The James Watt sale, art & science : the property of the late Lord Gibson-Watt and members of the Gibson-Watt family (catalogue for an auction conducted by Sotheby's, London, 20 March 2003)
London, Sotheby's, 2006
(27 cm), 299 (1) pp., illustrations (most in colour). 564 lots. Publisher’s pictorial wrappers. - Sale includes books from the library of James Watt, Scottish engineer and inventor, 1736-1819, consigned by the Gibson-Watt family. Watt’s papers had passed to Birmingham Central Library in the 1930s (by gift from the Muirhead family) and 1993 (by purchase), and there was little important autograph material, except for “Essay on a new system of characters for chemical subjects” (1788) which made £30,000 (cf. David F. Larder, “An Unpublished Chemical Essay of James Watt” in Notes and Records. Royal Society of London, volume 24, 1969-1970, pp.221-232). The sale realised £1,991,509, more than doubling the pre-sale estimate; only 28 lots failed to find a buyer. Offered individually, 17 volumes of bound pamphlets made in excess of £127,000; a copy of Sir William Beechey’s portrait of Watt made £153,440 (estimate £40,000-£60,000), and Beechey’s portrait of Boulton made £100,800 (estimate £40,000-£60,000). ¶ Copiously annotated, partly priced.