Sotheby, Samuel Leigh (1805 -1861)
Samuel Leigh Sotheby was the younger son of Samuel Sotheby, and his first wife Harriet Barton. At an early age he entered the family firm of auctioneers, and was responsible for many of their finest book catalogues. On the death of his father in 1842, he took into partnership his chief accountant, John Wilkinson, who after 1863 was made a senior partner. Wilkinson was the salesman, Sotheby being responsible for the catalogues. He edited and published the materials left by his father in The typography of the fifteenth century: being Specimens of the productions of the early continental presses, exemplified in a collection of facsimiles from one hundred works, together with their watermarks. London, 1845; and Principia typographia: the block books. 3 vols. (London, 1858); and a privately printed supplement to the latter, Memoranda relating to the Block Books preserved in the Bibliothèque Impériale in Paris made October 1858. These publications are important in the demonstration of the use of watermarks in the study of incunabula. The manuscript collections on which they are based are in the British Library, and are bound up in thirty-six folio volumes. Sotheby was the owner of a remarkable collection of auction catalogues and privately printed library catalogues which was sold in 1831. The remainder of his library was sold in three portions on 5 May 1858, 22 August 1861 and 8 February 1862.