Owzat! 'Bible of Cricket' sells for £90k

Bonhams held a very successful auction of rare books yesterday, with several of the best lots exceeding their estimates.

A formerly undiscovered secret attempt at playwriting by Lord Edward Herbert of Cherbury, the 17th century philosopher, came close to its top estimate. The Amazon, presented in a similar style to a Shakespearian romance, commanded a healthy £84,000.

Ladies' man Herbert was the brother of poet George Herbert and knew the famous playwright Ben Jonson - but his writings had previously been thought only to consist of philosophy and an autobiography.

All the works described in our previous article sold for their estimate price or more. Carl Lepsius's work on Egypt, Keats's Endymion and Shelley's Queen Mab sold for £21,600, £4,080 and £6,600 respectively - all right on target.

Some works did better still, however. The two James Bond books shot past their estimates with the presentation first edition of Diamonds are Forever tripling its top estimate of £5,000 to sell for £15,600.

Diamonds Are Forever First Edition James Bond
Diamonds Are Forever, First Edition

Fleming's annotated typescript of the same work, the only typescript of a Bond book in private hands, valued at £20,000-30,000, likewise sparked some intense competition amongst Bond lovers to be taken home for a stunning £62,400.

The eventual top lot at the sale also represented a once in a lifetime opportunity for a book collector: this time for cricket lovers.

Wisden cricket
Editions of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack (£90k)

A complete run of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack for the years 1864 to 1984, handsomely bound and in fine condition, was the top lot in this sale, pressing past its estimate of £50,000-70,000 to a stunning £90,000.

Without doubt the most famous sports reference work ever published, the Cricketers' Almanack, or "Bible of Cricket" as it has become known, was founded in 1864 by the cricketer John Wisden (1826-1884) as a competitor to Fred Lillywhite's The Guide to Cricketers.

Its publication has continued uninterrupted to the present day, under only 15 different editors in its entire 140 years.

Overall, the sale was an excellent day for rare book collectors, and proof that treasured and carefully kept works can also be a beautiful form of investment.

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