Sporting volumes in demand at auction

Sporting books were definitely the theme of the day in Tennants Auctioneers’ Book Sale on 29th November, with volumes on Mountaineering, Greyhound Coursing, Racing and Cricket all selling strongly.

Catching international attention was a collection of books from the Mountaineering Library of the Late Walt Unsworth, climber, author and publisher, described by The Times as the ‘Father of outdoor writing’. This specialist collection provided one of the top lots of the day, a fascinating collection of annotated photographs detailing the exploits of mountaineer and school master R. L. G. Irving (1877-1969). Passionate mountaineer Robert Lock Graham Irving was a master at Winchester College, where in addition to teaching French and Mathematics he founded the Winchester Ice (Mountaineering) Club. One of the early members of the Winchester Ice Club was none other than George Mallory (1886-1924), who disappeared on an attempt to be the first to ascend Everest in 1924. The albums sold for £3,800.

However, it was a family archive of photographs, record and account books, hunting diaries and press cuttings that caused the biggest stir in the saleroom. The archive came from Shortflatt Tower in Northumberland, home of Edward Dent, breeder and trainer of Fullerton, arguably the greatest coursing greyhound of all time and three time winner of the Waterloo Cup. The lot included Dent’s training notes, along with family scrapbooks and an interesting collection of photographs recording a military tour of India during World War I by W. E. Dent. The lot was bought by (in his own words) ‘a no-nonsense northerner’, who commented that “It’s a jolly good, interesting lot that you’ll never see again – family archives like this are so rarely seen. You can’t easily find a collection of this quality or interest’. The lot sold for £8,200.

Elsewhere in the sale, a rare 1997 first edition of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ by J.K. Rowling sold for £13,000, and a leather-bound folio album of twenty-two beautifully detailed ink and watercolour illustrations of Italian provincial costume by Saviero Xavier Della Gatta from the early 19th century sold for £7,800.

Books of mining interest also drew in bidders from across the world, with one particular lot which included J.H. Curle’s ‘The Gold Mines of the World’ from 1899 selling for £3,600. Auctioneer Steve Stockton commented, ‘I knew the mining lots would do well, as there had been significant interest from mining enthusiasts, who were looking to add to their own private collections and to aid their personal research and studies’.

The sale resulted in a total hammer price of £104,520 with 89% of the 216 lots sold.

We are currently accepting lots for the next sale of Books, Maps, Prints & Manuscripts on 7th March 2018, please contact us on 01969 623780 or enquiry@tennants-ltd.co.uk for details.

Full results are available here



An Illustration from Costumi Italiani by Saviero Xavier Della Gatta – Sold for £7,800
(top left) George Mallory on Torven Ridge: Photograph from a lot comprising photographs and diary of mountaineer R.L.G. Irving – Sold for £3,800