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Bonhams - Papers & Portraits: The Roy Davids Collection Part II

decoration29 March 2011

503 lots of manuscripts and portraits with many considerable rarities including a letter of Keats to Fanny Brawne, a four-page essay by William Blake, an English manuscript by Isaac Newton, one of two autograph letters by Walter Raleigh ever likely to come on the market, a 12-page letter of Livingstone from Africa to the Prime Minister about an expedition, a letter by Louisa May Alcott with allusions to Little Women, signed photographs of Walt Whitman and other American authors.

"For many academics the text is often everything, but for established collectors, more or less depending on the richness of their imaginations and the acuity of their sensibilities, there are other reasons for collecting than the textual content alone. It nonetheless needs to be emphasised that, whether published or not, the subject matter of a manuscript is an essential part of the mix in stimulating the fancy; indeed the more interesting the content, the greater the rewards – intellectual, aesthetic, emotional and financial – that a manuscript is likely to provide. Indeed, I have made a particular point of collecting items with good content or that relate to significant events or themes, rrespective of their importance in other terms. It is the visual and affective sides of manuscripts that are often forgotten, or not realised."

(An Introduction to 'Papers & Portraits: The Roy Davids Collection Part II', by Roy Davids)

"Roy Davids, whose collection is now being offered at Bonhams, is the consummate collector, who has gathered fascinating items that bring the holder to a richer idea of persons and circumstances than the content of the pieces alone."

(Paul Fraser Collectibles)

Roy Davids, retired member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA), was educated at London University, where he specialised in Sicilian and Byzantine history. After teaching, historical research, working on the History of Parliament Trust writing short biographies of 16th century Members of Parliament and for the scholar-booksellers Ted Hofmann and Arthur Freeman, he joined Sotheby’s in 1970 as a cataloguer of post-Mediaeval manuscripts, headed the Department from 1975 and also the Book Department from 1982 to 1994. He was additionally head of Marketing and Communications and latterly company Strategist at Sotheby’s. He ran his own business as a dealer in manuscripts and portraits of writers, artists and musicians. He has been involved in the sale by private treaty, mostly after leaving Sotheby’s, of the papers and archives of Sir Winston Churchill, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, John Osborne, Edna O’Brien, George MacBeth, John Linnell, Peter Redgrove, Siegfried Sassoon, Douglas Dunn, John Wyndham, Tom Paulin, Julian Barnes, Alan Sillitoe and a number of series of letters by Ted Hughes. He has also personally collected portraits (sold at Bonhams as Creative Encounters in 2005, a combination of his private and trading collections, and the first significant London sale solely of the genre), and also poetical and prose manuscripts, porcelain, as well as Arts and Crafts and Gothic Revival furniture and objects. A small volume of his poems was published under the title White Noise in 2006, and a collection titled The Double-Ended Key in 2011. He is also author (with Dominic Jellinek) of Provenance: Collectors, Dealers and Scholars in the Field of Chinese Ceramics in Britain and America, 2011, and of a number of articles about manuscripts and Ted Hughes.

>>> Auction catalogue

>>> 'Manuscripts bring history home to us'... a look at the Roy Davids collection

>>> UK: Bonhams Roy Davids Collection (Sheppard's Confidential)


29 March 2011
New Bond Street
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