. At the White Knights sale in 1819 Lord Spencer bought it for L126. The Earl of Leicester has the only other known copy. Both copies are perfect.
Infancia Salvatoris (8).
The only existing copy known is in the Royal University Library, Gottingen. It was from the Harleian Library, and was purchased from Osborne in 1746 for 15S.
The History of Jason (9).
Richard Smith (1682), 5s. Id.; Dr. Bernard (1698), 3S. 6d.
J. West's copy was sold in 1773 for 4 guineas to J. Ratcliffe, at whose sale in 1776 it fetched £5, 10s.
John Erskine's copy was bought in 1817 by G. Watson Taylor for £162, 15s., but at his sale in 1823 it only brought L95, 11s., Richard Heber being the purchaser. At Heber's sale (1834) it was bought by Payne the bookseller for £87. This uncut copy, which is the finest known, came after-wards into the possession of the Earl of Ashburnham. It sold at the second part of the Ashburnham sale (1897) for £2100.
The White Knights copy (Marquis of Blandford) was sold (1819) for £85, is. At W. S. Higgs's sale (1831) it was bought by J. Wilks for £87, 3S., and at his sale (1847) it was bought by J. Dunn Gardner for £121. This copy was returned as wanting a leaf, and resold for £105. Gardner bought it afterwards from Pickering, who had in the meantime supplied the leaf from another copy. At Gardner's sale (1854) it was bought for Mr. Lenox for £105.
The Dirks and Sayings of the Philosophers, first edition (10).
Francis Child bought his imperfect copy at Bryan Fairfax's sale (1756) for £6. It was bound with "Moral Proverbs," and was one of the copies from the Harleian Library. At the Earl of Jersey's sale (r885) it brought £141.
John Ratcliffe's copy was bought by Ralph Willett in 1776 for 15 guineas, and at his own sale in 1813 it brought £262, 10S.
Sales since the publication of Blades's book :—Rev. T. Corser (1868), £100. C. H. Crawford (1876), £87 (Corser's copy). Duke of Buccleuch (1889), £65o. Earl of Ashburnham, 1897 (one of four complete copies), £1320—Quaritch.
Second edition (28).
James West (1773), £ 21—George III. John Towneley (1814), L189— Duke of Devonshire (erroneously described in the catalogue as "first edition ").
Third edition (83).
John Munro (1792), £16, 16s. Dr. Vincent (1816), £99, 15s.—Singer, for Marquis of Bland-ford. In 1840 some books were turned out of the Blenheim Library, and sent for sale at Oxford. The Bodleian Library bought this copy at that sale for L50. Blades was misled into saying that the Bodleian gave £199, 15S., by the fact, in this copy some irresponsible person has altered the price it fetched at Vincent's sale to £199, I 5S. by the addition of the figure r. Fuller Maitland (1885), £165—Quaritch (described as a second edition in the catalogue, three leaves in facsimile).
Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, first edition (12).
J. West (1773), £47, 15s.—George III. J. Ratcliffe (1776), £6. White Knights supplementary sale (1820), £31, 10s.—T. Payne (imperfect); not recorded by Blades.
The highest price recorded by Blades is £300, given by Mr. Huth at Lilly's sale, 1861. In 1896 two copies (both imperfect) were sold for over £i000 Mrs. Corbet's (Barlaston Hall), wanting nineteen leaves, £1020 ; R. E. Saunders (wanting only two leaves, a few wormed, lower margins in Melibeus mended), L1880. Earl of Ashburnham (1897), L720—Pickering & Chatto (imperfect, also some leaves from a shorter copy).
Second edition (57).
Brand's imperfect copy (1807) was bought by Heber for 10 guineas ; it was sold at his sale in 1834 to the Earl of Ashburnham for £78, 155. Lord Ashburnham (1897), £300 Pickering and Chatto (wanting twenty-eight leaves).
Boethius de Consolacione Philosophice, translated by Chaucer (25).
B. Worsley (1678), 5s. J. West (1773), L5, 10s. —G. Mason. J. Ratcliffe (1776), L4, 6s.—George III. S. Alchorne (1813), bought by the Marquis of Blandford (Spencer duplicate, imperfect) for £53, 1 Is.; sold to Watson Taylor, at his sale in 1819, for Z22, I IS. 6d.; at Taylor's sale (Z1823) Thorpe bought it for £13, 5S.
Thorpe bought a copy in old Oxford calf from Browne Willis's library, " without the slightest defect or repair," for £59 in July 1849, and he sold it in December of the same year for £105.
