A handful of unknown, rare and largely forgotten texts have been uncovered by specialists at Christie's
cataloguing a library formed by three generations of a prominent family from the north-west of England. Stored in the principal rooms of a grand country house, the 375 lots of books and manuscripts were acquired by successive generations of the Bright, Thompson and Yates Families from the start of the 1800s until the 1940s. This remarkable collection entitled Yates, Thompson and Bright: A Family of Bibliophiles includes a handful of books that were unknown or of which only incomplete versions were previously known. Also comprising the most important private collection of emblem books ever formed, highlights include books and manuscripts from England, France, Austria, Italy, Spain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands dating from the mid-13th to the mid-20th Century. The auction will be held in London on July 16 and is expected to sell for around £3million.
Thomas Venning, Head of Christie's Book Department in London, commented: We are incredibly fortunate to have been able to handle, for a short time, this unique library which is a testament to the power of images in books from the illuminated manuscripts to the definitive library of emblem books, this collection has great visual appeal. The public viewing will give us all a last glimpse into this remarkable succession of men who inherited a passion for books and manuscripts from one another. Their importance will perhaps only be properly recognised after the sale when we have all had a chance to absorb the discoveries made and the provenances revealed which so far include Charles II, the King of Naples and the highest ranks of the French nobility.
The family were part of the mercantile, banking and shipping elite in Liverpool and their interest in book collecting began with Joseph Brook Yates (1780- 1855) who, in 1812, was one of the founders of the Liverpool Literary and Philosophical Society. He left his books to his grandsons, the eldest of whom Henry Yates Thompson (1836-1928) was bequeathed the rich store of ten medieval manuscripts and the second, Samuel Ashton Thompson Yates (1842-1903) was a curate in Lytham and founded the Thompson-Yates medical laboratory at Liverpool University with almost 2,000 research volumes. The collection then passed to Allan Heywood Bright (1862-1941) who had lived at Thingwall Hall in Knotty Ash (his portrait shown here). His father was an antiquarian and scholar and a close friend of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Most recently the books were in the family home in Herefordshire where they were kept in the principal rooms, including the library. Whilst the family were aware that the library included some important works, no-one was prepared for the re-discoveries made during the cataloguing process. They had remained largely undisturbed since Allan Heywood Bright's death 70 years ago.
THE MISSAL OF LUDWIG OF TECK A PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN WORK BY THE MASTER OF THE PRAYERBOOK OF ALBRECHT V, DUKE OF AUSTRIA and the only one in private hands Vienna, c.1430-35
THE COMPLETE SERIES OF 13 ORIGINAL DRAWINGS FOR THE EMBLEMATA EVANGELICA BY HANS BOL Illustrations of the 12 months in the series denoted by zodiac signs and the original frontispiece, with religious scenes depicted in Flemish landscape
LEONARDO BRUNI, HISTOIRE DE LA PREMIERE GUERRE PUNIQUE Paris, c.1450 A 15th C HUMANIST UNDERSTANDING OF THE CLASSICAL WORLD With rich illuminations including the Carthaginians riding elephants
THE MIRROR OF RECLUSES IN MIDDLE ENGLISH England, c.1414-1422 The only complete copy of the text and providing the date it was composed (the incomplete version is in the British Library)
EDITIO PRINCEPS OF THE WORKS OF PLATO BOUND FOR KING CHARLES II De-accessioned in 19th century by what is now the British Library
JOHN DEE, THE PERFECT ARTE OF NAVIGATION London, 1577 A rare coloured copy of the first work to use the term "Brytish Impire‟ and proposing the taxation of foreign fishermen in British waters, with Dee's coded signature