Manuscript sale includes unique record of rents: Sotheby's estimates book made for King of Naples could fetch up to pounds 120,000

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A UNIQUE 14th-century rent-book made of wax tablets is to be auctioned next week at Sotheby's: about pounds 20,000 is expected for it, writes Dalya Alberge.

Although few of these tablets have survived - with only single examples rather than a whole book of them ever appearing on the market - wax was the most important medium used in the Middle Ages. Most, however, either melted or broke.

Sotheby's example, divided into compartments of vellum and wax, was in the collection of the late Andre Simon, the wine writer. It originally came from Polling Abbey in Bavaria, in the diocese of Augsburg. It was probably used by the cellarer on his rounds of abbey properties.

In the same sale of Western manuscripts and miniatures next Tuesday, a 15th- century lavish manuscript on horse medicine, produced for the King of Naples, is expected to fetch pounds 80,000 to pounds 120,000.

Christie's sale of Sevres porcelain supplied to King Louis Philippe in 1836 yesterday sold for pounds 331,275, above the estimate.

(Photograph omitted)