The Law Society has raised more than £900,000 from the sale of anti-Catholic polemical and associated artefacts bequeathed to it in the 19th century.
The Mendham Collection, assembled by Anglican clergyman Joseph Mendham (1769-1856), contained mostly 15th and 16th century books relating to the Reformation. Items included early Bible printings, liturgical texts, the first publications of the Church of England, and a collection of the Catholic Church’s notorious Index of Prohibited Books.
A total of 106 items were sold at Sotheby’s in London last week. A traictise (pictured) sold for £116,500 – six times more than the estimate.
Chancery Lane said that, despite the collection’s value to academics, it had become increasingly difficult to justify the ongoing costs of maintaining the items, which its members were unlikely to study.
A spokesperson said: ‘The sale of these items, which despite their academic value are of limited interest to solicitors, will allow us to provide cherished services to our members, such as the Law Society Library.’