A second sale of historical medical books by a Birmingham health group has realised £300,000.
The Birmingham Medical Institute has raised more than £700,000 in total after selling its 5,000-strong library to help cope with rising rents and falling income.
The Edgbaston-based institute, founded in 1875 as a library, is one of the country’s oldest medical groups. Its president, Prof Keith Shinton, described the auction as ‘a sad day for all the medical people in Birmingham’.
The sale was held in two parts, with the most recent netting £38,000 for a 17th century midwifery manuscript by Derby male midwife Percival Willughby. It was purchased by an American collector.
Other highlights included a letter by renowned 17th century physician Edward Jenner, which was bought for £14,000. All 380 lots were sold for a total of more than £300,000.
Chris Albury, auctioneer from Dominic Winters, in Gloucester, said: “The midwifery manuscript was the most expensive item from the two sales.
“We had put a guide price on it of between £20,000 to £30,000 and would have been happy with that amount.
“But there was an American collector who was smitten with it. He is pleased to have won it and can’t wait to get his hands on it.
“These sort of things don’t really turn up with any regularity and it is very specialist. We are very pleased with the amount it fetched.”
In the first auction, the highest price was for a copy of Jenner’s famous book on smallpox from 1798, which doubled its estimate of £20,000.
When the Institute was founded in the 19th century it set up a medical library using books donated by Birmingham General Hospital, the Birmingham library and the Midland Medical Society.
The institute still keeps doctors, dentists and nurses up to date with medical practice, but demand for the courses it offers are falling.