Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Perkins, Henry

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PERKINS, HENRY (1778–1855), book collector, was born in 1778, and became a partner in the firm of Barclay, Perkins, & Co., brewers, Southwark. He was elected a fellow of the Linnean Society in 1825, and was also a fellow of the Geological and Horticultural Societies. In 1823 he commenced the formation of a library at his residence, Springfield, near Tooting, Surrey, which he soon enlarged at the sale of Mr. Dent's collection. Messrs. John and Arthur Arch of 61 Cornhill, London, were then appointed his buyers, and rapidly supplied him with many scarce and valuable books. He died at Dover on 15 April 1855, when his library came to his relative, Algernon Perkins of Hanworth Park, Middlesex, who died in 1870. The books were sold by Gadsden, Ellis, & Co. at Hanworth on 3, 4, 5, and 6 June 1873, the 865 lots producing 26,000l., being the largest amount ever realised for a library of the same extent; ten volumes alone going for ten thousand guineas. The ‘Mazarin Bible,’ two volumes, printed upon vellum, purchased for 504l., sold for 3,400l.; another copy, on paper, obtained for 195l., brought 2,690l.; ‘Biblia Sacra Latina,’ two volumes, printed upon vellum in 1462, the first edition of the Latin Bible with a date, bought at Dent's sale for 173l. 5s., sold for 780l. Miles Coverdale's Bible, 1535, imperfect, but no perfect copy known, purchased for 89l. 5s., brought 400l. Among the manuscripts, John Lydgate's ‘Sege of Troy’ on vellum, which cost 99l. 15s., went for 1,370l.; ‘Les Œuvres Diverses de Jean de Meun,’ a fifteenth-century manuscript of two hundred leaves, brought 690l., and ‘Les Cent Histoires de Troye,’ by Christine de Pisan, on vellum, with one hundred and fifteen miniatures, executed for Philip the Bold, duke of Burgundy, sold for 650l. The 865 lots averaged in the sale rather more than 30l. each.

[Times, 4, 5, 6, and 7 June 1873; Athenæum, 1 March 1873 pp. 279–80, 14 June 1873 pp. 762–3; Proceedings of Linnean Soc. of London, 1855–9, p. xliii; Livres payés en vente publique 1000 fr. et au-dessus, depuis 1866 jusqu'à ce jour, aperçu sur la vente Perkins à Londres, Étude Bibliographique par Philomneste Junior, Bordeaux, 1877; A Dictionary of English Book Collectors, pt. ii. September 1892.]

G. C. B.