Anti-slavery campaigner's letters abolish estimate to sell for £86k
Bonhams' book and autograph sale this week produced some excellent results not just for books, (which we reported), but also autographs.

The autographs which we focussed on included two letters by Charles Darwin. One of these, his letter to a politician regarding a bill on vivisection sold on target at £4,320.

However, the significance of his second letter, in which he frets that America is so keen to publish his famous work that he has no time to get through the necessary corrections, doubled its lower estimate of £10,000 to sell for £21,600.

Henry VII's letter requesting aid in the upcoming battle with Scotland did better still, nearly doubling its top estimate of £10,000 to be taken home for £19,200.

Canada Prime Minister John MacDonald
Canada's first PM John MacDonald's letter

A great surprise was the bidding war started over the first Prime Minister of Canada, John MacDonald's late 19th century letters. These were only valued at a mere £5,000-8,000, but their importance to Canadian history was obviously noted by more than one bidder.

The quick fire bidding eventually concluded with the letters going under the hammer for £25,200.

This was trivialised by the top lot however. The extraordinary collection of letters belonging to Thomas Walker signed by many greats of the 18-19th centuries, notably signer of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Paine, scientist Joseph Priestly, abolitionist Thomas Clarkson and writer Thomas Hardy.

Letter Thomas Paine
Letter written to Thomas Walker by Thomas Paine

Already recognised as hugely valuable in the £30,000-40,000 listing, bidders still thought the texts were undervalued and pressed on past £50,000, £60,000 and £70,000 to finally sell for a stunning £86,400.



The strong showing for the best pieces in both the books and autographs sections of the auction shows the strength of the high-end collectibles market.

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