A small handbook containing the rules of rugby has been sold at auction for a far higher price than originally anticipated.
The 19th century copy of the rule book was sold at auction by Rogers Jones, in a sale entitled “Sweat, Mud and Blood.” According to Ben Rogers Jones, the auctioneer, the book is possibly the smallest and most valuable book they have sold within the last quarter of a century.
The original laws of rugby were produced in longhand by three students in 1845, who attended the Rugby school. Crossley and Billington, a local printer, published the rules as a small handbook which would fit inside a waistcoat pocket during games. The book is called “The Laws of Football as Played at Rugby School” with just 33 rules in 17 pages. The cover of the book, covered in red card, displays the initials HW, which refer to an inscription on the inside of the rule book, which reads “H Waddington, October 3rd 1851”. It is believed that the inscription may refer to either Horace Waddington, who was a pupil at the school from 1850 to 1853, or William Henry Waddington, a statesman and future Prime Minister of France.
The rules were discovered by a former book store owner, hidden amongst a pile of rugby books. Originally, the book’s value was estimated at between £1,000 and £1,500 but actually sold for £13,000 to a UK collector. The new owner may find that the book will be best protected from dust and other elements by displaying in an antique cabinet.
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