The Grenville (very fine, clean, and perfect) copy was purchased for Z52, i os. ; Duke of Hamilton (1884), L160 (perfect, stained and mended) ; noble-man (Earl of Westmoreland), 1887, £156 (perfect, excepting the blank) ; Earl of Ashburnham (1897), £510 (two leaves in facsimile).
Cordyale, or the four last things (26).
Osborne(1748), L2, 2S. J. West (1773), Z14-W. Hunter. Stanesby Alchorne bought W. Fletewode's copy in 1774 for Z6, 12S. 6d., and at his sale in 1813 George III. bought it for £127, 1s. Dr. Valpy's copy, bought in 1832 by Henry G. Bohn for £26, 15s. 6d., is not mentioned by Blades; Valpy is said to have given £87 for it. Earl of Ashburnham (1897), L 760—Pickering & Chatto (wanting eight leaves).
The Mirrour of the World, first edition (31).
R. Smith (1682), 5s. F. Child bought Bryan Fairfax's perfect copy in 1756 for Z3; this was sold to Mr. Quaritch at the Earl of Jersey's sale (1885) for £195. J. West had two copies, which were sold in 1773 a perfect one to George III. for 12 guineas, and a very imperfect one to Richard Gough for L2, 13s. The latter sold at Gough's sale (1810) for L4, 14s. 6d. Mr. Cracherode's perfect copy (now in the British Museum) was bought by him at Ratcliffe's sale (1776) for L2, 15s. The Duke of Roxburghe's fine and perfect copy, for which he gave 9 guineas, was sold at his sale (r812) to the Duke of Devonshire for X351, 155.
The following copies (in addition to the Earl of Jersey's, mentioned above) have been sold since the publication of Mr. Blades's book :
In 1877 Mr. Quaritch had a copy for sale with a vi, a viii, and the last leaf in facsimile, which he priced X200.
Sir John Thorold (1884), £335—Quaritch (perfect, excepting the blanks). Earl of Hardwicke (1888), £60—Quaritch (very imperfect). W. H. Crawford (1891), £ r 6 o (perfect, with the exception of one blank). Earl of Ashburnham (part 2, 1897), L225 (leaves in facsimile).
The Mirrour of the World, second edition (84).
West's perfect copy was bought by Willett in 1773 for X9, 15s.; at his sale (1813) it was bought for Lord Spencer for £136, 10s.
A perfect copy, very clean and large, was sold in 1844 with the library of Calwick Hall, Staffordshire, to Rodd for £41. Thorpe gave Rodd L94 for it, but sold it to Mr C. Hurt for £90. At Hurt's sale in 1855 Sir William (then Mr.) Tite bought it for L105. At his sale in 1874 it realised £455.
The following sales, in addition to Sir William Tite's, mentioned above, have taken place since the publication of Blades's book :
Sale at Puttick & Simpson's (1884)--a very poor copy, wanting eleven leaves, was sold for L8. Rev. Fuller Russell (1885), £265 (Hibbert's copy, which sold in 1829 for £36, 4S. 6d.; Hibbert had given £55, 13s. at the Marquis of Blandford's sale in 1819). Hardwicke (Wimpole), 1888, £60 (with "Cicero de Amicitia"). F. Perkins (1889), £100 (two leaves of Table in MS.). Birket Foster (1894), L77 (wanting eighteen leaves).
The History of Reynard the Fox, first edition (32).
J. Ratcliffe (1776), L5, 10s.—George III. J. Inglis (1826), £184, 16s.—T. Grenville. J. D. Gardner (1854), £195—Duke of Newcastle. (All three copies are perfect.)
One copy only that in the Pepysian Library, Cambridge is known to exist.
Tully of Old Age, etc. (33).
Dr. 'Bernard (1698), 4s. 2d. Francis Child bought Bryan Fairfax's perfect copy in 1756 for 2 guineas.
In 1885 this was sold at the Earl of Jersey's sale (1885) for £350.
Dr. Askew bought T. Rawlinson's perfect copy in 1756 for L1, 5s., and at Askew's sale (1775) Willett gave 13 guineas for it. At Willett's sale (1813) it was sold to the Marquis of Blandford for £210. At the Marquis's sale (1819) T. Brockett gave £87, 3s. for it. At Brockett's sale (1823) Watson Taylor bought it for £47, 5s. Thorpe bought it at Watson Taylor's sale (1823) for L47, 15s. 6d. The " Merly " copy turned up again in 1857, when it was sold to Mr. F. Huth for £275.
The Duke of Roxburghe's imperfect copy was bought in 1812 by the Duke of Devonshire for £115.
