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Epps book bought for £150,000-plus

AN anonymous buyer has paid a stunning £151,250 for a single edition of William Epps’s Cricket. A Collection of All the Grand Matches played in England from 1771 to 1791 . The price, a record for one cricket book, more than doubled the experts' prediction when the tome was auctioned at Christie's on November 17.

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Published in Rochester in 1799, Epps's book was considered by many as the most important historical publication on cricket in the later 18th century. It was intended to supplement the publications of Samuel Britcher, which ran from 1790 to 1805, and was compiled from the manuscripts of noblemen such as the Duke of Dorset and Earl of Tankerville.

Not even the British Library holds a copy, and the MCC, who sold off a list of items for £685,225, possessed two copies before the auction.

The painting called The Young Cricketer – Portrait of Lewis Cage by Katharine Lloyd, was sold for £28,750 at well above the eestimated price of £4,000-6,000. This charming portrait, having hung in the Pavilion at Lord’s for the past 60 years, is after an original by Francis Cotes RA and was commissioned to coincide with the opening of the Lord’s Museum in the 1950s. MCC offered the painting following the acquisition of the original portrait.

Other highlights from the auction included Samuel Britcher's A Complete List of All the Grand Matches of Cricket in the Year 1793 , selling at £55,250. Britcher was an official scorer for Marylebone Cricket Club, and the first person to produce an annual scorebook on a regular basis. MCC recently secured a seemingly unique volume of his work, which means that the club now owns the only complete series of his scores.

Adam Chadwick, curator of collections at MCC, said: `MCC is delighted with the results of the sale. All lots offered at Christie’s were duplicate items from the MCC collections and the considerable funds realised will be dedicated to future acquisitions as the club seeks to broaden and strengthen what is the world’s finest museum, library and archive devoted to cricket.’

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