Rare book collection goes under the hammer

Last updated at 17:42 01 March 2007

A collection of rare books, including Darwin's On The Origin Of Species and a first edition of the nation's favourite Pride And Prejudice, is set to raise £500,000 when it goes under the hammer.

Pride and Prejudice is nation's favourite read

The auction at Duke's of Dorchester, in Dorset, includes first editions of books by Isaac Newton, Jane Austen, rare copies of Charles Dickens and limited edition prints of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

It is thought to be the largest book auction outside of London in recent times.

It features two major collections, including the Newton library which was started by Sir Henry Newton in 1920 and continued by his family until 2000.

Guy Schwinge of Duke's said: "He was lucky to be buying at a time when the supply of rare books was abundant, and he recorded many of his most important purchases in a book of letters to his son.

"He records buying the first edition of Euclid's Elements, the foundation of geometry printed in Venice by Erhard Ratdolt in 1482, from the London firm Maggs in the 1920s for £60.

"While he acknowledged that Maggs had made a handsome profit of £20 on the book, his family is likely to make a handsomer one: the book is now estimated at between £20,000 and £40,000."

Other books being sold from this collection included a first edition of Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica, from 1687, estimated to sell for £30,000 to £40,000, and a copy of Darwin's On The Origin Of Species, printed in 1859, estimated at £30,000 to £50,000.

"Newton's copy of this is one of the great prizes of the collection, in remarkably good unrestored original condition: its estimate is £30,000 to £50,000," said Mr Schwinge.

A first edition of Austen's Pride And Prejudice, recently voted by book lovers as Britain's favourite read, is expected to reach up to £12,000.

The author's less popular Mansfield Park is priced at £2,000 to £3,000.

A rare copy of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, dated 1861 and in its original cloth, is also up for sale during the auction on March 8.

Other books being sold include first editions of Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels - both estimated to sell for up to £10,000 each.

"The major book of the 20th century in the collection is the Subscribers' Edition of TE Lawrence's Seven Pillars Of Wisdom, a fine copy, estimated to fetch between £12,000 and £20,000," said Mr Schwinge.

The second collection belonged to the late Jean Preston of Oxford and includes a rare copy of William Morris's Kelmscott Press edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, printed in 1897, in the original pigskin binding.

"Only 48 copies were made and it is estimated to go at between £30,000 and £40,000," said Mr Schwinge.

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