Saturday 15 April 2017

Tracing the Present Whereabouts

In a previous post I mentioned some cuttings from an early 15th-century Parisian Book of Hours, each with a miniature in the style of Jacquemart de Hesdin. I took the reproduction above from the 1983 Sotheby's catalogue in which they were last sold, as lot 99.

A reader contacted me to ask if I knew where they are now, and I didn't. But I thought that it ought to be possible to work it out.

Until 1995, after each sale, people who subscribed to Sotheby's catalogues were mailed a list of the prices and buyers' names (from 1996 only the prices, not the names, are published). For anyone with an interest in the history of the buying and collecting of medieval manuscripts, these lists of names are fascinating and informative.
[click to enlarge]

Taking as an example the auction in which the Jacquemart miniatures were sold, if we just look at the top of the page, we see that the "Buyer's premium" in 1983 was 10%, and so we can work out, for example, that lot 1 had a hammer price of £9,500 (9500 + 10% = 10450). We see the names of some very familiar dealers such as Maggs and Quaritch, still in business, and several that are no longer trading, such as Beres and Lubin, as well as some private collectors such as Jossi and Hanna. We can also see,  by their omission from the price-list, which items failed to sell (lots 3, 7, etc.).

These price-lists often do not identify all the buyers directly, because some had a dealer bid on their behalf, or because they registered to bid under a pseudonym. The price-list for the 1983 sale shows that lot 99 (the three Jacquemart miniatures) was bought by "York". It is not a name I recognise, but I did not become interested in manuscripts until many years later, so perhaps this was a well-known buyer in the 1980s. "York" also bought lot 58, as can be seen in the detail above, and lot 47, as can be seen below:

Lots 47 and 58 are double-sided miniatures from the Burckhardt-Wildt Apocalypse, of which I have compiled a list here. My list does not identify "York", but it does indicate that lots 47 and 58 were both given to the Hill Monastic Manuscripts Library (HMML) by Mr and Mrs Atherton Bean. A search of the HMML website reveals that the Jacquemart cuttings are there as well:

It is not clear whether "York" was a private collector who later sold his purchases to the Beans; whether he was a dealer; or whether he was the pseudonym of the Beans themselves, but for our present purposes -- tracing the present whereabouts of the cuttings -- it does not matter.

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