In the late seventeenth century, when the Dublin book trade was in its infancy, book auctions became a popular method of sale with bookseller and purchaser alike. The auction offered variety to connoisseurs, often featuring imported continental editions, and older scarce material not easily found in the general Dublin bookshops. For the bookseller the initial investment would have been recouped over a shorter time-scale thanks to the intensity of the auction form. In the early eighteenth century book auctions became an accepted part of the Dublin book trade, they continued in popularity as a means of acquiring a library, or adding to an existing collection. Phillips has situated the Dublin book auction within the capital’s expanding book trade and shows how booksellers embraced this form of sale as a means of enlivening the market and at the same time providing an outlet for slow-moving stock. Pollard has considered those book buyers who frequented the auction room, and whose libraries in turn came under the hammer. By the end of the eighteenth century book auctions were commonplace in Dublin and in the provincial cities. Collectors kept book catalogues, often bound together, as bibliographical resources and price guides. The catalogue of the library of the Hon. Denis Daly, MP for Galway, auctioned in 1792, was one such catalogue as Daly’s collection was renowned for its fine editions. It was to be found in private libraries well into the nineteenth century and is still one of the most widely available of eighteenth-century Irish catalogues. Daly’s catalogue is likely to have been printed in a larger than normal run because of the importance of the sale. The catalogues were available from booksellers in Great Britain and on the continent from March 1792 for the May sale. Book sale catalogues are very much ephemeral matter and many have not survived in even a single example, this is especially true of the catalogues of undistinguished collectors, which were not kept as desiderata of a fine library.
So popular had the book auction become as a means of purchasing books that some booksellers resorted to it as a way of pushing old and slow-moving stock. Many blamed the auction for artificially inflating prices. A report from London in the Dublin Chronicle in May 1787 on the sale of Dr Wright’s library noted that ‘his library, for its size, was reckoned valuable, even by the connoisseurs … the reading books sold but indifferently; ‘but all such reading as was never read’ sold, as usual, according to the rivalship of contending connoisseurs, which in the present instance was very favourable to the sale’. Edmond Malone, writing to Lord Charlemont, confirmed this: ‘The newspapers have informed you of the great sale of the books of an old brother collector, Dr Wright … the price that all the rarities went at was beyond all former examples’. The presence of so many uncut copies of rare books in private libraries would seem to bear this out. Writing to Malone of the Daly sale, Charlemont says ‘you judged right respecting the sale of our poor friend’s books … During the week of the auction the Dublin world was book mad. All men bought, they who could and they who could not read, and the prices were more than London would have afforded’. John Archer, the Dublin bookseller, referring to the auction of the library of Rev. Dr Newcome, Archbishop of Armagh, in March and April 1800, commented ‘almost every article of value in the Primate’s Collection, as yet, has sold above the value’.
In 1790 an anonymous contributor to the Freeman’s Journal bemoaned the fact that ‘there are not greater deceptions, on the public than the present kind of Book Auctions in this city, to which the people are deluded under the imagination of acquiring cheap books’ and he advised ‘no gentleman should disgrace his library with such abominable productions; which no book-seller in Dublin would dare offer for sale’. Henry George Quin, who spent freely at the Crevenna sale in Amsterdam in 1790, to such an extent that he was awarded the hammer by the auctioneer when the sale was over, spent very sparingly at the sale of the Bibliotheca Parisiana in London in 1791 as the books that he intended to purchase were sold at what he thought extravagant prices.
In the early part of the century book auctions were held in suitably large hired exhibition or public rooms. Dick’s coffee house became one of the early venues for book sales in Dublin. Situated in part of the late fifteenth- early sixteenth-century great house known as Carbery House, Dick’s became a focal point for the Dublin book trade from the late seventeenth to the middle of the eighteenth centuries. Established as a coffee house by Richard Pue on the drawing room, or first floor, the ground floor, back rooms and back offices were used by various members of the trade for printing, bookselling, newspaper publishing, and for book auctions. The Anne and Grecian coffee house, at the foot of Essex Bridge, a suite of rooms where books were sold by auction in the evenings, from 1723 until at least 1728. The sale of books, maps, prints and cuts which took place on 24 October 1724 was the property of Thomas Thornton, bookseller, as catalogues were available at the Anne and Grecian and at St Luke’s Head in Dame Street, the bookshop of Robert and Thomas Thornton. On 30 October 1727 a ‘Choice Collection of Books, in English, Latin, Greek, French, Italian &c.’ was offered for sale at the Anne and Grecian.
Carbery House, which housed Dick’s coffee house, from Masonic Female Orphan School of Ireland, ed. by Thomas Stuart (Dublin, 1892). Dublin Daily Advertiser, 13 November 1736.
Before the erection of the Music Hall in Fishamble Street, Tailor’s Hall was one of the largest rooms in Dublin and was used for auctions, Stationer’s Hall was also put to this use. In 1718 the Great Hall of the King’s Inns was used for the auction of ‘a choice Collection of Pictures, mostly Originals, by the best Masters in Europe’. Thomas Thornton held auctions of libraries at the Parliament House in 1737 and 1739. The Coffee Room of the House of Lords was used for book auctions by William Ross in 1755 and 1764 and by Michael Duggan in 1766. Geminiani’s Great Room in the Spring Gardens, Dame Street, was used for a wide variety of auctions. It was so called because the Italian musician and composer Francesco Geminiani, who lived next door from 1733 to 1740, and again from 1758 until his death in 1762, used the hall occasionally for his recitals. In 1749 the stock of Mrs Sarah Hyde, bookseller, was auctioned and catalogues were available at the room. Mrs Hyde’s bookshop was in the immediate vicinity and she had taken in subscriptions for the publication of Geminiani’s Twelve sonatas in 1757. William Gilbert used the venue for his larger sales, for instance in 1774 for the sale of the library of the Hon. Francis Andrews, Provost of Trinity College Dublin, and James Vallance used it for the auction of the library of Andrew Chaigneau in 1777. From the 1730s book auctions were held at the Golden Ball on the north side of College Green and it was used by Laurence Flin for his auctions in the 1760s. James Chapman was proprietor of the auction room in the Spring Gardens during the 1760s and 1770s, and he regularly held his own auctions there. In December 1771 he announced an auction of prints and books of prints, ‘books of architecture, ornaments, etc.’ He claimed that this was the largest sale that ever occurred in Dublin.
John Rocque, An exact survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin, 1756, showing Tailor’s Hall (marked TH) in Back Lane, near High Street, and the Parliament House, College Green.
In England auctioneers were moving away from the use of public venues and opening ‘great rooms’ in the last quarter of the seventeenth century. By the 1680s Covent Garden was the centre of the auction trade. This did not become the norm in Dublin until the second half of the eighteenth century. At this period book auctions had become so widespread that most Dublin auctioneers had their own rooms and rarely hired a public venue. Robert Bell had his auction room on Cork Hill opposite Lucas’s coffee house in 1762. Later he took over Stretch’s Theatre in Capel Street as his auction room and it became known as Bell’s Great Library Room. Bell was declared bankrupt in 1767 and his leasehold on ‘that Large and Valuable concern, which Mr Bell, at a very considerable expense, has fitted up’, his great room in Capel Street was auctioned by Thomas Armitage on behalf of the sheriffs of Dublin. James Vallance had his auction room at the Old Post Office Court from 1781, and at 6 Eustace Street from 1792. The premises at Eustace Street was occupied by the auctioneer, Thomas Jones, who succeeded Vallance in business in the early nineteenth century. R.E. Mercier had his auction room at 31 Anglesea Street. Charles Sharpe had his extensive auctioneering business next door at 33 Anglesea Street from 1819 to 1852.
Dublin book auctioneers
John Dunton’s Dublin Scuffle, an account of his ‘ramble’ to Ireland in the summer of 1698 with his ‘venture of Books (of near Ten Tun)’ to sell at auction in Dublin, is an invaluable record of the Dublin book trade at this period. Well acquainted with the leading booksellers and book buyers, he was quick to give a shrewd pen portrait of most of them. Dunton found that he was not the first to introduce the auction as a form of sale to Ireland. He mentions William Norman, Robert Thornton and Patrick Campbell, the latter a rival bookseller to whom the Dublin scuffle is addressed, as book auctioneers trading in Dublin. Richard Pue senior was the eponymous proprietor of Dick’s coffee house in Skinner Row, which was the main venue for book auctions from the late seventeenth century. Dunton held two book auctions there before he transferred to Patt’s coffee house in High Street for his third auction.
Richard Wilde, bookseller in the London and Dublin trades, managed Dunton’s three auctions in Dublin. Dunton says of Wilde the he was ‘the first that brought an Auction thither [Dick’s coffee house], that had kept several there, and was the means of bringing Mr Thornton’s formerly, and mine now’. He notes particularly that Wilde was the proprietor of the shelves that stood in the back room of Dick’s coffee house, which suggests that Wilde may have conducted the book auctions at Dick’s on behalf of some of the booksellers, notably Robert Thornton. Wilde obviously gave satisfaction as an auctioneer as Dunton ‘engaged him in a second Auction for Scotland, and were I to make a third as far as Rome (as who knows but I may, for I design to see his Holiness) Mr Richard Wilde would be the sole Manager.’ Wilde, however, continued as auctioneer in Dublin, advertising as an auctioneer of lands in addition to books in 1710. He died intestate in 1715.
