Simon Vickers retires as head of Lyon & Turnbull’s Rare Books department

Simon Vickers, who has led Lyon & Turnbull’s Rare Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Photographs department for the last 17 years, is retiring from his role. The department’s new head will be his colleague Cathy Marsden. Image courtesy of Lyon & Turnbull

Simon Vickers, who has led Lyon & Turnbull’s Rare Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Photographs department for the last 17 years, is retiring from his role to become a consultant. His colleague Cathy Marsden will now take the helm. Image courtesy of Lyon & Turnbull

EDINBURGH, Scotland – After 17 years at the helm of the Rare Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Photographs department at Lyon & Turnbull, Simon Vickers is retiring from his full-time position to become a consultant. He will pass the baton of leading an internationally-respected department to his colleague of 10 years, Cathy Marsden.

Simon Vickers has worked in the rare books trade most of his life. The grandson of the distinguished American book dealer C.A. Stonehill, he joined the London booksellers Maggs Bros immediately after university before moving onto Sotheby’s in New Bond Street and then Cheffins in Cambridge. He began working at Lyon & Turnbull in 2005.

During his long tenure he has overseen the growth of the department, increasing the number of dedicated sales to three per year, and boosting the yearly turnover of the department to more than £1 million (about $1.2 million). He has managed the sale of many fine collections including, among others, Viscount Strathallan’s library from Stobhall, the fine travel library of the Northern Lighthouse Heritage Trust, the esoteric library of the Plymouth artist Robert Lenkiewicz and the library of the last Earl of Lovelace, a descendant of Ada Byron, the only daughter of the celebrated poet Lord Byron.

“Most memorable of all the consignments,” he said, recalling, “was perhaps the two articulated lorries that arrived from Dublin, bringing 10 tons of rare medical and related texts from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland. Cataloging them was an epic task. We dispersed them in eight sales over two years.”

Vickers will continue to contribute to the department in his new role as consultant. However, he will pass most of his responsibilities as head of department to Cathy Marsden.

Marsden joined Lyon & Turnbull in 2012 as a book specialist, following the completion of a postgraduate diploma in museum studies and an undergraduate degree in art history and German from the University of St Andrews. As the assistant head of department, she has been the main point of contact for those buying and selling at auction and enjoyed the department’s finest hour in 2022, when she discovered a copy of the US Declaration of Independence among the contents of a Scottish country house. After extensive research, the document was confirmed to be the copy of the famous 1823 William Stone printing of the Declaration prepared for signer Charles Carroll. It was later sold in partnership with Freeman’s in Philadelphia for a record price of $4.4 million.

“It has been a privilege to work with Simon for the past 11 years – he really has been my mentor in the world of rare books,” Marsden said.” I am delighted to be carrying the baton of head of department forward, and I feel I speak for the whole team when I say we are very pleased that Simon will still be with us in a consultancy capacity. I am excited to see what unusual and exciting lots we can uncover to drive the department forward into the next decade.”