Since Blades's book was published the Rev. T. Corser (1868), L96 (" Old Age" only) ; Mr. Severne (1885), £250 (perfect) ; Earl of Crawford (1889), £320 (perfect); Earl of Ashburnham (1897), £102 —Pickering & Chatto (Declamatio only).
The Chronicles of England, first edition (39).
R. Smith (1682), 3S. 6d. ; Dr. Bernard (1691), 4s.; J. Ratcliffe (1776), £5, 5s.; S. Alchorne (1813), £63—Duke of Devonshire.
J. Roberts's copy (1815) was bought for £105 by John Milner, at whose sale in 1829 W. S. Higgs bought it for £70, 7S.; at Higgs's sale (183o) it realised £73, 10s.
The following sales have taken place since the publication of Blades's book :
Mr. Rainy, Bath (1883), £160-British Museum (poor copy, and imperfect). J. Hirst (1887), L67 (imperfect). Duke of Buccleuch (1889), £470-Quaritch (perfect blanks excepted).
The Chronicles of England, second edition (43).
Bryan Fairfax's imperfect copy was sold in 1756 to Francis Child for L5. In 1885 it sold for £40 at the sale of the Earl of Jersey's library.
J. Ratcliffe's imperfect copy was sold (1776) to George III. for L4, 5s.
An imperfect copy was bought by the Earl of Ashburnham in 1860 for L180. It was added to the sale after the library of E. A. Crowninshield, of Boston, U.S., had been brought to England. This copy, bound in new brown morocco, with " Description of Britain " (three leaves in facsimile), sold at Lord Ashburnham's sale (1897) for £610—Pickering & Chatto.
Mr. Quaritch bought the Duke of Buccleuch's copy in r889 for Z45. This was wrongly described in the catalogue as wanting only "fourteen leaves, of which two are blank," whereas it not only wanted the first fourteen printed leaves as well as the two blanks, but also the last six.
The Description of Hritai (40).
J. Towneley's imperfect copy was bought by George III. in 1814 for £85, 1s.
The Duke of Buccleuch's copy was bought by Mr. Quaritch in 1889 for Z195. It was made up from two imperfect copies, with some leaves inlaid, but otherwise complete.
The History of Godfrey of Boloyne (42).
R. Smith (1682), 18s. 2d.—Earl of Peterborough. Dr. Bernard (1698), 4s. J. West (1773), £10, 10s. —George III. J. Ratcliffe (1776), £6, 16s. 6d.—W. Hunter. Dr. Vincent (1816), J 215, 5s., bought by Singer, but Blades says the Marquis of Blandford ; but Mr. Norgate thinks this is a mistake, as there was no copy in the White Knights sale. Mr. Holford's copy and that in the British Museum were the only known perfect copies until 1884, when Mr. Quaritch announced in his catalogue (No. 21,842) a " very fine copy, quite perfect, with all the blanks, and in the original binding," priced £1000. Mr. Norgate suggests that this may be Dr. Vincent's copy.
R. Mead (1755), £3, 13s. 6d. Joseph Ames (1760), two copies; one sold for 7S., and the other for 14S. J. West (1773), £16, 5s. 6d.
There were three copies in Ratcliffe's sale (1775); one sold for 3S. 3d., another for 2S. 3d., and a third for £5, 15S. 6d.
Heber bought S. Tyssen's copy in 1801 for £5 ; at his own sale it fetched £10, 15s.
The White Knights perfect copy was bought by Payne in 18r 9 for £94, 10S. it is now in the Grenville Library. (Blades overlooked this.)
Dent's perfect copy was bought by Perkins in 1827 for £103, 19s. ; at the latter's sale (1873) it was bought by Mr. Quaritch for £365.
Lord Charlemont (1865), £477—Walford (wanting two leaves). This copy went to New York, and was sold immediately for 675o dollars (=about L1380). T. Edwards (1871), wanting seven leaves, £34 Quaritch. This copy was sold at the Earl of Aylesford's sale (1888) for £110, also to Mr. Quaritch. The seven leaves were supplied in facsimile. Ten were mounted, and a few others mended.
Sir W. Tite's copy, with a 2, 3, 4, 8 in facsimile, realised in 1874 £150. Ashburnham copy (1897), wanting forty-six leaves, £201.
Other copies sold since the publication of Blades's book were mere fragments, and only realised small sums.
The Pilgrimage of the Soul (4.5).
