Described by Classic Angling as “the sale of the decade” this collection is believed by many to be the most important sale of its kind for at least 30 years. John Simpson’s discerning eye for quality, condition, and comprehensiveness is reflected throughout, with books ranging from the 17th century to the 20th century Honey Dun Press, of which he was a director.


For anglers who aspire to have a fishing library of note this sale provides a rare opportunity. It takes place in two parts – on 15th February and 2nd June 2005 – at Bonhams New Bond Street Gallery in London.


Standard works of angling literature are found in numerous variant editions and issues, presentation copies and authors’ own copies, many beautifully presented in elegant cases by Aquarius.


Highlights include:

A copy of W.H. Aldam’s Quaint Treatise on “Flees” with a signed photograph of the author, inscribed by the editors to Mary Ogden Smith who tied the majority of the 25 specimen flies mounted in the book.

Estimate: £1,500 – 2,000


The unique copy of a facsimile of Thomas Barker’s Delight, or, the Art of Angling printed on vellum in 1820, with an auction history and provenance stretching back to Alfred Denison, the nineteenth-century fishing book collector.

Estimate: £1,500 – 2,000


Several copies of Blacker’s Art of Angling, some signed by the author and with flies mounted with attractive paper seals – a method that anticipated the sumptuous volumes produced by Aldam some thirty years later.

Estimates around £1,500 – 2,000


A copy of The Angler’s Vade Mecum by James Chetham with an ink sketch and manuscript poem dating from 1707, by William Ellay of Thirsk, including the couplet “Now happy fisherman now twitch ye line / How thy rod bends: behold ye prize is thine!”

Estimate: £600 – 800


Joseph Crawhall’s autograph manuscript of The Compleatest Angling Booke That Ever Was Writ interleaved with the printed text, and with several letters relating to the author; this copy is inscribed to Crawhall’s wife Margaret on her birthday, in 1859.

Estimate: £4,000 – 6,000


One of 100 deluxe copies of Frederic M. Halford’s autobiography, signed by the author; the collection includes archives relating to the publishing of Halford’s works, and copies inscribed by him to noted figures in this history of angling such as G.E.M. Skues, T. Hawksley, John Henderson and others.

Estimate: £1,500 – 2,000


Lots with Trans-Atlantic appeal include:

George M.L. La Branche’s The Dry Fly and Fast Water, inscribed by the author to Arthur Gilbey, a Committee Member of the Fly Fishers’ Club.

Estimate: £100 – 150


A copy of Edward Ringwood Hewitt’s Telling on the Trout inscribed to G.E.M.

Skues, pleading, “next time you must fish with me and show me why I do not get more fish in hard places.”

Estimate: £100 – 150


Alongside proof copies and books distinguished by their fine provenances are more ephemeral items such as fishing broadsides, trade cards, catalogues and manuscript fly books.




The black tulip of angling literature – The Fly Fisher’s Legacy by George Scotcher published in 1810 – comes to market at the Bonhams sale of Angling Books on 2nd June in New Bond Street.


“The Fly Fisher’s Legacy is one of the rarest books in angling literature; so rare that neither the Library of the British Museum, nor the National Libraries of Scotland or Wales have one. It is an important book for several reasons, not the least being that it was the first angling book to contain a coloured plate illustrating some of the insects imitated by anglers. It was the first angling book devoted entirely fly-fishing and certainly one of the first to mention the use of stiffer rods and tapered lines…” wrote Jack Heddon in `Scotcher Notes’ in 1975.


This first edition of the Fly Fisher’s Legacy with a hand-coloured frontispiece, contemporary maroon cloth, preserved in a calf-backed solander box is estimated to attract bids of between £4,000-6,000 at the auction.


Another stunning fishing book is Leonard West’s, `The Natural Trout Fly and its Imitation’ published by the author in 1912, which includes examples of real trout flies in sunken containers in the book. The book is described by West as an `Angler’s Record of Insects Seen at the Waterside and the Method of Making their Imitations’. This first edition, de luxe copy, is one of approximately 50 sets. It holds 108 actual specimens of flies within 9 sunken mounts, and 16 plates (13 in colour), additional portrait photograph of the author signed “Yours truly Leonard West” on the mount. There are four additional plates of actual specimens of hackles and feathers within sunken mounts, one mount containing 25 actual hooks. Covered in black morocco gilt and preserved in morocco-backed solander box it is estimated to make £6,000-8,000 at the auction.


First and Best British Book on Angling in Norway

 A fine copy of the first, and best, British book on angling in Norway written in the 1800’s is a scarce work, issued at the instigation of J.

Jones, a tackle dealer of Jermyn Street, who wrote the introduction. It includes very fine hand-coloured plates of flies by J. and H. Adlard. It should attract bids of £3,000-4,000.