Calligrapher for Sir George Grey - Cape of Good Hope and C.T. Railway & Dock Co.


Published: Westminster, 1858

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This remarkable item is the original hand written contract for what is effectively the first inter town railway in South Africa.  Signed and sealed by Douglas Galton for Governor Sir George Grey and by G. Latham Browne for the Cape Town Railway and Dock Company, Westminster, 5 October 1858. MANUSCRIPT IN INK in a fine calligraphic script on Vellum. The margins are ruled in red. The document comprises 45 pages of closely written text on 23 leaves, elephant folio (482 x 312mm.), with two additional loosely inserted leaves of (matching) Supplementary Articles, Westminster , 21 December 1858, separately signed and sealed as above. Included in the bound document are manuscript copies of the First to Fifth Schedules (dated 22 March 1858 to 20th May 1858) referred to in the main Contract. The Fifth Schedule bears a third set of original signatures and seals. Twelve Impressed Duty Stamps (1 Pound or 10 Shillings) are present in the margins of several pages. Together with a magnificent huge folded MANUSCRIPT PLAN/DRAWING OF THE PROPOSED LINE OF THE RAILWAY, ink and watercolour on paper, signed by the engineer William Brounger, Douglas Galton and G. Latham Browne and dated 9 March 1858, 952 x 1320mm., mounted on parchment, and bound in at the rear. Also bound in at the rear is a 20 folding page to scale Section of the proposed Cape Town to Wellington line, dated 1858 and signed by Brounger on the first leaf, and again by him and Galton on the last leaf. The entire document is bound in red leather with gilt titles on the front board and with marbled endpapers and leather hinges.

Condition.  Importantly, the documents themselves are in Very Good Plus to Fine condition. The manuscript plan is in fine condition. The leather binding is moderately rubbed and has edge wear. Both front and rear endpapers show remnants of paper reflecting removal of ? documents which had been affixed to these pages.

Sold with:

1. Cape of Good Hope. CONTRACT Entered Into Between The Colonial Government Through its Agent , Captain David Galton, R.E. and The Cape Town Railway and Dock Company For Construction of a Railway Between Cape Town and Wellington. This is the official Blue Paper and printed version of the above original document (& is identical in text) presented to Both Houses of Parliament in the Cape in 1859. 24pp. Slim folio in the original blue printed wraps. Saul Solomon & Co. Cape Town. 1859. The wraps are tape backed and with somewhat frayed edges and some stains but a good copy.

2. THE RAILWAY POLKA. Composed On the Occasion of Turning the Sod of The First Railway in South Africa and Dedicated With Permission to His Excellency Sir George Grey, K.C. B., Governor of The Cape Of Good Hope, by Master James C. Roome. Cape Town. 1859. 3pp. Sheet Music plus decorated printed cover, 350 x 260mm. Frayed and laid down on good quality paper and backed with the same paper. 

This Lot is of the greatest importance and is arguably the most important piece of manuscript South African “Railroadiana” extant. The Cape Town to Wellington Railway line is effectively the first inter town railway line in South Africa. Although the short railway line in Natal from the Point to Durban (only about 2 miles in length) was completed before the Cape Town to Wellington line (26 June 1860, as against 13 February 1862 for the first stage of the Cape Line), this short Natal line hardly deserves the honour of being the first railway line of major note. Furthermore, the Natal Railway Company was only formed in 1859, so the Cape Town to Wellington proposal and contract (on offer here), was the first to be completed.

It is with great pride that I offer this museum quality piece on this auction and in view of its importance and associated export restrictions, I believe it should remain in South Africa and am only offering it to South African bidders. I am providing multiple images of this lot but am willing to answer any questions which may arise from interested parties. 

I would recommend that any parties interested in this item or in South African Railway history in general should log in to the excellent article on the topic and on this manuscript written by Prof. Kathy Munro on The Heritage Portal at the following link:

  • Binding Condition: Very Good
  • Overall Condition: Internally Fine
  • Size: Elephant Folio
  • Sold By: Ronald Levine - Modern First Editions
  • Contact Person: Ronald Levine
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone: 011643 8437
  • Preferred Payment Methods: EFT for South African customers and International Bank Tranfer for customers abroad. I am unable to accept payment by credit card.
  • Trade Associations: SABDA

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