Wisbech collectors antique Tudor manuscript going up for auction

The two volumes of the swan identification manuscript

The two volumes of the swan identification manuscript - Credit: Sworder

A rare Tudor manuscript designed to help with swan-keeping in the era when mute swans were owned by the English crown will be auctioned this summer. 

The two-volume manuscript, from the estate of Wisbech antique dealer Peter Crofts, was used from the 16th to the 19th century by landowners in Norfolk and Suffolk to help identify swans owned by the crown. 

The first volume, dated 1566, contains over 600 marks that precede 19 pages of manuscript notes concerning the ‘Laws and Ordinances regarding swan’. 

The two volume manuscript is going to be put to auction by Sworder Fine Art Auctioneers 

The two volume manuscript is going to be put to auction by Sworder Fine Art Auctioneers - Credit: Sworder

The second volume is dated 1834 and includes notes on swan marks followed by 84 pages of swan marks and an index of owners. 

The names start with the Dukes of Norfolk and Suffolk, on to the Bishop of Ely and the Dean of York and finish with wealthy landowners. 

The item is going to be in Sworders’ August 23 sale of Books and Maps in Stansted Mountfitchet. 

Some of the markings detailed in the manuscript

Some of the markings detailed in the manuscript - Credit: Sworder

The price is guided between £8000 and £16,000. 

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Peter Crofts was an antiques dealer who ran an antiques shop in Wisbech for 51 years alongside his wife Patricia Croft. 

The shop could be found at 117 Elm High Road, Wisbech until 2001 when he unfortunately passed. 

The manuscript comes from the extensive collection owned by the Peter Crofts estate

The manuscript comes from the extensive collection owned by the Peter Crofts estate - Credit: Sworder

Before getting into the antiques business, he acted as a volunteer in the Fleet Air Army after finishing at Wisbech Grammar School. 

He went to the United States to do his training however in 1945, the engine of his Corsair F4U set alight and left him with serious injuries and eventually two amputated legs at the age of 20. 

Peter got into the antiques business under the guidance of Stamford dealer Major Bernard Edinburgh, soon becoming a member of the British Antique Dealers Association by 1958. 

A close up view of one of the volumes of the Tudor manuscript

A close up view of one of the volumes of the Tudor manuscript - Credit: Sworder

Sworders has previously sold parts of Peters estate. 

In December 2021, they held a ‘Fine Interiors’ auction and used over 100 items from his art collection that included items such as a jewel encrusted walking stick that’s believed to be a gift from Napoleon Bonaparte to a trusted general of his, a painting of the church St Peter and St Paul from the late 18th century and another painting called ‘Study of Feathers’ created by Sarah Biffin from 1812. 

Other paintings, pieces of glassware, vases and a range of furniture were also offered. 

Antiques from late Wisbech dealer Peter Crofts to be sold at Sworders’ December 14-15 Fine Interiors sale.

Antiques from late Wisbech dealer Peter Crofts to be sold at Sworder's December 14-15 Fine Interiors sale. - Credit: SWORDER

Antiques from Wisbech dealer Peter Crofts to be sold at Sworder's December 14-15 Fine Interiors sale: Napoleon walking stick

Antiques from late Wisbech dealer Peter Crofts to be sold at Sworder's December 14-15 Fine Interiors sale: Napoleon walking stick - Credit: SWORDER

Antiques from late Wisbech dealer Peter Crofts to be sold at Sworder's December 14-15 Fine Interiors sale: Wisbech scene

Antiques from late Wisbech dealer Peter Crofts to be sold at Sworder's December 14-15 Fine Interiors sale: Wisbech scene - Credit: SWORDER

Antiques from late Wisbech dealer Peter Crofts to be sold at Sworder's December 14-15 Fine Interiors sale.

Antiques from late Wisbech dealer Peter Crofts to be sold at Sworder's December 14-15 Fine Interiors sale: Biffin - Credit: SWORDER