Rare Tudor science books written by the man who invented the protractor are set to fetch £30,000 at auction – after they were found blocking a leaky thatched roof.
The sammelband – a collection of texts printed separately and then bound together – contains ten rare scientific works and still has its contemporary binding.
The ‘very very’ rare books were found under bird droppings and straw-covered stubble in North Wiltshire, and may have been there for centuries.
The collection was sold for five shillings in 1716 and is now estimated at £20.00-30,000 next month.
It was first printed in 1589, 42 years after the death of Henry VIII and 31 years after the reign of Elizabeth I.
The sammelband – a collection of separately printed texts later bound together – is estimated at £20,000-30,000 at auction next month
The collection includes a book by Tudor author Thomas Blundeville, who invented the protractor. That alone may be worth £20,000, say auctioneers
The scientific collection includes texts by Thomas Blundeville, Edward Wright and Leonard Digges. The books date back to the 16th century during the reign of the Tudors in Britain
It includes a book by Tudor author Thomas Blundeville, who invented the protractor. That alone can be worth £20,000, according to the auctioneers.
Chris Albury of Dominic Winter Auctioneers said they appeared to belong to a ‘Viscount Campden’.
Likely one of the first three Viscounts, the find is surprising as none were known as particularly scientific or “book” men, Mr Albury said.
The sammelband has been sold and still bears the signatures of owners Robert Winkles (1716) and Thomas Banning (1817).
Who was Thomas Blundeville?
Thomas Blundeville was an English mathematician and writer.
He was born around 1522 in Norfolk and died in 1606 in Norwich.
He is credited with inventing the protractor, now a common tool in classrooms.
He described it as a semi-circular instrument for measuring angles.
He also wrote on the art of riding, geography, travel, navigation, astronomy and translated works from Italian into English.
There are two further 17th century ink property signatures of Robert Hillary and VW on the title page of the first text.
Written by famous authors including Thomas Blundeville, Edward Wright and Leonard Digges. The books date back to the 16th century during the reign of the Tudors in Britain.
A book by Blundeville; According to the auctioneers, ‘A brief description of universal maps and cards, and their use: together with Ptholemey’s use of his tables’ may be worth £20,000.
Mr. Blundeville was a pioneering humanist writer and mathematician.
He is known for his work on logic, astronomy, and for inventing the protractor, a daily classroom tool in most schools.
Mr Albury said: “It’s an incredible find in that it was discovered in the last few years under the thatch of an outhouse under straw and bird poo and is possibly there. remained intact for centuries.”
“When I first suggested the £15,000-20,000 auction estimate, the owners were amazed and delighted.
“Every book is rare and some of them very, very rare.
The sammelband was sold for five shillings in 1716 and had a history of owners, some whose names are written inside
“I had to carefully put it together to see what was missing before offering a review and was amazed at how complete it was and how neat the binder had been.
“The binder was responsive enough to cut around those occasional larger page extensions and bend the edges in the text.
“I don’t know if my estimate will turn out to be a massive underestimate, but it’s certainly very special.”
Another text in the collection, by Thomas Hill, explicitly rejects Copernicism – the idea that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun.
Mr Hill was one of only two 16th-century astronomers to do so.
It also includes descriptions of America and Peru, regions largely unknown to Europeans at that time.
Another, by Leonard Digges, supports the idea that the universe is infinite.
This text contains his full diagrams to explain his theories – which are missing in most surviving copies.
The books will be auctioned on Wednesday, April 6, as part of Dominic Winter Auctioneers Printed Books, Maps & Documents, Early English and Continental Literature & Science.
A text by Mr Blundeville last sold for over £54,000 at a 2007 auction in New York.