Pollard had identified the earliest extant Dublin catalogue, a fragmentary auction catalogue of William Norman’s for 1693, where he offered for auction ‘Books in several Faculties … and several Spanish, French, Italian and Dutch Books’. Norman (1676-1705) was a bookseller from 1676 and his auctioneering business seems to have been extensive by 1698 when Dunton was taken to his warehouse to view his stock ‘where he had a large Auction, preparing, as he said, for Sale’. John Ware (1698-1713), described by Dunton as ‘honest Ware’, sold books by auction at Dick’s coffee house in 1698 as evidenced by a surviving copy of the catalogue of the library of Thomas Scudamore. Another auction catalogue of Ware’s from November 1710, giving no consignor’s name, offered books in several faculties and languages for sale at Dick’s. Ware’s bookshop was in ‘High Street over against St Michael’s church’, where he traded in ‘all sorts of Choice Books, School-Books, Histories’ as well as writing paper, pens, ink, wax, wafers &c. He died in 1714 and in 1715 his widow, Mary Ware, held book auctions at her bookshop ‘next door to the Raven in Fishamble Street’. She sold the library of Rev. Dr Wettenhall, Bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh, in February and March 1714-15, possibly by fixed-priced catalogue rather than by auction. This library contained ‘many very Valuable Books, in several Languages and Faculties’.
In the first two decades of the century a number of book auctioneers held regular auctions in Dublin, Robert Thornton (1681-1718), John Affleck (1696-1723), John Crawford (fl. 1718-1720), and John Chantry (1719-1742), John Affleck was journeyman to Patrick Campbell, Dunton’s rival in the Dublin scuffle, from 1696 to 1704. He became a bookseller in his own right at the Keay in St Bridget’s Street until May 1716, and at Buchanan’s Head, Dame Street until 1721. He specialised in imported books, in August 1715 and again in May 1716 he advertised a ‘great parcel of curious Books’ which he had imported from Holland. In 1720 he advertised his willingness to conduct diverse auctions including ‘Books, Lands, Houses, Pictures and Household Goods &c’. John Crawford at ‘the Colledge Arms in Dame-Street’ in 1718, and at the Exchange, Cork Hill in 1719, advertised his auctions in October 1718 when he offered the library of a gentleman and the stock of a bookseller lately deceased, for sale at Dick’s Coffee House, catalogues gratis.
In 1718 John Chantry moved to Dublin from London, where he was a bookseller from 1693. His first bookshop was next door to Ralph Dutton’s Arms in Clarendon Street. An anonymous advertisement from July 1719 is certainly that of Chantry ‘within two doors of Sir Ralph Dutton’s Arms in Clarendon Street; next William Street’. He offered a ‘Curious Collection of Antient and Modern Books, about one thousand Volumes in Latin, French and English’ which he would sell at very reasonable rates. Priced catalogues were issued for his stock, and he offered good prices for a library or study of books. The exact form of wording is used in another anonymous advertisement of July 1721, giving Chantry’s new address ‘opposite the Watch House on the North-side of College Green’. Chantry held book sales regularly opposite the watch house from 1720 to 1727. By 1721 he was taking out large advertisements for his new book stock as well as his collection of sale books, and also taking subscriptions for new books. In December 1727 he moved to the corner of Sycamore Alley in Dame Street where he continued in business as a bookseller. With the move to Sycamore Alley, Chantry began to give his name on advertisements. He carried on his business by issuing a priced catalogue for his sale stock rather than by conducting open auctions. Even when selling a private library, such as the ‘curious Collection of Books in Latin, French, Italian and English’, the library of the Rev. Mr Placette in January 1727/28, and when the sale was of limited duration, ‘this Day and every Day next Week’, the catalogue contained the price of each book.
Luke Dowling (1697-1742), bookseller next door to the Wool Pack in High Street, proposed to auction books early in 1719, having bought the residue of stock of James Malone, a bookseller retiring from business, on 27 January 1718/19. He planned to auction the remaining books from Malone’s ‘choice Collection of Books’, and Malone’s stock of chapbooks would be sold wholesale and retail to country chapmen. The auction took place on 9 November 1719 at Dick’s coffee house and catalogues were issued for the sale. Late in 1720 he offered a choice collection of books for auction at Dick’s. Richard Norris (1719-1745), bookseller at the corner of Crane Lane, was a book auctioneer from at least 1723 when he issued a catalogue of books to be sold by auction. A surviving catalogue of Norris’s containing over 1,700 lots testifies to an auction of a ‘Choice Collection of Valuable Books’ at Dick’s coffee house on 3 November 1729.
Robert Thornton (1682-1723) was printer, bookseller, publisher, book auctioneer and bookbinder in Dublin from 1682. He was granted the office of King’s Stationer in Ireland in October 1692. Dunton described him as King’s stationer in 1698, as well as a book auctioneer, when he treated him to a ‘Bottle of Excellent Claret’. An advertisement of November 1722 is a general notice offering to auction books ‘for the Benefit of Clergymen’s, Lawyers’, or other Gentlemen’s Widows, or Executors’ at Dick’s coffee house. He also offered ready money for old books. He produced a general sale catalogue of books ‘in most Faculties and Languages’ in 1723, to which he appended an advertisement: ‘Books to be sold by Auction every Term henceforward, at Dick’s Coffee House in Skinner’s Row’. He continued to offer ‘ready Money for Old Books’ and also took the opportunity to advertise his stationery wares.
Thornton was succeeded by his sons Thomas (1722-1741) and Charles (1726-1728). Thomas was the most active in the auctioneering business, issuing several catalogues from at least 1726 until 1741. In addition to the surviving catalogues of Rev. Nicholas Knight (1732), John Huson (1737) and Rev. Thomas Sheridan (1739), newspaper advertisements provide evidence of other auctions of private libraries held by Thornton during the 1720s and 1730s. In November 1726 he issued catalogues for the sale of the books and pictures of Sir Hovenden Walker. From Thornton’s advertisements the frequency of book sales is noticeable. On Monday 15 November 1736 the library of Dr Alex M’Naghten, M.D. was auctioned at 11 o’clock in the morning and that evening at 5 o’clock a general sale of books ‘in several Faculties’ was held at Dick’s. The following Monday, 22 November, the library of Robert Allen was to be sold at Dick’s coffee house. At his death on 30 October 1741 Thornton was described as ‘the most eminent Auctioneer for Books in this Kingdom’.
Sales of private libraries were conducted by a number of prominent book auctioneers at mid-century, William Heatly (1730-1742), William Ross (1746-1765), Robert Bell (1759-1767) and Thomas Armitage (1759-1786). William Heatly of the Bible and Dove on College Green advertised that he would ‘supply the place of Mr Thomas Thornton, deceas’d, in selling Books by Auction’. His first sale, the auction of Rev. Mr Goodwin’s books ‘which hath been deferr’d by reason of the death of Mr Thornton’ was held at Dick’s coffee house on 30 November 1741. The following February he advertised the sale of a collection of books, the property of Mr William Dobbs, surgeon, also at Dick’s. Heatly was not to fill Thornton’s place, however, as he lived for less than a year after Thornton. Richard Pue the younger (1728-1758) succeeded his father as proprietor of Dick’s coffee house. His mother, Elizabeth Pue, had run the coffee house and the newspaper publishing business at the back of Dick’s since the death of Richard senior in 1722. Richard took over publication of Pue’s Occurrences in 1731. In 1742, after the death of William Heatly, Pue announced that he had undertaken the business and would begin to auction books. He began with two auctions, the first on 8 November 1742, the library of Rev. Dr Debutts, the auction taking place at Dick’s at 5 o’clock. The catalogue of the second auction, the library of the late Thomas Ash, Esq., counsellor at law, was to be printed the following week on 15 November.
Bacon’s coffee house on Essex Street was a venue for auctions until 1742 with Thomas Bacon (1738-1743) as auctioneer. Bacon began his career as a book auctioneer, becoming a bookseller, printer and corrector of the press. Auctions were advertised in the winter of 1740 and the spring of 1741, comprising books in all languages and faculties, paintings, coins and medals. Joshua Kinnier (1743-1777), on the Lower Blind Quay, auctioned libraries in loose partnerships with other booksellers. In 1743 Kinnier and Zachariah Martineau sold the library of Rev. John Copping, Dean of Clogher, and in 1745 Kinnier and Augustus Long sold that of Rev. Carew Reynell, Bishop of Derry. Long also auctioned books on his own, in 1747 he advertised a sale at the Merchant’s coffee house in Essex Street.
Richard Pue employed William Ross as his book auctioneer in 1746. Soon afterwards Ross went into business on his own, using Dick’s as his auction room. He auctioned the libraries of a clergyman and an eminent physician at Dick’s on 18 November 1747, addressing ‘Widows, Executors and others’ with ‘Books to dispose of at Auction’, he offered ready money for libraries and parcels of books. He held very many book sales up to the time of his death in 1765. His sales included the libraries of Samuel Card Esq. (1755), Rev. Dr Francis Hutchinson, Bishop of Down and Connor (1756), Dr Thomas Lloyd (1758), H. Cuningham (1760) and Rev. Robert Downes, Bishop of Raphoe (1764). His own book stock was auctioned in 1766 by James Vallance.
