Rare cricket memorabilia on sale in London

Christie's will offer precious relics of international cricket from one of the world's oldest and most famous sporting establishments - MCC. These include a selection of cricket bibliography comprising poems, score books and cricket publications, said the auction house.

The 100 lots of "Sporting Books" on sale are estimated to be worth between 500 to 40,000 pounds. MCC expects to raise more than 300,000 pounds. The lots to be offered will be duplicate of the original collection and the proceeds will be used by MCC to sustain and care for core antiquities and acquire more cricket-related trivia.

The centre-piece of the sale will be a reproduction of a portrait of "The Young Cricketer - Portrait of Lewis Cage" by artist Katharine Lloyd, which was hung in the pavilion at Lord's for the past 60 years.

It is estimated at 6,000 pounds. It was commissioned to coincide with the opening of the Lord's Museum in the 1950s. The first independent works on cricket ever published were verse accounts of cricket matches, mock heroic poems in the genre established by Alexander Pope's "Rape of the Lock" (1714).

Highlights of the MCC duplicate sale include not only the first of these humorous poems, James Dance's "Cricket: An Heroic Poem", written in London in 1744, but also three rare cricket poems that appeared as 18th century pamphlets.

John Duncombe's "Surry Triumphant" and John Burnby's "Kentish Cricketers" were written by clergymen and published in 1773. The poems - "Cricket: An Heroic Poem" - bear a pre-sale estimate of 15,000 pounds. Poems "Surry Triumphant" and "Kentish Cricketers" bound together in a special volume are estimated at 25,000 pounds.

The fourth of the 18th century poems is the anonymous "The Noble Cricketers … addresss'd to Two of the Idlest Lords in His Majesty's Kingdom". Composed in 1778, it is a satire on two famously indolent, cricket-loving aristocrats, the Duke of Dorset and the Earl of Tankerville, who were accused of preferring to play cricket while England was losing the war against the American colonies.


It is estimated at 10,000 pounds. Other highlights include a complete set of Wisden's almanac that has been in print since 1864.

Also on offer will be all of Wisden's important, if less well known predecessors, most notably three editions of the rare scorebooks produced by Samuel Britcher in 1792, 1793 and 1796.

The importance of these works is highlighted by the fact that their author, Britcher, was an official scorer for MCC, and the first person to produce an annual scorebook on a regular basis.

Of probably even greater rarity is William Epps's "Cricket: A Collection of All the Grand Matches played in England from 1771 to 1791", published in Rochester, Kent, in 1799. It is expected to fetch 70,000 pounds.

Said the curator of MCC Collections, Adam Chadwick: "The MCC collections continue to attract an increasing number of admirers, and in 2009 we set a record having welcomed 60,000 people through the doors.

"We are committed in our aim to continue developing the accessibility of the collections, and to maintain them as the world's most important celebration of the history of cricket. The proceeds will provide MCC with the much needed funds required to enhance and conserve the core collection," Chadwick said.

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