Peerless history collection to go under hammer

An exceptional set of extra-illustrated books dating from 1798 with a pre-sale estimate of £10,000-£

An exceptional set of extra-illustrated books dating from 1798 with a pre-sale estimate of £10,000-£12,000, - Credit: Newman Associates PR

One of the biggest country house sales in recent years is to take place in September – with the finest collection of Norfolk books to come onto the market in many years.

A portrait of Katherine Witherby by Frederick Sandys, the important 19th century Norwich born Pre-Ra

A portrait of Katherine Witherby by Frederick Sandys, the important 19th century Norwich born Pre-Raphaelite painter (1829-1904), with a pre-sale estimate of £7,000-£10,000 - Credit: Newman Associates PR

Also set to go under the hammer are over 400 pictures (including works by prominent Norwich School artists), and over 350 lots of furniture, jewellery, and other collectables, many of them with a historical link to the county.

Keys Fine Art Auctioneers is to hold the sale from Tuesday, September 6, to Friday, September 9, at its Aylsham salerooms.

The auction comprises a substantive part of the collection of one of the county's leading collectors and antiquaries, Ron Fiske. It was formed at Morningthorpe Manor in Norfolk, which has now been sold.

During the past few months Keys Fine Art Auctioneers have attended to the cataloguing and removal to their premises.


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In total around 2,200 lots will go under the hammer during the four day auction, including one of the finest collections of books of Norfolk and National interest with 1,400 lots going under the hammer in the sale.

Among them are: An exceptional extra-illustrated first edition 'History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in England' made unique by the addition of numerous prints, paintings and drawings, which has a pre-sale estimate of £20,000-£25,000.

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A substantial autograph collection of around 600 autographs, including King William IV, the Duke of Wellington, Horatio Walpole, Viscount Palmerston and, of great international interest, a number of rare totem marks of some of the Ottawa and Chepawa natives of Detroit, North America

A collection of pocket diaries of Horatio William Walpole, the fourth Earl of Orford described as ''recording the life of a dissolute rake from his school days to his return home to Wolterton to contemplate the waste of his life'.

Over 400 pictures, including works by national and local recognised artists such as Sir Godfrey Kneller, John Theodore Heins, Mary Beale and famous Norfolk artists including John Sell Cotman, John Crome, Alfred Stannard, David Hodgson and Anthony and Frederick Sandys; many of the works have Norfolk-related subjects.

Many interesting pieces of furniture, including a 17th century cabinet which once belonged to author Henry Rider Haggard, and a rare 16th century fireplace originally owned by Lord Mayor of Norwich William Rogers.

'This is an astonishing sale with many items which will attract anyone interested in the history of Norfolk,' said Roy Murphy, director at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers.

'Ron Fiske is one of the leading collectors we have known. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most knowledgeable experts on books about Norfolk, and the breadth of his collection makes this one of the finest country house sales seen for many years.

'There are almost too many highlights to pick out. Ron is a true collector; there has always been something else he wanted to add to his collection. The result will be a fascinating four day sale, which we know will attract collectors from all over the UK and beyond.'

His collection represents the greater part of a lifetime's work. I suspect it will be of great interest to individuals interested in their own local history, to institutions and indeed to other collectors.'

A Fellow of the National Heraldry Society and a member of many local and national societies, Ron Fiske started collecting in the 1960s, with a particular interest in local history and extra illustrated books.

He is very much in demand as an expert in the county's history, and his library at Morningthorpe Manor became a magnet for academics and researchers, particularly when the Norwich Library fire made access there impossible.

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