Laurence Flin (1754-1771), with his nephew and successor Laurence Larkin Flin (1771-1787), based their bookselling business around the production of a priced annual sale catalogue, usually with a supplement. From 1758 Flin also held auctions at ‘the Golden Ball, on the North side of College Green, opposite the statue of King William’. In 1760 he sold three libraries together at the Golden Ball, that of Rev. John Lawson, D.D., Rev. John Hastings, B.D. and Rev. Mordaunt Hamilton. In 1766 the library of Rev. Dr Richard Pococke, Bishop of Meath, and that of Dr John Fergus, came under his hammer. Libraries were often included in the annual priced catalogue, although not segregated from the rest of the stock. This was also the practice of London booksellers such as Thomas Osborne of Gray’s Inn. The second part of Laurence Larkin Flin’s catalogue for 1780 included in its ‘several Thousand volumes’ the library of an eminent Barrister and a ‘great Variety of the best Authors in the French and Italian languages’ while his catalogue for 1781 included the collections of ‘a late Divine and two other Gentlemen deceased’ and for 1782 ‘the Libraries of two literary Gentlemen lately deceased’.
Robert Bell (1759-1767) was bookseller, publisher and book auctioneer during the 1760s. His bookshop was at the Book and Bell in Dame Street. He had his own auction room on Cork Hill opposite Lucas’s coffee house from 1761 and at the corner of Stephen Street, opposite Aungier Street from 1763 to 1767. Later he took over Stretch’s Theatre in Capel Street as his auction room and it became known as Bell’s Great Library Room. Bell was declared bankrupt in 1767 and his stock auctioned by Thomas Armitage on behalf of the sheriffs of Dublin on 2 December. The auction included the sale of his leasehold on his great theatre in Capel Street. He emigrated to American where he became a prosperous bookseller and auctioneer in Philadelphia. The following year, 1768, Stretch’s Theatre was used as an auction room by Michael Duggan.
Thomas Armitage took over William Ross’s auction room at Dick’s coffee house for his own sales in 1766. On 30 November 1767 he auctioned the library of Dominick Sarsfield, counsellor at law, at Dick’s. Armitage used Dick’s until 1771 when he opened his bookshop and auction room in Crampton Court. He continued to hold book sales until 1786 when he retired from business. While primarily a book auctioneer, Armitage was also willing to take ‘Goods of several Kinds, which he disposes of by Auction’. In October 1786, when he quit the business, part of his bound stock was sold at auction by Stephen Armitage of 15 Castle Street. From 1785 Stephen Armitage auctioned libraries and gave ready money for parcels of books. Doing business from the same address in Castle Street, it is probable that he was the son or relative of Thomas Armitage.
Several large and prominent libraries came on the market from the late 1730s to the late 1760s. None was spectacular in size or range, but those whose catalogues have survived display an active interest in history, voyages and travels, scientific topics, and show a noticeable increase in the number of foreign language books present in the collections, usually in French and Italian. The Latin and Greek classics, books on divinity and sermons remained prominent in most collections.
From the 1770s several big sales were held which widened public interest in the auction form, auctioneers such as William Gilbert (1761-1815), James Vallance (1764-1808) and Richard Edward Mercier (1791-1820) conducted some of the most prestigious sales of the century.
William Gilbert, bookseller and stationer, began to sell books by auction from 1772 when he moved to a new shop at 26 Great George’s Street. He also had an interest in the auction room at 15 Dame Street, where he valued books and held auctions with the firm of Gilbert and Euart. He used public venues, such as Geminiani’s Great Room, for his more prestigious sales. In 1774 he advertised a gentleman’s library in different languages with ‘a great variety of the best modern French authors’ as its chief selling point; the sale was to take place at Mr Chapman’s auction room in College Green. On 20 November 1774 he held the sale of the notable library of the provost of Trinity College Dublin, Rt. Hon. Francis Andrews, in Geminiani’s great room. But on 5 December of that year he used his own auction room at 15 Dame Street for the sale of the library of Rev. Dr John Leland. Geminiani’s great room was again the venue for his auctions in June 1776 of the library of Thomas Southwell Esq., M.D., and in November for the sale of the libraries of a deceased clergyman and a ‘Gentleman who has left the Kingdom’. Catalogues for the June sale were available at his bookshop in Great George’s Street. From the 1780s Gilbert turned from auctioneering to a specialisation in medical books, issuing annual priced catalogues of his stock.
James Vallance was the principal name in book auctioneering at this period. From 1766 until his death in 1808 Vallance was involved in the sale of some of the most valuable libraries in the country. For his early auctions his name was associated with that of Michael Duggan, suggesting a partnership of some kind between them during the period 1766 to 1768. His first known sale was the stock of William Ross, bookseller, in March 1766, catalogues were available from Duggan’s bookshop in Bride’s Alley, from Vallance’s bookshop in Grafton Street, and at the place of sale. Both names were associated with the sales of the libraries of Francis Bindon and Richard Terry on 2 May 1768, which took place at Crampton Court. With William McGarry, Vallance had transacted business for William Ross, and after Ross’s death in 1767 they announced their intention to carry on the auction business. In 1769 Vallance and McGarry sold the library of the Rev. Mr Burgh, at Shaw’s Court, Dame Street. Vallance acted alone at this period also and in December 1767 he advertised the sale of the library of John Bull Esq., attorney at law, at his own auction room in Suffolk Street, near Grafton Street. The address at 16 Suffolk Street remained Vallance’s base until about 1782, although his auctions usually took place at other locations, mainly at Crampton Court of Shaw’s Court. He had an auction room at the Old Post Office Yard from about 1781 to 1791, when his bookshop was located at College Green. In July 1787 he auctioned the renowned library of Archbishop John Carpenter, Catholic archbishop of Dublin, but none of the printed catalogues have survived.
Bookshop and auction room were combined with his move to 6 Eustace Street in 1792, here he remained until his death in 1808. From this new premises Vallance held one of the most high-profile sales of the century, that of Hon. Denis Daly in May 1792. The following year, intending perhaps to keep the public’s interest primed he announced in his advertisement for the libraries of two gentlemen and H. Hone in April 1793 that the sale ‘for Variety and Value, by far exceeds any Collection he has the honour hitherto to offer to their Notice excepting that of the late Rt Hon. Denis Daly. As well as book auctions, Vallance conducted auctions of original paintings and prints, having sold the library of Judge Robert Hellen on 10 February 1794, he issued catalogues for the collection of pictures, drawings, prints, statues, plate and china for auction on 27 February. In November 1807 he sold the collection of J. Barker Esq., which included works by Van Ruysdael, Cuyp, Rembrandt and Van Dyke. One of his last sales, that of Thomas Goold on 21 April 1808, was auctioned by Vallance and Jones, indicates the handing over of the reins to Thomas Jones, who occupied the premises at Eustace Street and carried on the auctioneering business until 1831. Very many of Vallance’s auction catalogues have survived, but a large number of his sales are known only from advertisements.
Richard Edward Mercier began his career as James Vallance’s sale clerk, but in 1793 he set up his own business as bookseller and auctioneer. He auctioned such prestigious libraries as that of Lord Mornington (1795), Provost Richard Murray (1800) and Joseph Cooper Walker (1817). Part of his own stock was sold by ‘order of the Assignees’ on 2 December 1807 at his auction room, 31 Anglesea Street, however he continued in business until 1821.
Auctions of foreign language books took place towards the end of the century. Antoine Gerna (1786-1795) was foreign language bookseller at 50 Summerhill in 1786, and from 1787, at 31 College Green. He specialised in French and Italian literature and had spent many years as a teacher and translator of both languages. His earliest recorded book sale catalogue is from 1787, though no copy seems to be extant. The catalogue consisted of ‘a capital Collection of Books in the French Language, with a Supplement, Containing Works of Reputation in the Italian and other Languages’. Catalogues cost 6½d. and were available from William Wilson’s bookshop and Mrs Chamberlaine’s as well as from the place of sale, 50 Summerhill. In 1788 Gerna’s foreign language books were offered for sale by auction at his sale room, 31 College Green. He described them as ‘the greatest variety of Books, in different Languages, ever offered for sale in this Kingdom’. The catalogue of books for each day’s sale was issued ‘every previous morning’. Gerna appealed to the cultural aspirations of his clientele, never to their desire for cheap books. He advised them to purchase ‘at this Enlightened period, when the Polite languages of Europe are disseminated for the intercourse of Knowledge, Elegance of Taste, and Advantage of Science through its various kingdoms’. He encouraged ‘Ladies and Gentlemen to supply themselves with the finest Editions of the Polite Literature of the Continent’.