R. Smith (1682), 5s. J. West (1773), £8, 17s. 6d. J. Ratcliffe (1776), £3, 17s. At the Marquis of Blandford's sale (1819) Earl Spencer bought it for L 152, 5s. He perfected it with three leaves from a copy formerly belonging to Heber, and sold it in 1821, when Heber bought it again for £26, 15s. 6d., but at his sale in 1834 it only realised 18 guineas.
The Festial, first edition (47).
J. Ratcliffe had two copies : J. Edwards bought one for £3, 2S., and Dr. Farmer the other for L3. In 1796 the latter bought Herbert's copy for £2, 2s., and made a perfect copy from the two. Lord Spencer bought this at Farmer's sale in 1798 for £5.
Second edition (88).
The Duke of Roxburghe's copy was bought by Earl Spencer for £105. Only one has occurred for sale since, viz., Rev. E. James (1854), L27, now in the British Museum.
Confessio Amantis (50).
F. Child bought B. Fairfax's beautiful and perfect copy for £3 in 1756, and at the Earl of Jersey's sale in 1885 it realised £810. It is now in the United States. George HI. bought West's impereet and cropped copy for 9 guineas. Topham Beauclerk's copy, wanting ten leaves, sold in 178r for £2, 4s. ; in 1881 it was sold at Mr. G. L. Way's sale for £77. The Duke of Roxburghe's perfect copy was bought by the Duke of Devonshire for £336.
Willett's copy has been sold several times, and each time for a lower price than before. In 1813 the Marquis of Blandford bought it at Willett's sale in 1813 for £315. At the White Knights sale (0319) it was described as "remarkably fine and perfect," and was sold to G. Watson Taylor for £205, 16s. On being collated it was found to want six leaves, and was consequently returned, and resold to Mr. Watson Taylor for £131, 5s. At his sale in 1823 it only realised £57, 15S.
W. Haggard (1867), £185 (wanting several leaves). Lord Sclsey's perfect copy sold in 1872 for £67o. H. Perkins (1873), £245 (six leaves in facsimile). Ashburnham (part 2, 1897), imperfect, £i88.
The Knight of the Tower (51).
R. Smith (1682), 5s. 1d. J. Brand's perfect copy was bought by Earl Spencer in 1807 for £111, 6s.
G. Watson Taylor bought the Marquis of Bland-ford's perfect copy (without blanks) in 1819 for £85, 1s. At his sale in 1823 Jolley bought it for £52, 10s. Rodd bought it for Corser, at Jolley's sale in 1843, for £90. At Corser's sale (1868) Mr. Quaritch bought it for £560.
R. Smith(1682), 4S. 2d.; Dr. Bernard (1698), £s. 10d.
The Duke of Devonshire's fine and perfect copy has the Earl of Oxford's autograph—" I bought this book at Edinburgh and paid for it the price of ,£3, 3S. to Mr. Alex. Seymmer Bookseller in the parliament close May 24 1725." In another hand, "Ex Bib : Hari ; L1, i s., Feb. 1745." It was bought from Messrs. Arch for £105.
The sale of Watson Taylor's copy (1823) to Barclay for £30, 19s. 6d. is not recorded by Blades.
Earl of Ashburnham (1897), L295—Pickering and Chatto (imperfect).
The Golden legend, first edition (53).
West's imperfect copy was bought (1773) by Dr. Hunter for £12, 15S., and is now at Glasgow. Ratcliffe's imperfect copy was bought by George III. (1776) for L5, 15s. 6d. The highest price recorded by Blades at which a copy has sold is £230, bought by the Duc d'Aumale in 1854 at J. Dunn Gardner's sale. This copy wants the last leaf in the Table and Biiij, the latter supplied in facsimile. Corser's imperfect copy sold in 1869 for £147. It is now in the Huth library, W. H. Crawford's imperfect copy sold in 1891 for £465.
Second edition (66).
There are no records of sales.
Third edition (93).
Printed by Wynkyn de Worde.
The Order of Chivalry (56).
J. West (1773), L5, 5s.—G. Mason. J. Ratcliffe (1776), L2, 8s.—George III. (imperfect). Lord Lovat (1852), £55, 10s.—Earl of Ashburnham (imperfect). Lord Ashburnham (1897), £345--Pickering & Chatto (imperfect).
Troylus and Creside (60).
West's perfect copy was bought by George M. in 1773 for 10 guineas. Ratcliffe's large and clean, but imperfect, copy has been sold several times at very varying prices. Herbert bought it in 1776 for L2. At Towneley's sale in 1814 the Marquis of Blandford bought it for L252, 2s. At the White Knights sale in 1819 Watson Taylor gave £162, 15s. for it. Thomas Grenville bought it for £66, 3S. at Watson Taylor's sale in 1823.
