MORRIS, William (1834-1896) -- Catalogue of a Portion of the Valuable Collection of Manuscripts, Early Printed Books, &c. of the late William Morris. London: Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge, 5 December 1898.
4o (242 x 183 mm). Contemporary grey half cloth and marbled sides. Provenance: Martin Breslauer (priced, with buyers' names).
Mostly PRICED WITH BUYERS' NAMES IN PENCIL, IN THE HAND OF MARTIN BRESLAUER who attended the sale, together with his limits in cipher. In April, 1897, Richard Bennett, an "eccentric Manchester collector... who had just been spending enormous sums at the Ashburnham sale" (De Ricci) had acquired Morris's collection for £18,000. "Bennett only collected manuscripts and incunabula. He was a conscientious objector to large folios." His limit in height was thirteen inches. In consequence, when he sold off those books and manuscripts in Morris's library which he considered unfit for his own collection the following year, the sale contained many desirable items which realized £10,992.2.11. But Bennett was not only an eccentric, but endowed with a keen commercial sense: two years later, in 1900, he printed a few copies of a short catalogue (a discreet offer) of his 559 incunabula and 107 manuscripts on vellum, most of them illuminated, which Pierpont Morgan bought in the summer of 1902 for £140,000. It became one of the principal components of the magnificent catalogues of Morgan's manuscripts and early printed books, 1906-1907, limited to 130 copies (see lot 885). Martin Breslauer, then twenty-seven and established as an independent dealer in the same year, bought about forty, mainly inexpensive lots, the most expensive being lot 987, Roman de la Rose, 1526 (£20).