One sale catalogue of Gerna’s survives, that of 1793, but it is a fixed price catalogue and not an auction catalogue. It contains 2,133 lots in French and Italian, including an entire section devoted to the works of Voltaire. Gerna issued both fixed price and auction catalogues, though the latter were the more ephemeral, catalogues produced only the day before the sale were probably not of an enduring quality, and may not even have been printed. In 1795 he announced his retirement from business, and his stock consisting of a ‘choice Collection in French, Italian and other modern languages, the most of which have been lately imported from the Continent’ was sold by auction by James Vallance on 19 February.
The private libraries put up for sale in the last quarter of the century show a deep appreciation of European trends in book collecting and library building. Some collections such as the library of the Hon. Denis Daly, Lord Mornington, Dr Arthur Browne, Provost Richard Murray and Thomas Wogan Browne are truly international in content. These sales were attended by scholars and collectors and even institutional libraries were tempted to purchase. In 1792 a sum of £100 was borrowed by the Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge to make purchases at the Daly sale in Dublin.
General auctioneers also sold libraries, often as part of a property or house contents sale. After the death of Dr Charles Lucas in November 1771 his entire property was sold, with Henry Dobson, upholder, in charge of the sale. Lucas’s town house in Henry Street, his country house in Penneville, Ballybough Bridge, and all his household furniture were auctioned. On 13 April 1772 his library ‘in several languages’ and his medical apparatus were for sale, followed on the 18 April by the sale of his collection of prints. As the sale was so complete, comprising property and furniture as well as the library, it was clearly outside the scope of the more specialist booksellers. General auctioneers were often employed by the sheriffs of Dublin in cases of book sales following bankruptcy. In January 1784 the sheriffs of Dublin sold the household furniture of William Ruxton, late surgeon general, at his house, 4 Hoey’s Court, Werburgh Street. The sale included furniture ‘as will be more fully expressed in hand bills’, plate, choice old port, claret, white wine and mead, ‘a most valuable collection of books’ and surgical instruments. The auctioneers were Hawkins and Davis, and catalogues of the books were to be had at the place of sale. In December of the same year Hawkins and Davis again did duty for the sheriffs and sold the house of the earl of Clanwilliam, together with carriages, horses, household furniture, paintings and his library of books. In February 1784 the sheriffs put up for auction the house of the late Rev. Dr Thomas Carr in Kildare Street ‘by virtue of several writs of Fieri Facias’ and also ‘the household furniture, plate, china, glass and house linen, a large organ fit for a church; a small barrel ditto; a fine toned harpsichord and spinet; a carriage and horses; and a large well chosen library of books; a number of paintings of the best artists.’ Particulars would be circulated in hand bills. The following week Richard Edwards, upholder at Great ship Street, was employed by the sheriffs to dispose of the library of John Tunnadine Esq. at the great room in Anglesea Street.
It was common practice to sell booksellers’ bound stock by auction at their retirement, death, or bankruptcy. The unbound stock of a bookseller was not usually auctioned in this manner, but offers were taken from other booksellers. In 1732 Mrs Vizard, a pewterer at the Castle Market, Dame Street, sold the stock and library of William Binauld, foreign language bookseller, with the libraries of a clergyman and a lawyer. When Sarah Hyde gave up the bookselling business in April 1749 her stock consisting of bound books and books in sheets was auctioned and catalogues were issued for the sale. Her newly-built house on the south side of Dame Street, with a back house, yard, garden and out offices were offered for letting. The book stock of Richard Gunne was sold by auction by Laurence Flin after Gunne’s death in 1758. Later that year George Risk, quitting the bookselling business, had his ‘large collection of Choice and Valuable Books’ auctioned by Laurence Flin in Temple Court, Castle Street. John Smith’s book stock was sold by William Ross in two segments in April and December 1758 when he retired from business. Robert Bell, bookseller and auctioneer, was declared bankrupt in 1767 and his stock auctioned by Thomas Armitage on behalf of the sheriffs of Dublin. At the retirement of Thomas Ewing, bookseller, in 1776, the remaining portion of his bound stock was put up for sale at his shop , 29 Capel Street, with Luke White as auctioneer. After the sale of books a collection of prints and drawings was sold, followed by the letting of his house, warehouses, coach house and stable. When Edward Walsh, bookseller at Bridge Street, died in 1773 his stock of books was ‘to be sold by a Valuation, wither in Whole or in Parcels’. Arthur Grueber, bookseller and lottery office keeper in Dame Street was declared bankrupt in May 1793 and his choice collection of modern French books was sold by auction by James Vallance in July; catalogues were issued for the sale. Part of the bound stock of Elizabeth Lynch, bookseller to the King’s Inns, was auctioned after her death by James Vallance in July 1794. In May 1802, James Moore of 45 College Green, who intended to retire from business, put his stock of £20,000 worth of books and stationery, up for auction.
Provincial book auctions
Because of the nature of Irish society in the eighteenth century when most country landowners had a town house in Dublin, and spent several months in the capital during the season, Dublin was the main centre for book auctions throughout the century. The book-buying public was concentrated in Dublin for all or part of every year. However, book auctions also took place in Cork, Belfast and Waterford. The sale of books by auction in the country towns differed in several respects from the practice in Dublin. Specialisation was one of the defining features of the Dublin trade, from the late seventeenth century book auctioneers operated within the book trade. They had sufficient custom to make the sale of books by auction and catalogue a viable commercial concern. Most had a bookshop for new and secondhand books, stationery and perhaps patent medicines, but few extended their auctioneering beyond the sale of pictures, drawings and prints, and occasionally plate and china. Business in the provincial towns, however, was much less specialised. Even in the cities of Cork, Belfast, Limerick, Waterford and Kilkenny the range of activities pursued by each bookseller was impressive, ranging from the sale of books, periodicals and stationery to running the local newspaper, the latter an activity also carried on by their Dublin colleagues. Country booksellers were agents for patent medicines, jobbing printers, employment registries for servants, sheet music and instrument sellers, lottery office keepers, insurance agents, duty stamp distributors, and they concentrated on the supply of schoolbooks and chapbooks.
Dublin booksellers occasionally distributed their auction catalogues in the larger cities and towns and took commissions from the booksellers. The first recorded evidence of this practice is for John Dunton’s auctions in 1698 when he distributed catalogues for his three sales to the coffee houses in Limerick, Cork, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Wexford and Galway. Late in the century James Vallance distributed his catalogues in Cork and Belfast, but not to the other cities and towns. In 1788 he auctioned the books, drawings and prints of two gentlemen lately deceased, and catalogues were available at Thomas White’s bookshop in Cork and Mr Smith’s bookshop in Belfast. This was a large auction, the libraries amounting to 5,000 volumes of the ‘best books’. Catalogues for the Daly auction in 1792 were for sale at Thomas White’s in Cork and William Magee’s bookshop in Belfast.
Evidence to date for specialised book auctions only comes from Belfast, Cork and Waterford. In the 1780s Belfast had a number of general auction rooms where books were sold, J. Bailie’s auction rooms on Chichester Quay, where a weekly auction was established in 1785 for household furniture, Lamont’s auction room in Wilson’s Court, High Street in 1789, and Joshua Lomax’s room in High Street in 1789. John Tisdall, bookseller and printer of the Belfast Mercury, offered a valuable and scarce collection of books for sale by auction at the corner shop of Donegall Street, opposite the coffee house in Belfast in January 1786. The sale of over 1,000 volumes, ‘a variety of Latin, French and English Books too numerous to publish’, took place every evening at 7 o’clock. Tisdall promised his buyers that ‘there are not duplicates of more than one Dozen Books’ in the sale. Two catalogues were issued for the two weeks of sales. The second was available on the morning of 31 January for the auction to begin the next evening.
In Cork William Flyn (1764-1801), bookseller, printer and proprietor of the Hibernian Chronicle, was involved in book auctioneering during the 1770s. In August 1770 the sale took place of the library of Dr Joseph Fenn Sleigh at the Exchange coffee house, and catalogues were available from Flyn. In October of the same year the library of Rev. Dr Marmaduke Philips was auctioned at the County Court House, and Flyn held the catalogues. The catalogue of the library of Sir Richard Cox was printed by him in 1772, and the sale was held in Zachary Morris’s Great Room in Boland’s Lane. It is not known if Flyn conducted the auctions himself, or what the precise nature of his involvement was. However, as he offered the highest price for libraries in 1769 it is likely that the auctions were conducted on his behalf. Zachary Morris was a general auctioneer in Cork and he may have acted as auctioneer at the Cox sale.
In Waterford Hugh Ramsey (1740-1785), bookseller, proprietor of the Waterford Chronicle, and with Hans Wallace, auctioneer of lands, at least once turned his hand to the sale of a private library. On 2 September 1771 he auctioned the library of Dr Eaton Edwards, Doctor of Physick, at the Exchange in Waterford. The sale included the ‘large and valuable Collection of Books’ and his collection of plate. The advertisement appeared in July for the September sale, a lead-in which suggests that interest had to be drummed up well in advance.
