The library of the chandler John Ratcliffe (1707-76) was amassed before the onset of 'bibliomania', and perfectly illustrates the last days of a period of book collecting when scholars and commoners could hope to compete with wealthy noblemen. The collection contained over a hundred incunabula, including forty-eight Caxtons, and a fine selection of sixteenth-century English books, alongside contemporary literature and Presbyterian tracts. Many of Ratcliffe's incunabula had been purchased from James West, others from Anthony Askew. In turn, his books were acquired by a circle of his contemporaries, including William Herbert, Charles Chauncy and William Hunter. However, the purchase of some of the finest books by the aristocratic Justin MacCarthy Reagh provided a hint of what was to come. Reissued here is James Christie's 1776 sale catalogue, featuring handwritten annotations by an attendee at the auction who recorded the prices paid and the names of buyers.