Printed Books, Manuscripts and Maps | Highlights to include rare Local Aviation Ephemera and an early Book on Witchcraft

29 June 2021

Bellmans is set to sell an exceptionally rare menu celebrating a landmark in British aviation - the first flight from London to Brighton. The dinner recorded in the menu, hosted by local businessman and keen supporter of aviation Harry Preston, commemorates the first flight from London to Brighton which was taken by Oscar Morison in his Bleriot XI monoplane. Flying from Brooklands Aerodrome, near Weybridge, on the 15th February 1911 (taking off at 3.50 pm), he crash-landed on Brighton beach at “Banjo Groyne” at 4.55 pm. He was unharmed and attended the dinner in his honour just five days later. The broken propeller from the flight has recently found a new home in Brighton Museum. The printed menu and toast list with pictorial cover is signed by both Morison and Preston and a third unidentified signatory and is expected to fetch £200 - £300 in the auction of printed books and manuscripts on Thursday, 15th July at the Sussex auction house.

Compiled in the late 15th Century by Dominican inquisitors, the Malleus maleficarum (literally, the ‘hammer of witches’) is the best known of the earliest treatises on witchcraft. The first printed edition appeared in Strasbourg in 1486, Bellmans is offering an edition from 1588, but only one of the two volumes is included and it carries an estimate of £500 - £800. Montague Summers wrote: “There can be no doubt that this work had in its day and for a full couple of centuries an enormous influence. There are few demonologists and writers upon witchcraft who do not refer to its pages as an ultimate authority. It was continually quoted and appealed to in witch-trials."

Another unusual lot is Robert Willis's book An Attempt to Analyse the Automaton Chess Player of Mr. de Kempelen from 1821. This first edition describes how Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804) first displayed his celebrated “Automaton Chess Player” (or “The Mechanical Turk”) in 1770. Other highlights also include a modern first edition included of Virginia Woolf's (1882-1941) The Common Reader and a Catalogue of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain in the Collection of Sir Percival David by Robert Lockhart Hobson (1872-1941) including 180 photographed plates, most printed in colour and with an estimate of £1,000 - £1,500.

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