Dublin book auctioneers sometimes took a stock of books and conducted auctions in the provincial cities. It is not known how this was greeted by the booksellers already established there. In July 1767 Robert Bell brought his books from Dublin to sell by auction in Kilkenny and Tipperary, this coincided with his bankruptcy and the subsequent sale of his stock, so it may have been a last ditch attempt to liquidate his assets. His Kilkenny auction was held next door to the Royal Garter. His stock consisted of history, voyages, travels, biography, novels and entertainment, and catalogues were issued for the sale. He intended to stay only for a few days and then to move to Clonmel, Cashel and Carrick-on-Suir, in County Tipperary. Mr Jameson of Dublin ‘opened a book Auction’ in Broughal’s Lane in Waterford in the summer of 1775, but unluckily on the morning of 22 July he was drowned ‘near the Ring Tower as he was stepping from a gabbard.’ Stephen Armitage, bookseller of 15 Castle Street, Dublin, auctioned books in Cork in 1783, having got 250 handbills printed in advance. He spent the summer season of 1785 in Bridge Street, Belfast, conducting a book auction in the evenings. The collection consisted of ‘Books entirely Novel to any ever Exposed to sale here, all of them new and elegantly bound, including most of the late admired Publications’. As his stay would be short he guaranteed that the terms of sale would be ‘vastly more moderate than usual’. As well as the auctions he promised to attend every day from 10 until 3 to accommodate ladies and gentlemen unable to come in the evenings, he offered ‘any article in the Collection at the average auction prices’. This presents an interesting mix of auction and open sale from the one collection.
Joshua Lomax, bookseller at 2 Crow Street, Dublin, from 1789 to 1795, carried his book auctions to different cities around Ireland. He auctioned books in Belfast in the late 1780s and 1790s. He advertised a series of book auctions in Munster in 1792-93. The first sale was to take place in Cork in September 1792 ‘at a Shop on Daunt’s Bridge, Grand Parade’ when a collection of 3,000 elegant books, from London and Dublin, ‘many of which are new Publications and the best Editions’ would be offered for sale every evening. A catalogue was issued free for the sale. He also offered money for libraries and parcels of books. In June 1793 Mr Lomax ‘from Dublin’ held a sale of a ‘large and valuable Collection of Books’ at the Devonshire House in Quay Lane, near the Exchange in Waterford, from 7 until 10 in the evening. Once again he gave money for libraries and exchanged books.
Most auctions of books outside Dublin would have taken place as part of a house and land sale, conducted by a general auctioneer. In June 1747 the house of William Wall Esq. of Carrick in County Tipperary was auctioned, along with his household furniture. Included in the furniture sale were book cases, a ‘great Variety of the best Italian Prints’, ‘Painted Landscapes’, a pair of globes and ‘several Books in most Faculties’. In this respect the Irish situation varied considerably from that pertaining in the English provinces. A study of Yorkshire book sales has revealed that auctions were carried on by local booksellers as part of the book trade from 1691 to the end of the eighteenth century, with a marked increase from about 1738 with the spread of newspaper publishing in the area. Fixed price sale catalogues were an important feature of the provincial book trade in both England and Ireland from the mid-eighteenth century.
After the passing of the Act of Union in 1801 and the consequent decline in the importance of Dublin for the nobility and gentry, and the end of the parliamentary seasons, more auctions were held in the provincial towns, and many more became the preserve of the London auctioneers, as the fortunes of Irish families shifted to London.
Book auction catalogues
Book auction catalogues and priced commercial catalogues are both of great value for the study of the distribution of books. The auction catalogue could represent a private library, a miscellaneous collection of books, or a selection of commercial stock to be sold by auction. Catalogues are particularly valuable if they represent the private library of a family or collector. The addition of prices, either printed in a commercial catalogue, or in manuscript in an auction catalogue, give an indication of the going rate of a title, its rarity and its popularity; the quality of paper, illustrations and binding will be reflected in the price.
Printed catalogues were issued for book auctions from the late seventeenth century. The earliest English catalogue is that of the library of Dr Lazarus Seaman from 1676, and the earliest extant Irish catalogue dates to 1693, and was issued by William Norman. Catalogues were distributed free to potential buyers, although for the more prestigious sales they were priced. The catalogue of the Denis Daly auction was priced at 2s.8½d., catalogues for the Mornington sale cost one shilling. Vallance charged 6d. or 10d. for some of his larger catalogues, but the cost was deductible if a purchaser spent a certain sum. Catalogues were usually available at the auctioneer’s premises and at the place of sale, if that was different. In the early eighteenth century catalogues could be had from booksellers and coffee houses. For the auction of James Malone’s book stock in January 1718/19 catalogues were available at Dick’s, Pedro’s, Lucas’s, Patt’s and other coffee houses, as well as at the place of sale, Malone’s bookshop at the Holy Lamb in High Street. Catalogues for book sales held at Dick’s coffee house in 1720 were available from most booksellers and coffee houses in Dublin. In June 1726 the Anne and Grecian coffee house held priced catalogues for a sale of ‘Valuable Books in Divinity, Law, History, &c,’ to be held in Ross Lane. It is difficult to ascertain if these catalogues were usually printed, or if they circulated in manuscript. Some of the more extensive catalogues were certainly printed, as examples are still extant, but it is possible that for smaller sales manuscript lists were used. For example, for the sale of the library of Rev. Mr Placette in 1727/28, John Chantry issued a ‘written catalogue’ with prices given.
Printed catalogues for Dublin sales were sometimes distributed to the larger cities and towns. In 1698 John Dunton’s printed catalogues for each of his three sales were ‘delivered Gratis at Dick’s Coffee House (the Place of Sale), and at the Coffee Houses in Limerick, Cork, Kilkenny, Clonmel, Wexford, Galway, and other Places’. This gave buyers in the provincial towns an opportunity to send their commissions to Dublin in time for the sale. This was an unusual practice in Ireland in the late seventeenth century, most auctions were smaller and more narrow-ranging, concentrating mainly on Dublin. For most of the eighteenth century catalogues were issued a short time in advance of the sale, and newspaper advertisements were inserted only a few days before it was due to begin. However, when Laurence Flin issued his annual sale catalogue in 1777 it was available in October 1776 from John Murray in Fleet Street, London, allowing potential customers in London to sample his sale stock. Late in the century James Vallance distributed his catalogues to Cork and Belfast. In 1788 he auctioned the books, drawings and prints of two gentlemen lately deceased, and catalogues were available at Thomas White’s bookshop in Cork and Mr Smith’s bookshop in Belfast. This was a large auction, the libraries amounting to 5,000 volumes of the ‘best books’.
For the Daly sale in May 1792 catalogues were printed in late March and went on sale in Cork, Belfast and from the ‘principal Booksellers in Great Britain, and on the Continent’. Likewise, for the sale of the Mornington library, R.E. Mercier’s catalogue was to be had in London, Chester and from the principal booksellers of Great Britain and Ireland. This practice has a precedent in the great sales of the century in England and the continent, where catalogues were available to purchasers outside the country, who could attend in person or send commissions. Catalogues of the Bibliotheca Parisiana sale were available at Mr Edwards’, Pall Mall, London, from Mr Laurent, Rue de la Harpe, Paris, and from the principal booksellers throughout Europe.
Other celebrated sales were placed within the range of the Irish book buyer in this way. The sale catalogues of Thomas Osborne of London were advertised by Peter Wilson in 1750, with the announcement that he would take in commissions. George and Alexander Ewing offered the same service in 1753. The Bibliotheca Smithiana, the library of Joseph Smith, his Majesty’s Consul at Venice, and one of the sights of the Grand Tour, was sold by auction in London by Baker and Leigh. The sale was advertised in the Freeman’s Journal in January 1773, and catalogues were available from William Wilson in Dame Street, where commissions were also taken from buyers. In 1802 the prestigious Fagel library came up for sale at Christie’s and catalogues were issued. However, it was acquired in its entirety by Trinity College Dublin before the auction took place. Joseph Cooper Walker referred to it in a letter to William Hayley on 24 June 1802: ‘Perhaps you have heard that the College of Dublin has purchased Fagel’s valuable library’, indicating that the book buying public closely followed the sales of well-known collectors.
Fixed price sale catalogues were an important feature of the provincial book trade in both England and Ireland from the mid eighteenth century. These catalogues served a dispersed reading and book-buying public. Priced sale catalogues were employed for the American market to facilitate booksellers and book purchasers in their choice of reading matter. In May 1783 Luke White had 250 catalogues printed ‘for America’ to promote the sale of his publications there. From the Graisberry ledgers, accounts of the printing firm from 1777 to 1785, print-runs of 250 to 500 were usual for sale catalogues, although for some fixed price catalogues this rose to 750. From May 1797 strict controls were brought in to regulate auctioneering and to raise revenue by the imposition of a duty on auctioned items. The auctioneer had to pay 3d. in the £ on lands, tenements, imported merchandise, ships, plate or jewels, and 6d. in the £ on furniture, pictures, books, horses and carriages. Every auctioneer was obliged to be licensed at the rate of 20s. a year in Dublin and 10s. a year in the rest of the country. They were also obliged to give notice of the sale and to provide a written or printed catalogue of the goods to be sold.
