Patrick Parkinson alerted me to the sale of the remaining stock of the late U.K.-based rare book seller David Edmunds. Thank you.
"I recall that you have previously reported on his death. His library will be auctioned on March 30. Not sure if there is anything numismatic here. Anyone collecting British banking history would have to consider this a very important sale."
Here's an excerpt from the catalogue forward by Jenny Edmunds.
BOOKS FROM THE REMAINING STOCK OF JOHN DRURY RARE BOOKS
DAVID EDMUNDS (1939-2022)
Many will already know that David tragically died in a car accident in February last year. He was on
his way to view a few items in an auction in Colchester which is what he loved to do, and which had
been his passion and working life for almost 60 years.
David grew up in a huge rambling rectory in a tiny village in northwest Essex where his father was
the Anglican parson. There were the remains of a Roman villa in fields nearby and David and his
brother spent many happy hours digging and finding hundreds of ancient coins and other artefacts.
This evidently sparked a love of antiquities and in particular collecting coins and medals. He later
read modern history at Jesus College, Cambridge, and his knowledge of English history was immense.
His coin and medal collection grew, and with it, inevitably, his research into the collection of the
required books on the subject. Thereby began acquisition of numismatic books, which before long
grew into a full-time business.
David called the business John Drury Rare Books, rather than David Edmunds Rare Books (
because I didn't want people turning
up at the house with their old family bibles!), and, in any case, Drury was a family name. The first 30 or so catalogues were
mostly on numismatics, but from then on, the subject range widened into economics, banking, law, philosophy, education, and
social history. In those days there were no computers, and I would come home after a day's work in Colchester and type up (on
a typewriter) catalogues from David's handwritten notes. And he never really mastered a keyboard – his cataloguing to the end
was entirely by hand. He only used the computer
to look things up – ODNB, Wikipedia, LHD, BL, etc. It wasn't long before it
became essential for me to become properly involved and become tech-savvy. And so our roles were defined – he did the
buying, cataloguing, and packing, while I did the database work, accounts, invoicing, photography, etc.
In 1979 we bought a derelict cottage on the south bank of the Stour Estuary, with no utilities at all, not even a road to get to the
cottage, but it had a wonderful view. For 20 years we had no mains electricity, but had a huge, noisy, generator. In those days
there was quite a lot of business done with the Japanese trade, and communication was generally by Fax. We had to explain to
the Japanese that they would have to wait for 15 minutes or so before sending a fax, so that we could turn on the generator!
How times have changed. We now just grumble about our slow broadband speed.
The other aspect of antiquarian bookselling is attending auctions and book fairs. I remember the excitement of ‘doing' our first
Olympia and New York. These events were marvellous for catching up with the friends we made in the trade, and which I will
To read the auction catalogue, see:
FINE BOOKS, MANUSCRIPTS
AND WORKS ON PAPER
including books from the remaining stock of
John Drury Rare Books
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
DAVID R. DRURY EDMUNDS (1939-2022)
Wayne Homren, Editor
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