The Life of our Lady (61).
Earl Spencer gave L130 for his imperfect copy. The highest sale price recorded by Blades is L49 for the Duke of Roxburghe's copy. The Rev. T. Corser's imperfect copy, for which he gave £32 at Utterson's sale in 1852, sold for L113 in 1868. Sir William Tite's very imperfect copy (wanting thirty leaves) belonged to West, and was bought at his sale by Herbert for L2, I 2S. 6d. Tite bought it in 1859 for 4 r, and at his sale it sold for £54. The Earl of Devon's quite perfect copy (with the blanks) was bought by Mr. Quaritch for £880 in 1883.
The Noble Histories of King Arthur (63).
The only known perfect copy was in the Harleian Library, and was sold by Osborne in 1748 to Bryan Fairfax for L5. At Fairfax's sale in 1756 Francis Child bought it for two guineas and a half, and in 1885 it was sold at the Earl of Jersey's sale to Mr. Quaritch for £1950. It is now in New York.
The Life of Charles the Great (64).
The only known copy which is perfect is now in the King's Library, British Museum. Ratcliffe bought it at West's sale (1773) for £13, and at Ratcliffe's sale (1776) George III. obtained it for 4 guineas.
The Knight Paris and the Fair Vienne (65).
The only known copy, in the King's Library, is perfect. It was bought at West's sale by George III. for £14.
The Royal Book (67).
West's imperfect copy was bought by George III. for £10. Gustavus Brander bought Ratcliffe's imperfect copy in 1777 for £2, 13s., but at his own sale it only brought 15s. It was sold in 1864 to Lilly for L62.
The Althorpe perfect and beautiful copy was bought by the Marquis of Blandford at Louis Goldsmid's sale (1815) for £85, Is. At the Marquis's sale (1819) George Hibbert bought it for £73, 10s., and at Hibbert's sale (1829) Lord Spencer obtained it for ,,66r, 19S.
The Duke of Buccleuch's copy (wanting a. i, with two very slight defects, both repaired) is not mentioned by Blades. It was bought by Mr. Quaritch at the Duke's sale (1889) for £365.
Speculum Vita Christi (70).
West's copy was bought by Ratcliffe, who had three imperfect copies ; at his sale in 1776 George III. bought one for £3, 3S., Dr. Hunter another for the same amount, and the third sold for £3, 10s. Earl Spencer bought two copies one at J. Allen's sale (1795) for 11 guineas, and the other at the Rox burghe sale for £45; he completed the latter with two leaves taken from the former. The duplicate was sold and came into the possession of Sir Francis Freeling ; at his sale in 1836 Mr. Corser bought it for £25, los., and at Corser's sale (1868) it realised £67.
Two copies are known on vellum one, in very poor condition, is in the Royal Library at Windsor ; the other, in the British Museum, was bought in 1864 for £1000.
The Doctrinal of Sapience (71).
The Duke of Devonshire gave £78, 15S. for the Spencer duplicate (perfect) in Alchorne's sale (1813). Dawson Turner's copy (wanting six leaves) was bought by T. Bateman in 1859 for £28; at his sale in 1893 it realised 458. Earl of Ashburnham's copy (first and last leaf in facsimile), 1897, sold for £660—Quaritch (for the British Museum). The last Earl gave .415o for this copy.
Servitium de Transfiguratione Jhesu Christi (73)
The only known copy was bought for the British Museum at a sale at Puttick's in 1862 for £200. It was found in a volume of Theological Tracts presented to the Congregational Library, Blomfield Street, by Joshua Wilson of Tunbridge Wells in 1831.
The Fayts of Arms (74).
The largest amount paid for a copy at a public sale is £336, which the Duke of Devonshire gave for the Roxburghe copy (with a few lines of the last leaf in facsimile).
Bryan Fairfax's imperfect copy was bought by Francis Child for L1, 11s. 6d. At the sale of Lord Jersey's library in 1885 it sold for £67.
Libri's perfect, but mended and washed, copy, which he had bought in very poor condition from Mario the great tenor, was sold in 1862 to Mr. F. Huth for £255.
Mr. Corser's perfect copy was bought in 1868 by Mr. Quaritch for £250.
Sir W. Tite's copy (with the first two leaves in facsimile) sold in 1874 for £190. This copy was bought by Tite at the Rev. C. H. Crauford's sale in 1854 for L77. Crauford bought it at Wilks's sale (1847) for £54.
The Earl of Crawford's perfect copy, with Table inlaid, sold in 1889 for £235. R. Lindsay, in Philadelphia, had this copy in his catalogue (June 1893) for £425.
