CHRISTIE-MILLER FAMILY, Britwell Court Library -- Catalogue of the Renowned Library. London: Sotheby's, 1916-1971.
21 parts in 12 volumes, various 8o sizes. Parts I, IV, VIII, X, XIV-XX, and the 1971 sale bound in 3 volumes: half red buckram, original wrappers bound in; Parts II-VII, IX, XI-XIII bound in 9 volumes: contemporary half maroon buckram, original wrappers bound in.
A virtually complete set, lacking only the miscellaneous sale of 25 July 1927 containing 30 previously omitted books (lots 456-486), De Ricci's "Part XXI." Except for Part III (without 4 plates), they are all in the illustrated issues (Part XX was not illustrated), with 423 plates; eleven have the printed price lists (Parts I and IX were sold en bloc before the sales). These series of sale catalogues are the only comprehensive record of the Britwell Library, "as a collection of English books," according to De Ricci, "the greatest ever brought together by a private individual. In many respects it rivalled or even surpassed the British Museum." Its founder was a Scotsman, William Henry Miller (1789-1848), member of Parliament for seventeen years, who kept his library in his house in England, Britwell Court in Buckinghamshire. He began his collecting career by making important acquisitions at the sale of the library of Sir. M.M. Sykes in 1824, and was one of the principal buyers at the sales of Richard Heber's library and at other important dispersals, as well as buying extensively from the leading booksellers, such as Payne & Foss and Thorpe. Dying without an heir, the house and library passed for a few years to a female cousin and from her to Samuel Christie-Miller (originally called Christy) who died in 1889, and finally to Sydney Richardson Christie-Miller. All three made considerable additions to W.H. Miller's already unequalled library. Finally, the trustees of S.R. Christie-Miller's estate sold the remainder "formerly at Britwell Court" in 1971; this alone realized £174,866, whereas all the previous sales had brought "over half a million sterling, the largest sum ever obtained by any library in any country... At all these sales, the chief buyer was the late Mr. Henry E. Huntington, represented, first by George D. Smith and, after 1922, by Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach" (De Ricci, pp. 105-113). Included is a duplicate copy of part XVII in cloth-backed boards. A complete list of the individual sale catalogues is available on request. (13)