Robert Boyle's Sceptical Chymist realises 417% increase

A rare first edition copy of Robert Boyle's The Sceptical Chymist (1661) has sold for £362,500 ($539,363) at Bonhams London.

The lot headlined the sale of the Hugh Selbourne collection on March 25, achieving an increase of 417% on a £70,000 ($104,153) estimate.

Chemist Boyle Bonhams
Robert Boyle was a pioneering 17th century scientist

Bonhams explained it was "the first book that combined chemistry with physics and paved the way for the work of Isaac Newton and, 200 years later, Antoine Lavoisier.

"In it, Boyle postulated the then revolutionary theory that matter was composed of atoms and clusters of atoms in motion and that every phenomenon was the result of the collision of particles in motion…

"The Sceptical Chymist was the highest selling lot in the sale of the Library of the late Dr. Hugh Selbourne who assembled one of the finest private collection of books of the mid-20th century while practicing as a physician in Manchester."

An inscribed first edition copy of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species also sold well, achieving £98,500 ($146,558) against a valuation of £70,000 ($104,153)

Matthew Haley, Bonhams' head of books, commented: "Hugh Selbourne was a remarkable man who assembled one the finest private collection of books I've ever seen. The interest in the sale and the prices achieved are a testimony to his great taste and judgment."

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