The history of Blanchardin and Eglantine (78).
The only known copy, which is imperfect, is in the Althorpe library. This copy was bought at Ratcliffe's sale by G. Mason for £3, 6s. ; at Mason's sale (1799) the Duke of Roxburghe bought it for L21. Earl Spencer gave £215, 5s. for it at the Roxburghe sale.
R. Smith (1682), 3S. Walter Rea (1682), is. 6d.
F. Child gave 30s for B. Fairfax's perfect copy, which sold at the Earl of Jersey's sale (1885) for £235.
Hanrott's imperfect copy was bought in 1833 by Lord Auckland for £43, IS. ; at his sale two years afterwards H. Holland bought it for £24. At Holland's sale (1860) Mr. H. Huth bought it for £84.
Mr. Quaritch had a copy in 1875 with two leaves in facsimile, otherwise a fine copy, which he marked £300.
The Art and Craft to Know Well to Die (86).
West's perfect copy was bought by Ratcliffe for L5, 2s. 6d. at Ratcliffe's sale George III. bought it for 4 guineas.
Mr. C. Tutet's copy was bought in 1786 by Payne for 2 guineas ; probably this is the perfect copy which Payne sold to the National Library, Paris, for 10 guineas.
The Chastising of God's Children (90).
R. Smith (1682). 5s. Dr. Bernard (1698), 1s. 10d. Osborne (1751), 15s.
The Roxburghe copy (perfect) was bought by Lord Spencer for £140.
The Earl of Aylesford bought the Marquis of Blandford's copy (bound with "Treatise of Love," No. 91) for £32, 10s, and at his sale in 1888 it realised £305. F. Perkins (1889), £100.
S. Alchorne's copy sold in 1813 for £94, 10S.; Valentine's copy in 1842 for £5. Blades describes this last in his catalogue list as Alchorne's ; but this is probably a mistake, as Valentine bought J. Inglis's copy (1826) for £17, 10S.
Sex perelegantissimae Epistolce (1483). 24 leaves. The only copy known of this tract was discovered in 1874 by Dr, G. Konnecke, archivist of Marburg, in an old volume of seventeenth-century divinity in the Hecht-Heinean Library at Halberstadt. The discovery was described by Mr. Blades at the time in the Atheneum (Feb. 27, 1875). This copy was bought by the British Museum in 1890 for £250.
Almost as scarce and valuable as Caxtons are the books printed at St. Albans :
The Chronicle of St. Albans (circa 1484), the second book printed at St. Albans, and the first edition of the Chronicle, was sold at the Earl of Ashburnham's sale (1897) to Messrs. J. & J. Leighton for £180. It was imperfect, but no absolutely perfect copy is known.
In Quaritch's catalogue, 1884 (No. 355), a copy with five leaves in facsimile and twenty-two others deficient, was marked £300.
The Boke of St. Albans (1486), a copy perfected in MS., was sold at the Roxburghe sale for £147. It was resold at the White Knights sale for £84. In March 1882 Mr. Quaritch bought it at Christie's for 600 guineas. The Grenville copy now in the British Museum has gone through many vicissitudes, which were graphically described by Dr. Maitland in r847. It appears that at the end of the last century the library of Thonock Hall, in the parish of Gainsborough, the scat of the Hickman family, was sorted out by an ignorant person who threw into a condemned heap all books without covers. A gardener who took an interest in heraldry begged permission to take home what he liked from this heap, and he chose among other books The Book of St. Albans. This remained in his cottage till June 1844, when his son's widow sold 9 lbs. of books to a pedlar for 9d. The pedlar sold the lot for 3S. to a chemist in Gainsborough, who was rather struck by The Book of St. Albans, and tried to sell it, but the neighbours did not wish to buy it. Eventually he obtained £2, 2S. for it from a man who expected to sell it to advantage. The purchaser sold it to Stark the bookseller for L7, 7S. Stark took it to London and sold it to the Right Hon. Thomas Grenville for seventy or eighty guineas. Mr. Blades communicated this account to Notes and Queries (3rd Series, iv. 369).
A copy was sold at the Earl of Ashburnham's sale (1897), which was stated to be the Roxburghe copy, completed by the Earl from another copy. Mr. Quaritch bought this for £385.
Still rarer than this is one of the treatises in a separate form and printed in the next century :
Juliana Barnes's Treatyse of Fysshynge with an Angle London : Wynkyn de Worde (1532). First separate edition, unique.
