A book-sale at Sotheby’s Auction-room.

Large engraving of a book auction at Sotheby’s, London. Most of the buyers present can be identified as the principal antiquarian booksellers of their day (See key not available for sale). The scene represented by our artist in the engraving … Read Full Description

$A 245

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S/N: TG-BI-ENG-880526548–390394
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Full Title:

A book-sale at Sotheby’s Auction-room.






In good condition, with centre fold as issued.



Image Size: 

x 305mm

Paper Size: 

x 350mm
A book-sale at Sotheby's Auction-room. - Antique Print from 1888

Genuine antique



Large engraving of a book auction at Sotheby’s, London. Most of the buyers present can be identified as the principal antiquarian booksellers of their day (See key not available for sale).

The scene represented by our artist in the engraving will probably be unfamiliar to the majority of our readers.  It represents the interior of Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge’s Sale Room, at No. 13, Wellington Street, Strand, during one of their interesting sales of valuable books, and contains characteristic portraits of the principal London dealers and others who are in the habit of attending the sales held there.  Although books, of course, take the prominent place at these sales, the rooms are not exclusively devoted to them; sales of rare prints, autograph letters, coins, and other articles of antiquarian interest being of frequent occurrence.  The order of procedure is generally after the following: –  Soon after one o’clock p.m., the auctioneer takes his place in the rostrum, and business commences. The first lot is placed upon the table and examined, and is immediately bid for by one of those present; should it happen to be of value a brisk competition for its possession at once arises, and the bids follow one another in quick succession till it is ultimately knocked down to the highest bidder.

The auctioneer depicted in the engraving as officiating on the present occasion is Mr. E. G. Hodge, of the above-mentioned well-known firm of literary auctioneers, who, attended by his clerk, Mr. Snowdon, is offering a quarto volume, which at the moment is being critically scrutinised by Mr. Reeves overlooked by Mr. Stibbs, two veteran booksellers; the lot is evidently of interest to Mr. Walford, seated upon the left of Mr. Stibbs, and who is keeping a sharp eye upon the auctioneer to see that his bidding is not overlooked. Mr. Quaritch, the Goliath of the trade, may be noticed in his usual well-chosen seat just beneath the auctioneer’s desk, but upon this occasion he is not wearing his wide-awake hat (or “buying hat”, as it is jocularly termed).  It is here that the books are usually placed upon the table by the porter who takes them from the shelves at the side, where they are replaced as soon as sold.  It is for this reason that most of the buyers collect at this spot, or are seated upon that side of the auction room. Mr. Hodge is a brisk and cheerful salesman, and keeps the attention of all the buyers well engaged from first to last (which is an essential point in a successful auctioneer), and consequently invariably obtains good prices for the goods he sells. The lots being put up and knocked down extremely rapidly it is very dangerous for any buyer to have his attention for an instant taken off the sale, as a slight inattention is frequently rewarded by the loss of a desirable book; instances of this kind often occur.

It is in this room that so many famous and historical libraries have been dispersed within the last few years. Among the principal may be enumerated the unrivalled Beckford and Hamilton Collections, which together realised upwards of £85,000; the Syston Park library, famous for its rare editions of the classics, its Gutenberg Bible, and Codex Psalter of 1459, the latter volume being remarkable as having realised the highest price of any single book that has ever been sold by auction, viz., £4,950; the Osterley Park Library, famous for its Caxtons, and many others too numerous for us to notice here.


Henry Marriott Paget (1856 - 1936)

Paget was a British painter and illustrator, who often signed his work "HMP".

View other items by Henry Marriott Paget

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