Book dated 1655 donated to the Brotherhood by mystery donor

30 August 2017

Staff sorting through donations to the Brotherhood in Melbourne have come across what appears to be a rare and possibly valuable donation – a book with a publication date of 1655. 'The First Book of Judgements' was printed by Thomas Roycroft in London, England, and appears to be a record of the outcomes of legal cases in London prior to 1655.


Manager of Brotherhood Books, Greg Simpson, posing with an old book.

It was wrapped in cardboard and bundled with other donated goods, so the identity of the donor is a complete mystery.

Manager of Brotherhood Books Greg Simpson says it looks to be authentic.

"It certainly looks every bit of 362 years of age. It’s printed in very antiquated fonts, and the language used is a very old style of English. It’s bound in what appears to be sheepskin, which may be why the cover is still intact" he says.

Greg says there have been a couple of books donated to Brotherhood Books in the past which date from the 1700s, so this could be the oldest he has encountered so far.

"We are now in the process of trying to find out more about it, contacting museums and antique book dealers, to determine its authenticity and true value," he says.

Greg spoke to Melbourne Radio 3AW Breakfast about the book.

You never know what you’ll find at Brotherhood Books, a Brotherhood social enterprise.

The First Book of Judgements, an old and browning book open to the first page
Spine of The First Book of Judgements

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