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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 October 2005, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Old atlases fetch 6m at auction
The scene of the fire
The atlases were saved from the flames in 2004
A rare collection of historic atlases has sold at auction for more than 6m - a year after they came close to being destroyed in a large manor house fire.

The late Lord Wardington decided to sell the lot after a blaze at his family home at Wardington Manor, in Banbury, Oxfordshire, in April 2004.

The 700 volumes included a rare Doria Atlas from 1570 that alone fetched nearly 1.5m.

They were expected to raise 5m at two sales, but exceeded expectations.

The first of the two auctions was held at Sotheby's on Tuesday.

A Sotheby's spokesman said: "The collection has sold extremely well and there were a number of lots which exceeded our estimates."

Human chain

Known as the Wardington library, the lots offered for sale included 60,000 maps from six centuries of cartography and every major map-maker.

They were assembled over half a century by Lord Wardington, who died in July at the age of 81.

The atlases were saved by villagers, who formed a human chain to get the collection out from the manor house during last year's fire.

Lord Wardington decided to auction the folios to cover the costs of restoring and refurbishing the premises.

A second selection will also go on sale at the London auction house early next year.

Inquiries into manor fire go on
17 Apr 04 |  Oxfordshire

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