Hand bills, far more ephemeral items than auction catalogues, have rarely survived for eighteenth-century auctions. The were used instead of, or as well as, the catalogue to describe the lots to be auctioned. They were delivered free, often from door to door, or posted on public notices, very shortly before the sale. Dunton refers to ‘my very Porter Bacon (who brought the Bill of every Days sale to your Doors)’. General auctioneers, in particular, used hand bills to give details of the objects to be sold. In January 1784 auctioneers Hawkins and Davis, on behalf of the sheriffs of Dublin sold the household furniture of William Ruxton, late surgeon general, the sale included furniture ‘as will be more fully expressed in hand bills’. One surviving example from the early nineteenth century was issued by John Davis, auctioneer, on 23 February 1804, for the sale ‘by Order of the High Court of Chancery’ of Antrim House, in Merrion Square, Dublin. Itemised are details of the house, garden, offices, and household furniture, but unfortunately this hand bill does not include any books. In the first half of the nineteenth century some hand bills for Charles Sharpe’s book auctions have survived, bound in with his collection of catalogues in the library of the Royal Irish Academy. A manuscript was sometimes circulated at an auction, itemising individual books in a large lot such as ‘bundle of plays’.
Because of such activity in the book auctioneering business during the eighteenth century, the secondhand trade was lively. Library owners monitored the auctions, and catalogues of the more prestigious sales were often to be found in private collections. Catalogues of major libraries were retained by collectors, the most frequently encountered catalogues in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Irish private libraries were those of John Bridges (1725), the Harleian library (1743), Dr Richard Mead (1754), the Duc de la Vallière (1783), Thomas Crofts (1783), the Crevenna library (1790), Bibliotheca Parisiana (1791), Denis Daly (1792), the Fagel library (1802) and Count McCarthy-Reagh (1815). In his catalogue of 1793 John Archer was selling copies of the Bibliotheca Parisiana and Daly catalogues with prices, as part of a range of sale catalogues.
Sales which comprised a single collection, judiciously assembled with certain interests in mind drew more attention from the public than miscellaneous collections, and the auctioneers were careful to point out the scholarly interests of the gentleman whose library was for sale. Annotated copies of books were regularly listed in auction catalogues, and attention is drawn to them by the auctioneer with the object of increasing interest and raising the price. For example, in Jonathan Swift’s catalogue we are told that the books marked with an asterisk have ‘Remarks or Observations on them in the Hand of Dr Swift’, thus according them a greater value. Towards the end of the century the principal private libraries were known and access to rare books and manuscripts was often granted to scholars and other interested readers. R.M. Jephson tells of a visit by Lord Edward Fitzgerald and his wife, Pamela, to Lord Charlemont’s library in 1793 ‘I was fortunate enough to get a sight of the celebrated Pamela, as I happened to be sitting with Lord Charlemont when they both came to see his library. She is elegant and engaging I think in the highest degree, and showed the most judicious taste in her remarks upon the library and curiosities’. The auctions of renowned collections, therefore, took on an added dimension. Auctioneers in their catalogues occasionally supplied the information that a book had come to its last owner from the sale of another well-respected collector.
Book auctions formed part of the Dublin book trade from the late seventeenth century, supplying readers with rare and curious books. The auction catered for a small number of committed book buyers in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, at a time when Dublin bookshops would have unable to provide the range and variety of material demanded by some readers. As well as the sale of private libraries and miscellaneous parcels of books, a consignment of imported stock was often offered for sale by auction, this spiced up the everyday fare available in the Dublin and provincial bookshops. The idea of selling books by auction continued to develop throughout the eighteenth century, so that by century’s end it had become a significant part of the Irish book trade, drawing large audiences and encouraging the expenditure of substantial sums of money. Throughout the century the auction was used as a means of acquiring continental editions in Latin and in the European vernacular languages. Catalogues regularly describe auctions of books in ‘most faculties and languages’ indicating a desire for variety in subject matter and language. In the last quarter of the century catalogues dedicated to French and Italian books were issued by prominent book importers, most notably Luke White, Antoine Gerna and John Archer.
The proliferation of auctions must have meant a far greater choice of reading matter and the opportunity to acquire rare and sought-after items. The dispersal of a known and highly respected collection obviously caused a ripple of interest in the scholarly community. During times of war in Europe, when the importation of books was disrupted, sales of private libraries would have made available material which, otherwise, could not be acquired. Only a relatively small percentage of auction catalogues survive, compared to the number of auctions known to have taken place through newspaper advertisements. Once catalogues for auctions and sales became regular features of the book trade, they helped develop an expertise in the book-buying public which was also advantageous to the trade. The catalogue of a private library gives evidence of the intellectual background of the collector, the thorny question of whether the books were actually read is often offset by the existence of letters, diaries and published articles and books in which the owner discusses his or her reading. From contemporary documents it is known that discussion of books and reading was a frequent topic among cultured men and women.
This paper was read to the 11th Seminar of the History of the Provincial Book Trade, Trinity College Dublin, 3 July 1993, and an extended version published as ‘Book mad: the sale of books by auction in eighteenth-century Dublin’ Dublin Historical Record, LIV, no.1, Spring 2001, pp 48-71.
Images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )
 James W. Phillips, Printing and bookselling in Dublin 1670-1800: a bibliographical enquiry (Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 1998), pp 82-6.
 M. Pollard, Dublin’s trade in books 1550-1800 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989), pp 61-2, 214-7.
 Catalogue of the Library of the late Rt Hon. Denis Daly which will be sold by auction by James Vallance on 1 May 1792 (Dublin, printed for the proprietors John Archer and William Jones), 1792. Dublin Chronicle, 24 March 1792.
 Irish catalogues are listed in the following: List of catalogues of English book sales 1676-1900 now in the British Museum (London, printed by order of the Trustees, 1915). A catalogue of the Bradshaw collection of Irish books in the University Library Cambridge, 3 volumes (Cambridge: printed for the University Library, 1916). Francis O’Kelley, ‘Irish book-sale catalogues before 1801’, The Bibliographical Society of Ireland, V1, no. 3 (Dublin: at the Sign of the Three Candles, 1953). Walter Gordon Wheeler, ‘Libraries in Ireland before 1855: A Bibliographical Essay’. Submitted in part requirement for the University of London Diploma in Librarianship (May 1957), TCD copy has been revised to May 1965. A.N.L. Munby and Lenore Coral, British book sale catalogues 1676-1800 (London, Mansell, 1977). Richard Cargill Cole, ‘Private libraries in eighteenth-century Ireland’, Library Quarterly, 44, no. 3 (1974), pp 231-47.
 Dublin Chronicle, 22 May 1787.
 Edmond Malone to Lord Charlemont, 9 June 1787. The manuscripts and correspondence of James, first Earl of Charlemont, 2 volumes, II, 1784-1799 (London, Historical Manuscripts Commission, HMSO, 1894), p. 52.
 Charlemont to Malone, 15 June 1792. Correspondence, op. cit., II, pp 193-4.
 National Library of Ireland: Ms 27,293, ‘Letters and booksellers’ accounts, John Archer to C.D. Bellew, 1790-1810’; letter dated 14 April 1800.
 Freeman’s Journal, 9-11 December 1790.
 Veronica Morrow, ‘Bibliotheca Quiniana’ in Peter Fox ed., Treasures of the library: Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, printed for the Library of Trinity College Dublin by the Royal Irish Academy, 1986), pp 184-96.
 John T. Gilbert, A history of the city of Dublin, 3 volumes (Dublin, Gill & Macmillan, The Sackville Library, 1978), i, pp 171-5.
 Dublin Courant, 19 October 1723. Dublin Weekly Journal, 29 October 1726; 26 November 1726; 20 January 1727/28. Gilbert, History; ii, p. 23.
 Dublin Gazette, 13-17 October 1724.
 Dublin Weekly Journal, 7-21 October 1727.
 Gilbert, History, i, p. 244; ii, p. 15.
 Pue’s Occurrences, 18-22 November 1718.
 A choice collection of books the library of John Huson, Esq., counsellor at law, deceased (Dublin, Thomas Thornton, 24 November 1737). Catalogue of books, the library of Rev. Dr Thomas Sheridan, deceased (Dublin, Thomas Thornton, 12 November, 1739).
 Catalogue of books being the library of Samuel Card Esq., counsellor at law deceased (Dublin, William Ross, 17 November 1755). Catalogue of books being the entire library of Rt Rev. Robert Downes, Lord Bishop of Raphoe (Dublin, William Ross, 23 January 1764). Catalogue of books being the library of the late ingenious Philip Doyne Esq. (Dublin, Michael Dugan, 27 February 1766).
 Gilbert, History, ii, pp 280-1.
 ‘Francesco Geminiani’, Dublin Historical Record, IV (1941-2), pp 76-8. Brian Boydell, A Dublin musical calendar 1700-1760 (Dublin, Irish Academic Press, 1988), pp 55, 62.
 Dublin Courant, 4-8 April 1749.
 Dublin News Letter, 1-5 March 1736/37.
 Freeman’s Journal, 8-10 November 1774. Independent Chronicle, 13-15 May 1777.
 Catalogue of books being the library of the late Rev. John Lawson, D.D., S.F.T.C.D., also the collection of the late Rev. Mordaunt Hamilton, deceased (Dublin, Laurence Flin, 28 April 1760).
