Hundreds of historic books that have been gathering dust in the basements of Gloucestershire libraries will be going under the hammer at a Cotswolds antiques auction next week.
The 900 titles – some of which are hundreds of years old – are being sold because they have not been requested for many years.
Library heads are hoping the auction could raise thousands of pounds, which will be ploughed back into the county’s library service.
They will be sold at Moore Allen & Innocent’s Selected Book and Picture Sale in Cirencester from 10am on Friday, October 25.
The oldest tome in the collection is volumes one to three of The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England Begun in the Year 1641, by Edward Earl of Clarendon. Printed in Oxford in 1704, the lot is expected to achieve £200 to £300.
The most valuable – according to the auctioneers’ estimate – is A Voyage Round the World in the Years MDCCXL I, II, III, IV by George Anson Esq, Commander in Chief of a Squadron of His Majesty’s Ships Sent Upon an Expedition to the South Seas.
Written by Richard Walter, who was chaplain on board the Centurion during that expedition, and printed in 1784, the book –an account of Anson’s travels in the 1740s – features fold-out nautical maps and diagrams and sketches of ships, both British and far eastern. Bids of £1,000 to £1,500 are expected.
Not as valuable, but no less interesting, is The Wye Tour or Gilpin on the Wye with picturesque additions (1834) .
Written by the reverend Thomas Dudley Fosbroke who, by repute, conducted the first commercial guided tours in England, his Wye tour, along with three of his other titles, are expected to attract bids of £50 to £80.
Trevor Allen from Gloucestershire County Council’s library service said, “Even though these items were listed on the public catalogue, no-one has requested them or has gained any pleasure from them for many years. They should now be appreciated by those who can afford to care for them.”
“This is a rare opportunity for other libraries and specialist collectors to get their hands on rare, antiquarian books and for the library service to raise some funds.”
The council added that none of the books relate directly to the county’s history or heritage and letters have been sent to the county’s main museums alerting them to the opportunity of the sale.
Elsewhere in the book section, a letter written and signed by King George III, and dated 1795, is expected to achieve between £500 and £700.
The letter reads: “The King directs Gorton to have a dinner prepared in Prince Edward’s apartment at St. James’s this day for the Princess of Brunswick. She will arrive before four there – he is to order a chaise-marine to be sent off to Greenwich to receive her S Highness’s baggage….”
And a colour engraving of the same king is expected to attract bids of £800 to £1,200. Entitled The King of Brobdingnag and Gulliver, the caricature, after the artist James Gillray, depicts King George III holding spy glass to his eye to examine a Lilliputian Napoleon whom he holds in the palm of his hand.
Another king – this time Charles II – features in a portrait attributed to the School of Sir Peter Lely. Bearing a striking resemblance to the famous 1675 portrait that hangs at Euston Hall in Suffolk, the 122cm-tall oil painting should command bids of between £5,000 and £8,000.
Among the speculative lots, a 25cm-wide oil on board from the 18th Century Continental School of the nativity scene is expected to achieve between £500 and £800, while Family of the Satyr at Play, an unsigned oil on canvas in the manner of Filippo Lauri should make between £1,500 and £2,000.
There are high hopes for naïve studies of cattle, after a painting of a cow sold for £10,500 at Moore Allen & Innocent’s picture sale back in December 2012. The best of the herd is A Horned Cow in a Stable Interior, dated 1847 and signed by W Luker. A bid of £1,000 to £1,500 should secure the lot.
And among the stable of modern artists is Henry Lawrence Faulkner, whose Flying Goat with Deer and Goats Grazing in a Hilltop Landscape should achieve £1,000 to £1,500, as should one of the smallest pictures in the sale – Construction II, a pen and ink study by the modern artist John Piper.
For a full auction catalogue, log on to http://www.mooreallen.co.uk