Zaehnsdorf Bindings, Fore-edge Paintings, and Extra-Illustrated Works at Final Christopher Foyle Library Sale
Following the £1m sale in September 2023 of the first portion of treasured texts collected by William and Christopher Foyle, Dominic Winter Auctioneers will present the second portion of the Foyle Library for sale by public auction on January 31.
While the first part was rich in illuminated Books of Hours and printed texts from the Renaissance and early modern period, this concluding portion lays stronger emphasis on the Georgian and Victorian eras. In addition to a further selection of early printed books, manuscripts, and medieval and later Essex documents, the lion’s share of the sale comprises books from the 19th and 20th centuries, in which the dominant theme is fine leather bindings bound by the illustrious names of Zaehnsdorf, Sangorski & Sutcliffe, Rivière, and Bayntun.
Within the catalogue are numerous books with fore-edge paintings, Cosway-style bindings with miniatures (mostly commissioned by William Foyle from Bayntun Riviere following the firms’ merger in 1939), and dozens of profusely extra-illustrated works. The extra illustrations comprise not only period and earlier engravings but watercolours and many notable autograph letters. One example is lot 252, a two-volume work of the life and adventures of the writer George Sala. It has been expanded into 9 volumes by the insertion over 300 autograph letters and countless portraits and views by the infamous book grangeriser Alexander Meyrick Broadley (1847-1916). Those featured include Mark Twain, Emile Zola, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas (Senior and Junior), Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Estimate £4,000 - £6,000.
William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens appear several times in the catalogue, in manuscript and print, as well as an intriguing contemporary oil portrait of the young Charles Dickens (estimate: £1,000 - £1,500), and an oil version of the Chandos portrait of Shakespeare, formerly belonging to the famous Shakespeare collector, the Earl of Warwick (estimate: £1,000 - £1,500).
The sale concludes with library furniture from the Foyle library at Beeleigh Abbey and, as the tail-piece to the Foyle Library auction story, a fine marble bust of Shakespeare after Roubiliac.
Christopher Foyle, entrepreneur, philanthropist and moderniser of Foyle’s famous bookshop in London’s Charing Cross Road, died in August 2022. He was the grandson of William Foyle, the bookshop’s co-founder. When his aunt Christina died in 1999 and left instructions that her grandfather’s Library should be sold, Christopher and his wife Cathy took the decision to buy back as much of the Library as they could before it went up for sale. Christopher was particularly keen to recover items which had a close association with his beloved grandfather.