In the Harleian Library, afterwards in Gulston's collection, who sold it to J. Ratcliffe, bought at his sale by White the bookseller, sold by him to Mr. Haworth, at whose sale it sold for 19 guineas (unbound). Earl of Ashburnham (1897), green morocco, £360.
A few prices may now be given of some of the most interesting publications of the old English press, consisting of the works of poets, travellers, &c., all of which have greatly increased in value, and will probably increase still more :
King Arthur, W. Coplande, 1557.
Dent, £20, 9S. Gd., fine copy, in olive morocco by Lewis. H. Perkins (1873), £120 (same copy).
Bancroft's (T.) Two Bookes of Epigrammes and Epitaphs, 1639. Rare Books and MISS. (Sotheby, March 1897), fine uncut copy, £42.
Barnfield's (Richard) Encomion of lady Pecunia, 1598. Malone bought Farmer's copy for 19s. Ouvry (1882), £105.
Bradshaw's (Henry) holy lyfe and history of Saynt Werburghe¬ (Pynson, 1521, 40, PP. 294).
Only three copies known : (1) Gough's, now in the Bodleian ; (2) Heber's, sold in 1834 for L19, 5s.; (3) copy in Longman's catalogue (Bibi. Anglo-Poetica), 1815, marked £63.
The prices of Caxton's two editions of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" are recorded on a previous page of this chapter. Imperfect copies of Pynson's first and second editions were marked £25 in Longman's
catalogue (1815). The first edition (fifty-four leaves inlaid and two leaves in facsimile) fetched at the Heber sale£60,18s.,and at the Earl of Ashburnham's, £233. The second edition (1526) sold at the Roxburghe sale for £30, 9s., and an imperfect copy at the Ashburnham sale for £26.
Wynkyn de Worde's edition is as valuable as a Caxton, and a fine and perfect copy sold at the Ashburnham sale for £1000.
Cutwode's (T.) Caltha Poetarum; or, Bumble Pee, 1599.
Three copies only known : (1) Malone's, now in the Bodleian; (2) Heber's, from which the Roxburghe Club reprint was made, sold in 1834 for ;(3, 18s. ; (3) a copy which belonged successively to Steevens, Caldecott, and Freeling. Steevens' sale (1800), £2, 12S. 6d. ; Freeling (1836), £11, 15s.
According to Ritson, this book " was staid at the press by order of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of London ; and such copies as could be found or were already taken were to be presently brought to the Bishop of London to be burnt." Dibdin gives an amusing account of the Roxburghe Club reprint (1815) in his " Reminiscences" (vol. i. p. 465, note) :---" A bet was laid (the winner of the bet to give the Roxburghe Club a dinner) between Sir M. M. Sykes and Mr. Dent whether the anniversary meeting of 1815 was the third or fourth of the club. Mr. Dent was the loser, when Mr. Heber promised to present the club with a reprint of the above poem at the extra dinner in contemplation. Only nine days intervened, but within that period the reprint was transcribed, superintended at the press by Mr. Haslewood (without a single error), bound by Charles Lewis, and presented to the members on sitting down to dinner. Mr. Haslewood was reported to have walked in his sleep with a pen in his hand during the whole period of its preparation."
Drummond of Hawthornden's Forth Feasting, 1617, bought by Ouvry at Sotheby's in 1858 for £8, 15s. (bound in morocco), fetched £6o at Ouvry's sale in 1882.
Fabyan's Chronicles (Pynson, 1516), first edition. Dr. F. Bernard (1698), 4S. 8d.
Roberts (1815), £84-North. John North (1819), £92. (Perfect.)
Samuel Lysons (1820), £35—Lord Aylesford. Lord Aylesford (1888), £250—Christie Miller. (Completed by leaves from another edition.)
Foxe's Acts and Monuments (John Daye, 1562-63), first edition, complete.
Earl of Ashburnham (1897), £150.
Frobisher's Three Voyages of Discoverie, 1578, with Keymis's Second Voyage to Guiana, 1596, in one vol., calf gilt, by Kalthoeber.
Beckford (1882), £300.
Ouvry's copy of Frobisher, wanting the maps, sold for £68.
Froissart's Cronycles (Pynson, 1523-25), two vols. folio.
G. Mason (1798), £36, 15s. Roxburghe (1812), £63. Towneley (1814), £42 (title of vol. i. a reprint). IV. H. Crawford (Lakelands), 1891, £25.
Hakluyt's Principal Navigations, Voiages and Discoveries of the English Nation, 1589, with rare map, fine copy, in pigskin.
Jadis, £26, 5s. Same copy, Duke of Hamilton (1884), £23
Hariot (T.), Merveilleux et estrange Rapport . . . Francofurti, 1590.
