Auctions | May 14, 2018

First Ever Printed Book on Agriculture Goes on View at the ABA Fair in London Prior to Auction at Forum

Ruralia copy.jpgForum Auctions is delighted to announce the forthcoming auction of The Rothamsted Collection, comprising the rare book collection of the Lawes Agricultural Library. The Collection was assembled during the inter-war years by Sir John Russell, a former Director of Rothamsted Research, which is the longest-running scientific research station of its type in the world and home to the world’s oldest continuously running scientific experiment (currently in its 175th year). The collection includes some important medieval manuscripts and a comprehensive range of printed books from 1471-1840 on the subject of agriculture in its broadest sense. In total there are over 3,000 volumes, with a selection of highlights detailed below.

The Augsburg-printed 1471 edition of Crescentiis’ Ruralia Commoda is the landmark first ever printed book on agriculture (Est.£60,000-80,000) - originally written in about 1300 by Pietro Crescentio, a Bolognese lawyer, it covers viticulture, horticulture, husbandry, hunting and fishing. Amongst the many incunabula are a further six editions of the same work in various languages.  The 16th and 17th centuries are profusely represented by both Continental and English books, many with distinguished provenances including multiple editions of works by Markham, Tusser, Fitzherbert, Hartlib and Leigh.

There are many further exceptional rarities such as Monardes’ Joyfull Newes out of the New-found Worlde, 1580 (Est.£10,000-15,000) - one of the earliest books to describe the cultivation of rhubarb, ginger and quinine, as well as having extensive references to tobacco and nicotine; many works on bees, economics, social history, architecture and landscape gardening, veterinary science, early herbals and no fewer than 8 editions of Tull’s Horse-hoeing husbandry. Many of the great early printers are also represented - including several examples of Estienne and Aldus Manutius, plus a myriad of more obscure English provincially-printed works. Preceding the printed books are significant manuscripts by Walter of Henley (14th century on estate management) (Est.£10,000-15,000) and Palladius from the 15th century.

The auction will be held on 10th July at The Westbury Hotel on Mayfair’s Conduit Street where Forum holds its bi-monthly fine sales. Viewing of the collection commences during the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA) annual fair (May 24th - 26th), which is coincidentally being held in Battersea Park, a stone’s throw from Forum’s offices. The auction promises to be one of 2018’s landmark bibliophile sales and is tipped to raise in excess of £1,000,000.

Image: Ruralia commoda, [Speier, Peter Drach, c.1490-1495]. The first illustrated edition with over 300 woodcuts, a few of which are coloured by a contemporary hand. Est. £20,000-30,000.