 Freeman’s Journal, 2-5 November 1771. Gilbert, History, ii, p. 281.
 Freeman’s Journal, 3-5 December 1771.
 Myers, Robin ‘Sale by auction: the rise of auctioneering exemplified’ in Robin Myers and Michael Harris eds. Sale and distribution of books from 1700 (Oxford, Oxford Polytechnic Press, 1982), pp 126-63; p. 129.
 Catalogue of books being the library of Howard Parry, Esq., deceased (Dublin, Robert Bell, 20 January 1762).
 A catalogue of books, which will begin to be sold by auction. By the sheriffs of the city of Dublin; being the bound stock in trade of Mr Robt. Bell, Bookseller (Dublin, Thomas Armitage, 2 December 1767).
 John Dunton, The Dublin scuffle: being a challenge sent by John Dunton, citizen of London, to Patrick Campbel, bookseller in Dublin (London, printed for the author and sold by A. Baldwin, Warwick Lane, and by the booksellers in Dublin, 1699), p. 22. A new edition, with introduction and notes by Professor Andrew Carpenter (Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2000).
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, p. 19.
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, pp 21, 46.
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, p. 20.
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, p. 110.
 M. Pollard, A dictionary of members of the Dublin book trade 1550-1800 (London, Bibliographical Society, 2000). Robert Munter, A dictionary of the print trade in Ireland 1550-1775 (New York, Fordham University Press, 1988). Appendix to the twenty-sixth report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records and Keeper of the State Papers in Ireland (Dublin, HMSO, 1895), p. 912.
 Pollard, Dublin’s trade in books, p. 62. Auction 23 November 1693 by William Norman.
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, pp 342-3.
 A catalogue of books in several faculties and languages being the library of that learned and ingenious gentleman Thomas Scudamore, Esq., deceased. To be sold by John Ware, bookseller, by way of auction at Dick’s Coffee-House, 14 November 1698.
 A catalogue of books in several faculties and languages (Dublin, printed by John Ware, bookseller, 1710).
 Whalley’s News Letter, 9 February 1714/15.
 Whalley’s News Letter, 15 February 1714/15. Supplement to Whalley’s News Letter, 21 March 1714/15.
 Whalley’s News Letter, 26-30 May 1716.
 Whalley’s News Letter, 27-31 August 1715; 26-30 May 1716.
 Dublin Courant, 31 August 1720.
 Pue’s Occurrences, 30 September – 4 October 1718.
 Harding’s Dublin Impartial News Letter, 6 January 1718/19; 14 July 1719; 29 July 1721; 28 July 1722. New Dublin Mercury, 14 October 1721. Dublin Weekly Journal, 9 December 1727.
 Harding’s Dublin Impartial News Letter, 14 July 1719.
 Harding’s Dublin Impartial News Letter, 29 July 1721.
 New Dublin Mercury, 14 October 1721.
 Harding’s Dublin Impartial News Letter, 28 July 1722.
 Dublin Weekly Journal, 9 December 1727.
 Dublin Weekly Journal, 27 January 1727/28.
 Harding’s Dublin Impartial News Letter, 6 January 1718/19.
 Harding’s Dublin Impartial News Letter, 15 August 1719
 Dublin Courant, 2 November 1719.
 Dublin Courant, 12 November 1720.
 Dublin Weekly Journal, 12 January 1722/23.
 A catalogue of a choice collection of valuable books, to be sold by auction, on Monday 3 November 1729 at Dick’s Coffee House, by Richard Norris, bookseller, at the corner of Crane Lane (Dublin, 1729).
 Pollard, Dictionary. Liber munerum publicorum Hiberniae, 1152-1827 (London, 1824-30), II, p. 95.
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, p. 343.
 Dublin Courant, 3 November 1722.
 Catalogue of books in most faculties and languages which will be sold by auction, 11 November 1723, by Robert Thornton, stationer (Dublin, 1723).
 Catalogue of the library of Rev. Dr Nicholas Knight (Dublin, Thomas Thornton, 24 January 1732). A choice collection of books the library of John Huson, Esq., counsellor at law, deceased (Dublin, Thomas Thornton, 24 November 1737). Catalogue of books, the library of Rev. Dr Thomas Sheridan, deceased (Dublin, Thomas Thornton, 12 November, 1739).
 Dublin Intelligence, 8 November 1726. Dublin Daily Advertiser, 12 November 1736.
 Dublin Journal, 31 October – 3 November 1741. Reilly’s Dublin News Letter, 31 October – 3 November 1741. Dublin Gazette, 31 October – 3 November 1741.
 Reilly’s Dublin News Letter, 31 October – 3 November 1741.
 Reilly’s Dublin News Letter, 24-28 November 1741.
 Dublin News Letter, 23-27 February 1741/42.
 Dublin News Letter, 2-6 November 1742.
 Dublin News Letter, 2-6 November 1742.
 Pollard, Dictionary.
 Reilly’s Dublin News Letter, 11-14 October 1740; 31 January – 3 February 1740/41.
 Catalogue of curious and valuable books, being the collection of the Rev. Dean Copping (Dublin, Kinnier and Martineau, 21 November 1743). Catalogue of curious and valuable books being the collection of the late Lord Bishop of Derry [Carew Reynell], catalogues to be had at Mr Charles Coleman’s (Dublin, Kinnier and Long, 4 March 1744/45).
 Dublin Journal, 14 March 1747.
 Pue’s Occurrences, 20 May 1746.
 Dublin Courant, 10-14 November 1747.
 Catalogue of books being the library of Samuel Card Esq., counsellor at law deceased (Dublin, William Ross, 17 November 1755). Catalogue of books, being the library of Rev. Dr Francis Hutchinson, late bishop of Down and Connor (Dublin, William Ross, 26 April 1756). Catalogue of books being the library of Dr Thomas Lloyd, deceased (Dublin, William Ross, 6 March 1758). Catalogue of books being the collection of H. Cuningham, Esq. and a Member of Parliament deceased (Dublin, William Ross, 18 February 1760). Catalogue of books being the entire library of Rev. Robert Downes, Lord Bishop of Raphoe (Dublin, William Ross, 23 January 1764).
 A catalogue of books, being the shop-stock of the late William Ross, bookseller … 19 March 1766. Catalogues to be had at Michael Duggan’s shop, Bride’s Alley, James Vallance’s, Grafton Street, and the place of sale.
 Catalogue of books being the library of the late Rev. John Lawson, D.D., S.F.T.C.D., also the collections of the late Rev. John Hastings, B.D. J.F.T.C.D. and Rev. Mordaunt Hamilton, deceased (Dublin, Laurence Flin, 28 April 1760).
 Catalogue of the library of the late Rt Rev. Dr Richard Pococke, Lord Bishop of Meath (Dublin, Laurence Flin, 10 March 1766). Catalogue of the library of John Fergus M.D. and his son [Macarius Fergus] (Dublin, L. Flin, 3 February 1766).
 Saunder’s News Letter, 13 May 1780; 27 November 1780. Freeman’s Journal, 4-6 December 1781.
 Catalogue of books being the library of Howard Parry Esq., deceased (Dublin, Robert Bell, 20 January 1762). A catalogue of books, belonging to a gentleman going abroad (Dublin, Robert Bell, 18 June 1766). Freeman’s Journal, 10-13 September 1763.
 Freeman’s Journal, 28 July – 1 August 1767. A catalogue of books, which will begin to be sold by auction. By the sheriffs of the city of Dublin; being the bound stock in trade of Mr Robt, Bell, bookseller (Dublin, Thomas Armitage, 2 December 1767).
 Richard Cargill Cole, Irish booksellers and English writers 1740-1800 (London, Mansell, 1986), pp 171-7.
 Catalogue of the libraries of Richard Terry, Francis Bindon Esq. (Dublin, Michael Duggan, 2 May 1768).
 Pue’s Occurrences, 15-18 November 1766.
 Saunders’ News Letter, 23-25 November 1767.
 Pue’s Occurrences, 2-6 February 1773.
 Dublin Journal, 10-12 October 1786.
 Hibernian Journal, 23 November 1785.
 Freeman’s Journal, 11-13 June 1772.
 Freeman’s Journal, 22-24 November 1774; 6-9 May 1775; 30 May – 1 June 1775.
 Freeman’s Journal, 24-26 May 1774.
 Freeman’s Journal, 8-10 November 1774.
 Freeman’s Journal, 22-24 November 1774.
 Freeman’s Journal, 4-6 June 1776; 14-16 November 1776.
 Freeman’s Journal, 15-17 February 1785. Wilson’s Dublin directories 1773-1815.
 Catalogue of the library of the late Philip Doyne (Dublin, 27 February 1766). Catalogue of books, being the library of Francis Stoughton Sullivan LLD (Dublin, Michael Duggan, 19 May 1766. Catalogue of the libraries of Richard Terry, Francis Bindon Esq. (Dublin, Michael Duggan, 2 May 1768).
 Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 1-3 December 1768. Saunders’ News Letter, 2-5 December 1768.
 Dublin Mercury, 10 February 1767.
