A long time ago, when our little bookshop was just finding its feet and we were wondering how we would ever keep all our shelves fully stocked we received a large donation of books of all shapes and sizes, ages and colours. As we tried to sort though and price them as quickly as possible there were a few that I thought looked a little different so I put them aside for our fledgling specialist book team to have a look at.
At the distance of many months, I couldn’t possibly say what those books were except for one, a copy of Handel’s opera Semele with a dedication from ‘The King’ dated 1788. The King in question being George III. I have to admit that when I first came across this I thought it was some kind of bizarre hoax and put it to one side hoping that it would somehow sell itself. Thankfully, I have a team of dedicated (and nosy!) volunteers who happily spent many hours on the internet doing the necessary research. They starting badgering me about it and producing reams of biographical data on the recipient of the book, Judith Milbanke, wife of Sir Ralph Milbanke, mother-in-law of Lord Byron.
Eventually, we got organised and sent the details off to our Valued team who advise on expensive and unusual things such as this. They got back to us very quickly, letting us know that Bonhams were interested. Now, many months after that hectic day trying to sort through boxes and boxes of books, Bonhams are auctioning it off for us. It is exciting to think how far we have come and how much we have learnt since we found this book. I can’t wait to see how much it raises!