Auction Highlights: Antiquarian and Printed Books and Maps

Please click here to view the full catalogue online.

2013 is the bicentenary of the publication of one of the most important books in the English language; Bloomsbury Auctions is delighted to offer a first edition of the perennially popular Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Lot 201). Published in three volumes these books were previously owned by the Countess of Guildford, Susan North (nee Coutts), and as Coutts were Jane Austen's bankers for many years, this copy may well have come through a personal connection (estimate £20,000-25,000).

An extraordinarily evocative group of items in this sale consists of four scarves and neckerchiefs belonging to George Orwell, one of the most influential writers of the 20th century, dating from his time in the Spanish Civil War where he had gone to help in the struggle against Fascism. All have anti-Fascist images and colours, but one in particular has a small bullet hole and Orwell's blood; he had been wearing this scarf on 20th May 1937 when he was shot in the neck by a sniper at Huesca. This important trove of Orwelliania dates from one of the most significant moments of the author's life and one that ultimately contributed to his early death in 1950, aged 46.

Writing about this incident in Homage to Catalonia (1938), Orwell wrote: 'I had been about ten days at the front when it happened. The whole experience of being hit by a bullet is very interesting'Suddenly, in the very middle of saying something, I felt--it is very hard to describe what I felt, though I remember it with the utmost vividness. Roughly speaking it was the sensation of being at the centre of an explosion'. Webb, our stretcher-bearer, had brought a bandage and one of the little bottles of alcohol they gave us for field-dressings. The doctor re-bandaged the wound, gave me a shot of morphine, and sent me off to Sietamo.' These bloodied items (Lot 239) offered for sale by Bloomsbury Auctions are estimated at £800-1200; they have a strong provenance, as they are accompanied by a letter from Kathleen Wigham to Don Bateman, the father of the vendor; in it she describes how the items had been given to her husband Wilfred Wigham by Hugh Patrick O'Hara, who had treated Orwell in the aftermath of the shooting as he had had had first aid training, and had removed them prior to Orwell going to hospital. Orwell and O'Hara were both in Spain with the Independent Labour Party (ILP). Wilfred Wigham and Donald Bateman (1892-1987) were also members of the ILP, but Bateman had been unable to go to Spain due to his haemophilia. The items remained in Bateman's wardrobe until his death in 2010 when they came into the possession of the vendor. The Donald Bateman Collection, covering a number of subjects including the Independent Labour Party, is in the University of Bristol Library Special Collections.

The Antiquarian Books Sale on 3 October at Bloomsbury Auctions in central London, is the first of a busy season of book sales leading up to Christmas.


Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions are a UK 'top 5' auctioneer of fine art and collectibles. As part of Noble Investments (UK) PLC we are the only UK stock-exchange listed firm of auctioneers and occupy the same stable as coin specialists Baldwin's, and Apex Philatelics. Established in 1759, we have the broadest and most regular calendar of specialist catalogued sales in the industry, numbering over 150 per annum, and provide vendors and buyers alike access to market-leading specialist advice in any number of collecting fields. We operate from salerooms in Donnington Priory (near Newbury), London's Mayfair, Bristol and Godalming.

Dreweatts - 17 September 2013