Duke of Hamilton (1884), fine copy, in morocco by Lewis, £97.
Linschoten's Voyages into the Easte and West Indies, 1598, maps and plates from the Dutch edition, title inlaid, and last leaf mended.
Roxburghe,15s. Same copy, Beckford (1882), £14. Colonel Stanley, £22.
Lodge's (Thomas) Rosalynde, 1598.
Longman (1815), £20 (imperfect). Heber, £5, 10s. Ouvey (1882), £63.
Lok's (Henry) Ecclesiastes (London : Richard Field, 1597).
Longmans (1815), £28. Sotheby's (March 1817), 16s. G. Daniel, £38, 10s.
The first editions of Milton's works have greatly increased in price. Not many years ago a copy of the first edition of the "Paradise Lost" could be obtained for about five pounds, but now a good copy is worth at least four times as much. The prices vary considerably with the date of the title-page, of which there are several issues. G. Daniel's fine copy sold in 1864 for L28, 10s.
Milton's Maske (Comus), 1637.
Loscombe, £25. G. Daniel, £36.
Poems, 1645, first edition, with portrait by Marshall. G. Daniel, £5, 155. Pare Books and MSS. (Sotheby, March 1897), fine uncut copy, £24, 10s.
Purchas his Pilgrimes, five vols., 1625-26.
Digby (1680), £3, 5s. 6d. H. Perkins, 1873, fine copy, £86. Beckford, 1883, fine copy, £63. Earl of Gosford (1884), £82 (crimson morocco). Earl of Crawford (1887), £60.
Rhodes (Hugh), Boke of Nurture, 1577. Steevens (1800), £2, 2S. Longmans Ricraft's Peculiar Characters of the Oriental Languages, sm. 4to.
Bindley, £19, 19s. Same copy, bound afterwards in russia extra by Lewis, who charged 5s for the binding, sold in Beckford sale (1883) for £8, 17s. 6d.
Scot's Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584.
Boswell, £3, 3s. Comerford (1881), £25, 10s. (citron morocco).
It is interesting to notice that in the old sales of the seventeenth century the folios of Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Ben Jonson all sold for about the same price. Those of the first now sell for one hundred and two hundred times what they brought then, while those of the second and third do not bring ten times.
Beaumont and Fletcher's Works, 1647.
Sir Edward Bysshe (1679), 13s. 6d. Smallwood (1684), 8s. A. Young and others (Puttick's), 1875, £5. Alfred Crampton (1896), 10 guineas.
Jonson's (Ben) Works, 1640.
Benj. Worsley (1678), £1, 13s. 6d. Sir Edward Bysshe (1677), L1, 10S. Lord Bateman (1896), £8, 5s.
Spenser's Faerie Queene, 1590--96, first edition.
Sir Edward Bysshe (1679), 6s. 2d. Lloyd and Raymund (1685), is. Ouvry (1882), L33. Alfred Crampton (1611), 1896, with additional leaves, £85.
Weever's Funeral Monuments, 1631.
Two copies on large paper in Beckford's sale, part 4 (1883), olive morocco, index inlaid, 425; blue morocco, £38.
Mr. Addington bought at the Dix sale four unique tracts of Wycliffe for 4400, and expressed his opinion that they would have been cheap at any price, but at his own sale (1886) they only realised £133—viz., Crede, &c., L37; Consolation, £27 ; Testament of Moyses, £36 ; Small Prayers to Common People, £33.
Americana is a class of book which has grown enormously in price. Anything published iii America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries now fetches a price.
Smith's Virginia, 1624.
Dr. F. Bernard (1698), 4s. 2d. Hunter (1813), £27, 6s.
A large paper copy sold at the Beckford sale 1883) for L605 (dedication copy to the Duchess of Richmond, in old brown morocco, covered with gold tooling, with the Duchess's arms forming the centre ornaments).
Eliot Bible of 166 E-63.
Dr. L. Seaman (1676), 19s. Wimpole library
(Lord Chancellor Hardwicke), 1888, £580---Quaritch.
At this Wimpole sale (Christie's) a volume of twelve tracts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries relating to America sold for £555.
A curious incident occurred at Messrs. Sotheby's in July 1897, during the sale of the library of Mr. Cyril Dunn Gardner. A volume of Sermons, which included "A Sermon preached at Plimmoth in New England, Dec. 9, 1621," was put up, and the biddings, commencing at 5s., were carried on till 1, 17s. was reached, when the lot was knocked down at that amount. A dispute arising, it was put up again, and was eventually bought by Messrs. H. Stevens and Son for £87.