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The Compleat Auctioneer, by (BIBLIOPHILY) - First printing. - 1700] - from BATTLEDORE LTD (SKU: BB001)

The Compleat Auctioneer,

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The Compleat Auctioneer,: the EARLIEST IMAGE OF A BOOK AUCTION broadside, circa 1700,


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Kingston, New York
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About This Item

The Compleat Auctioneer, circa 1700, uncolored engraving of a book auctioneer standing behind a stall of books, with two ladies and two gentlemen beside him, and a tree behind, the tree bearing a printed notice 'A Choice Collection of Books being the Library of the late famous Unborn Doctor, are to be put to Sale this Day and to continue untill all be Sold, at Mr L-GS Auction in the North West Corner of Middle Moorfields. Cattalogues may be had at most of the eminent Booksellers in the four Quarters of Moorfeilds Gratis, the Books may be Seen before or at the time of Sale', the whole set within a 19th century black and gilt moulded frame, glazed.

Rare. The earliest known representation of a book auction. The table of books on display include many bawdy titles of the restoration era, such as 'Sch: of Venus', 'Aratines Post.', 'Play of Sodom', 'Poems by the R H the E[arl] of R[ochester], alongside standard medical works of the period, 'Culp Midw', 'Artist[otles] Mast[erpiece]', and other various titles including 'Don Quixot', 'Og[ilby] America' (also his Roads Africa and Asia), 'Heylins Cos[mography]'. Below the image is printed 8 lines of verse: 'Come Sirs, and view this famous Library, 'Tis pity Learning shou'd discourag'd be: Here's bookes (that is, if they were but well Sold) I will maintain't are worth their weight in Gold Then bid apace and break me out of hand: Ne'er cry you don't the Subject understand: For this I'll say - howe'er the Case may hit, Whoever buys of me, - I teach 'em Wit.'

Book auctions first became popular in the Low Countries, where Lodewijk Elzevier was granted permission to hold them in The Hague in 1596. The first recorded book auction in England was held in London in 1676, when the library of the clergyman Lazarus Seaman was put up for sale at his own house. This print, however, is the very first pictorial representation of a book auction. Its engraver Sutton Nicholls was a printseller, draughtsman and globemaker who worked for various map publishers: Philip Lea, Robert Morden, Edward Wells, Henry Overton, Thomas and John Bowles, &c.

British Museum, Personal and Political Satires 1415. Provenance: Library of Martin Orskey (Dominic Winter, June 2019) = Sold for £18,500 hammer + premium and internet fees (approx. US$30,000)


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Seller's Inventory #
The Compleat Auctioneer,
Illustrated broadside
Engraved sheet with two short closed-tears to margins (repaired), plate size 27.5 x 18.5 cm (10.75 x 7.25 ins) with margins,
Book condition
First printing.
created by Sutton Nicholls (1668-1729), signed in the plate lower right, otherwise no imprint,
Place of Publication
[London, circa
Date Published
Page size 28.5 x 20 cm (11.25 x
broadside, auction, book, auctioneer,
Bookseller catalogs
Antiquarian, Rare & Collectible Books;
Page size 28.5 x 20 cm (11.25 x 7.75 in).

Terms of Sale


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About the Seller


Seller rating:
This seller has earned a 5 of 5 Stars rating from Biblio customers. member since 2020
Kingston, New York
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Founded in 1988, Battledore has been promoting children's books and related references/bibliographies through catalogues, by direct mail, online internet sales and special exhibitions, including the annual ABAA Antiquarian Rare Books Fair in New York City (Park Avenue Armory at 67th Street). Since 2002 we have maintained a "by appointment" store front gallery in Kingston NY that is fully operational. For scheduling a visit to discuss collection development, please email us at The President of Battledore Ltd has represented Maurice Sendak as liaison for private collectors and institutions worldwide from 1970 thru 2003 and continues to maintain a fine inventory of his original artwork along with curated selections of original illustration art for children's books by other well-recognized artists and illustrators.


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