£300,000 for secret meetings between the British and Saudis

Last week, Sotheby's held sale of books and manuscripts centred on Travel and Natural History.

The 178 lot auction was a great success. Amongst the most successful of the texts on offer was a three file collection of British official papers recording the negotiations between Sir Gilbert Clayton and King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud.

The main point of interest in the documents is their references to the border dispute regarding Iraq, providing a unique and detailed insight into Anglo-Saudi relations in the years immediately preceding the foundation of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The 322 page archive included detailed reports by Clayton on his twelve meetings with the King in Jeddah between 8 and 20 May, and three further meetings between 1 and 3 August, typescripts with a small number of manuscript corrections, 64 pages and four letters by Ibn Saud with the royal seal, with English translations, to the British Consul at Jeddah.

Archive Saudi Correspondence Clayton Iraq
British/Saudi Correspondence (Click to enlarge)

Given a guide price of £70,000-100,000, the unique piece of diplomatic history was valued much more highly by the bidding audience and was buffeted all the way up to £301,250.

Meanwhile, William Bradford's first edition of The Arctic Regions, which we took a look at before the sale, sold at £79,250, towards the high end of its expected price range - another highlight of this £1.7m sale.

Collectors interested in manuscripts documenting diplomatic efforts may wish to take a look at Henry VIII's letter to try to arrange his (first) divorce.


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