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Christie's to Offer a Selection of Items from the Marylebone Cricket Club Collections
James Dance Cricket. An Heroic Poem, London (1744). Estimate: £10,000-15,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2010.


NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced a major event in bibliographical history – the sale of a selection of items from one of the world’s most famous sporting establishments, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). The auction of Sporting Books at South Kensington on 17 November 2010 will offer a unique opportunity to own a prestigious piece of cricketing history presenting a carefully curated selection of 100 lots. Estimates range from £500 to £40,000, and the collection as a whole is expected to realise over £300,000. All lots to be offered at Christie’s are duplicate items from the collections, and proceeds will be used by MCC to sustain and care for the core collections and facilitate further strengthening through acquisitions.

Curator of MCC Collections, Adam Chadwick comments, “MCC Collections continue to attract an increasing number of admirers and in 2009 we set a record having welcomed 60,000 people through the doors. We are committed in our aim to continue developing the accessibility of the collections, and to maintaining them as the world’s most important celebration of the history of cricket. Following advice from the Arts & Library Committee, the MCC Committee has authorised the sale of a number of duplicate items from the collections. The majority of items will come from the MCC Library collection and we are pleased to offer international cricket enthusiasts, as well as MCC members, the opportunity to bid on items from the library at Lord’s. The proceeds will provide MCC with the much needed funds required to enhance and conserve the core collection.”

A familiar sight for any Lord’s visitor is a portrait of The Young Cricketer – Portrait of Lewis Cage by Katharine Lloyd, which has hung in the Pavilion at Lord’s for the past 60 years (estimate: £4,000-6,000). The charming portrait is after an original by Francis Cotes R.A and was commissioned to coincide with the opening of the Lord’s Museum in the 1950s. It is offered by MCC following their recent acquisition of the original portrait.

The first independent works on cricket ever published were verse accounts of cricket matches, mock heroic poems in the genre established by Alexander Pope’s Rape of the Lock (1714). Highlights of the MCC duplicate sale include not only the first of these humorous poems, James Dance’s Cricket. An Heroic Poem, London [1744] (estimate: £10,000-15,000), but also three other rare cricket poems which appeared as 18th-century pamphlets. John Duncombe’s Surry Triumphant and John Burnby’s Kentish Cricketers were both written by clergymen and both published in 1773, and MCC are offering a magnificent volume, in which these two poems are bound together (estimate: £18,000-25,000). The fourth of these 18th-century poems is the anonymous The Noble Cricketers … addresss’d to Two of the Idlest Lords in His Majesty’s Kingdom (1778), a satire on two famously indolent, cricket-loving aristocrats, the Duke of Dorset and the Earl of Tankerville, who were accused of preferring to play cricket while England was losing the war against the American colonies (estimate: £7,000-10,000).

Further highlights include a complete set of Wisden’s almanack which has been in print since 1864. Also on offer will be all of Wisden’s important, if less well known predecessors, most notably three editions of the rare scorebooks produced by Samuel Britcher (1792, 1793 and 1796) (estimates: £40,000-60,000, £40,000-60,000 and £20,000-30,000 respectively). The importance of these works is highlighted by the fact that their author, Britcher, was an official scorer for Marylebone Cricket Club, and the first person to produce an annual scorebook on a regular basis.

Of probably even greater rarity is William Epps’s Cricket. A Collection of All the Grand Matches played in England from 1771 to 1791, published in Rochester, Kent, in 1799 (estimate: £50,000-70,000). Considered by many as the most important historical publication on cricket in the later 18th century, this was intended to supplement the publications of Britcher which ran from 1790 to 1805, and was compiled from the manuscripts of noblemen such as the Duke of Dorset and Earl of Tankerville.






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