Designs for the Thames Tunnel, signed by Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, sold for £200,000 at Bonhams Fine Books, Atlases, Manuscripts and Photographs Sale in London on Wednesday 15 November. The archive, which came with the signed Brunel family album in which the drawings were originally kept, had been estimated at £50,000-100,000.
Built between 1825 and 1837, the Thames Tunnel - which connects Rotherhithe and Limehouse in East London - was the first ever successful underwater tunnel. The techniques pioneered by the Brunels revolutionised tunnelling and had a significant impact on the development of the London Underground - indeed they were still influential in the construction of the Channel Tunnel in the late 1980s. The Thames Tunnel remains in daily use, 180 years after its completion, as part of the London Overground rail network.
Bonhams Head of Books and Manuscripts, Matthew Haley, said: “This was a very important archive of what was described at the time as ‘The Eighth Wonder of the World’, and is still regarded as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century. The high price paid reflects its huge significance.”
The sale made a total of £1,716,175 with premium.
Sale: Fine Books, Atlases, Manuscripts and Photographs
Location: Bonhams Knightsbridge
Date: Wednesday 15 November at 1.00 pm
Specialist: Matthew Haley, Head of Books and Manuscripts