 Catalogue of books being the libraries of the Rev. Mr Burgh and an eminent Physician deceased (Dublin, James Vallance, 16 March ).
 Saunders’ News Letter, 30 November – 2 December 1767. Gilbert, History, iii, p. 317.
 Freeman’s Journal, 30 November – 2 December 1780. Wilson’s Dublin directories 1771-1782.
 Saunders’ News Letter, 7 July 1781.
 Faulkner’s Dublin Journal, 14 July 1787.
 Saunders’ News Letter, 23 April 1793.
 Catalogue of books, prints and drawings, being the collection of the late Judge Hellen (Dublin, James Vallance, 3 February 1794). Freeman’s Journal, 22 February 1794.
 Freeman’s Journal, 26 November 1807.
 Catalogue of books, being the Library of the late Thomas Goold, Esq. (Dublin, Vallance and Jones, 21 April 1808).
 Dengan sale, op. cit., Catalogue of the library of the late Rev. Richard Murray, D.D., Provost of T.C.D. (Dublin, Richard Edward Mercier & Co, 26 May 1800). Bibliotheca St Valeriensis. A catalogue of books, manuscripts, coins, paintings, antiquities, being the collection of the late Joseph Cooper Walker Esq., of St Valeri, near Bray, MRIA (Dublin, R.E. Mercier, 30 June 1817). Freeman’s Journal, 2 December 1807.
 Freeman’s Journal, 15-17 March 1787.
 Freeman’s Journal, 6-10 April 1788.
 Catalogue des livres François, Italien &c. de Antoine Gerna, libraire à Dublin (Dublin, 1793).
 Freeman’s Journal, 17 February 1795. Dublin Evening Post, 17 February 1795.
 Daly catalogue, op. cit., Murray catalogue, op. cit., Dengan Sale. Part the first; containing the books. A catalogue of the extensive and valuable library, prints, paintings, statues, music, mathematical instruments and superb furniture of the chapel which belonged to the late Rt Hon. Earl of Mornington at Dengan Castle (Dublin, R.E. Mercier & Co, 18 May 1795). Catalogue of books, being the law part of the library of Dr Browne, Senior Fellow of Trinity College and prime sergeant, deceased (Dublin, James Vallance, 9 December 1805). Bibliotheca Browniana. Catalogue of the valuable and extensive Library of the late Wogan Browne Esq., of Castle Browne, in the County of Kildare (Dublin, Thomas Jones, 3 August 1812).
 Wheeler, op. cit., p. 119.
 Freeman’s Journal, 28-31 December 1771.
 Freeman’s Journal, 25-28 January 1772; 25-27 February 1772; 9-11 April 1772; 16-18 April 1772.
 Freeman’s Journal, 6 January 1784.
 Volunteer’s Journal, 29 December 1784.
 Freeman’s Journal, 5-7 February 1784.
 Freeman’s Journal, 12-14 February 1784.
 Dublin Evening Post, 23-26 September 1732.
 Dublin Courant, 4-8 April 1749.
 Catalogue of Richard Gunn, 1758, op. cit.
 Universal Advertiser, 28 November – 2 December 1758.
 Catalogue of books being the bound stock of John Smith, bookseller (Dublin, William Ross, 13 April 1758). Remainder of the stock of John Smith (Dublin, William Ross, 7 December 1758. Universal Advertiser, 28 November – 2 December 1758.
 Freeman’s Journal, 28 July – 1 August 1767. A catalogue of books, which will begin to be sold by auction. By the sheriffs of the city of Dublin; being the bound stock in trade of Mr Robt, Bell, bookseller (Dublin, Thomas Armitage, 2 December 1767).
 A catalogue of the remainder of the bound stock of Thomas Ewing, bookseller, (quitting business) (Dublin, Luke White, 15 April 1776. Hibernian Journal, 15-17 April 1776.
 Saunders’ News Letter, 11-14 June 1773.
 Freeman’s Journal, 30 April – 2 May 1793; 18 July 1793.
 A catalogue of law books, being part of the bound stock of the late Mrs Lynch (Dublin, James Vallance, 9 July 1794).
 Hibernian Journal, 11 May 1802.
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, p. 5.
 Dublin Chronicle, 29 March – 1 April 1788.
 Dublin Chronicle, 24 March 1792.
 Belfast Mercury, 30 August 1785; 24 April 1786. Belfast News Letter, 4 August 1789.
 Belfast News Letter, 5 May 1789.
 Belfast News Letter, 14 July 1789.
 Belfast Mercury, 24 January 1786; 31 January 1786; 6 February 1786.
 Hibernian Chronicle, 23 August 1770. Dr Joseph Fenn Sleigh (1735-1770).
 Hibernian Chronicle, 18 October 1770. Rev. Dr Marmaduke Phillips (1698-c.1770).
 Catalogue of a valuable library collected by the late Chancellor Cox, Sir Richard Cox Bart., Rev. Sir Michael Cox Bart. (Cork, Zachary Morris’s Great Room, 1772).
 The works of the late Rev. George Russel, 2 volumes (Cork, Printed for the benefit of the author’s widow and Children, by William Flyn, 1769). At the end of volume I, ‘Books printed and sold by William Flyn’.
 Waterford Chronicle, 12-16 July 1771. Dr Eaton Edwards (1694-1769).
 Finn’s Leinster Journal, 27 June – 1 July 1767.
 Finn’s Leinster Journal, 22-26 July 1775.
 Trinity College Dublin: Ms 10314, Graisberry ledger 1777-85, p. 59. Pollard, Dictionary.
 Belfast Mercury, 22 July 1785.
 Wilson’s Dublin directories 1791-1795. Pollard, Dictionary.
 Belfast Newsletter, 10-14 July 1789; 10-14 May 1793; 25-29 August 1794; 3-7 November 1794; 12-15 December 1794; 24-27 July 1795.
 Cork Gazette, 22 August 1792.
 Waterford Herald, 18 June 1793.
 Dublin Courant, 20-23 June 1747.
 Elizabeth A. Swaim, ‘The suction as a means of book distribution in eighteenth-century Yorkshire’, Publishing History, 1 (1977), pp 49-91.
 Gwyn Walters, ‘Early sale catalogues: problems and perspectives’, in Myers and Harris, op. cit., pp 106-25; p.108. D.H. [Richard Gough] ‘Progress of bookselling by sale catalogues’, Gentleman’s Magazine (December 1788), pp 1065-9. Pollard, Dublin’s trade in books, p. 62.
 Dublin Chronicle, 24 March 1792. Dengan Sale, op. cit.
 Catalogue of scarce and valuable books, being the miscellaneous part of the library of the late Rt Hon. Lord Avonmore (Dublin, James Vallance, 11 February 1807). Catalogue of scarce and valuable books, being the library of the late Alexander Mangin, Esq. (Dublin, James Vallance, 6 December 1802).
 Harding’s Dublin Impartial News Letter, 6 January 1718/19.
 Dublin Courant, 9 May 1720.
 Dublin Weekly Journal, 16 June 1726.
 Dublin Weekly Journal, 27 January 1727/28.
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, p.5.
 Hibernian Journal, 23 October 1776.
 Dublin Chronicle, 29 March – 1 April 1788.
 Dublin Chronicle, 24 March 1792.
 Dengen Sale, op. cit.
 Bibliotheca Parisiana, A catalogue of a collection of books, formed by a gentleman in france, sold by auction in London, 26 March, 1791 and 5 Days following (London, 1791).
 Dublin Journal, 22 May 1750.
 Dublin Journal, 9 January 1753.
 Freeman’s Journal, 31 December 1772 – 2 January 1773. Stuart Morrison, ‘Records of a bibliophile: the catalogues of Consul Joseph Smith and some aspects of his collecting’, The Book Collector, 43, no. 1 (Spring 1994), pp 27-58.
 Frozen in time: the Fagel collection in the library of Trinity College Dublin, ed. by Timothy R. Jackson (Dublin, Lilliput Press, 2016).
 Dublin City Library & Archive, Gilbert Library Ms 146, ‘Joseph Cooper Walker, Letters addressed to lWilliam Hayley, 1786-1812’.
 Trinity College Dublin, Ms 10314, Graisberry ledger, 1777-1785, ff 272-5, 16 May 1783.
 Graisberry ledger, passim.
 38th. of George III, C.24. Sect.1.
 Freeman’s Journal, 3 June 1797; 17 February 1801.
 Dunton, Dublin scuffle, p. 111.
 Freeman’s Journal, 6 January 1784.
 Public Record Office of Northern Ireland: Ms D. 2977.
 Archer’s catalogue of books for 1793. The sale begins on Wednesday, the 3d. of April 1793 (Dublin, 80 Dame Street, 1793).
 A catalogue of books, the library of the late Rev. Dr Swift, Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin (Dublin, printed for George Faulkner, 1745). Time and place for the sale of them will be inserted in the Dublin Journal. Harold Williams, Dean Swift’s library with a facsimile of the original sale catalogue and some account of two manuscript lists of his books (Cambridge, 1932).
 R.M. Jephson to Edmond Malone. Sir James Prior, Life of Edmond Malone (London, Smith, Elder & Co., 1860), p. 198.