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Event Date14 July 10:30 AM BST | Live auction 19916

Valuable Books and Manuscripts

Valuable Books and Manuscripts

Sale Overview

‘The star of the Valuable Books & Manuscripts sale is a newly-discovered copy of William Caxton’s 1481 translation of Cicero’s De Amicitia and De Senectute, the first work of classical antiquity printed in English; it is one of a selection of important early English books from the Kenyon Library at Gredington. Alongside this landmark of the birth of printing in England, we will offer the first Latin Bible printed in Paris, as well as a set of almost 900 printing blocks used by the Propaganda Fide printing press in Rome between the 17th and 19th century, chronicling the propagation of the Christian faith in languages as diverse as Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Tibetan and Syriac. 

Highlights from the medieval and Renaissance manuscripts include a series of high-quality Books of Hours painted in 15th-century France and the Low Countries, one painted in 1420s Paris by a follower of the Master of the Gingins Last Judgment, another a lively example of Hainaut illumination from the 1460s. Elsewhere, the sale is strong in music, including a single-owner collection of autograph musical quotations and composers’ letters; science, including a first edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species and Einstein letters; and book illustration, including a rare edition of A Happy Pair, Beatrix Potter’s first published work, and original illustrations by Quentin Blake.

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Auction times
14 Jul 10:30 AM (BST) Lots 1-78
14 Jul 02:00 PM (BST) Lots 79-172

Our specialist’s selection

Brought to you by

Sophie Hopkins

Sophie Hopkins

Specialist, Manuscripts & Archives | Books & Manuscripts

Sophie joined the Book Department as a specialist in 2013, covering medieval and renaissance manuscripts, autograph letters and manuscripts, and archives. She is also Head of Private Sales for the International Books and Manuscripts department.

With a wide range to choose from, some of her auction highlights include the sale of the Metropolitan Opera Guild Collection of musical manuscripts and memorabilia ($2,714,063; New York, 2017); working with the exceptional medieval and renaissance manuscripts from the collection of Maurice Burrus (May 2016) and those from the Yates, Thompson and Bright family library (July 2014); and leading Quentin Blake: A Retrospective, a sale of works from Sir Quentin Blake’s personal collection to benefit charity (£768,625; July 2018; and 2019), setting the world auction record for the artist in the process. Proving that the life of a manuscript specialist is never dull, Sophie has also sold a jambiya dagger belonging to T.E. Lawrence (£122,500; July 2015) and Nobel Prize Medals including Doris Lessing’s Literature medal (£187,500; December 2017); cataloguing the personal and literary archive of the hell-raising Irish author Brendan Behan (£200,000; sold in December 2017 to Princeton University) also provided some memorable moments.

Valuing and selling archives, whether comprising literary, political, or family and estate papers, has involved working with leading libraries and institutions internationally. A notable private sale highlight was an archive of Tolkien letters and manuscripts – many of these full of the author’s Old English verse – sold to the University of Leeds, while Sophie’s work on submissions for the Acceptance in Lieu scheme has included the substantial archives of the Earls of Dudley and Marquesses of Londonderry, and the papers of public figures from Denys Lasdun to Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Recently, Sophie has been working on the Book Department’s successful online-only sales, from Einstein: Letters to a Friend - a series of three online sales achieving 100% sell-through rates and £2,750,000 in total - to the Book department's online science series On the Shoulders of Giants, which has featured material from Isaac Newton to Stephen Hawking, the latter property offered directly from the late professor's estate.

Sophie speaks English and Spanish, and reads French and German.

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