Historic medical books – some up to 500 years old – have been sold off by a Birmingham health group to raise funds so it can pay the rent.
The Birmingham Medical Institute raised more than £400,000 from the sale of half its 5,000-strong library to help it cope with rising rent and falling income.
A second sale will be held on July 26.
Before the auction, the organisation’s president, Prof Keith Shinton, said: “It’s a sad day for all the medical people in Birmingham.”
When the Institute in Edgbaston was founded in the 19th century it set up a medical library using books donated by Birmingham General Hospital, the Birmingham library and the Midland Medical Society.
The institute still keeps doctors, dentists and nurses up to date with medical practice, but said demand for the courses it offered was falling.
A spokesman said: “The library has been part of the Institute for a very long time, but given the challenges posed by the financial climate and the changing face of the NHS, the reluctant decision was reached to sell the books no longer in current use.”
The most expensive book, Edward Jenner’s book on smallpox from 1798, fetched £20,000.
And John of Gaddesden’s Rosa Anglica (1502), the first printed medical book written by an Englishman and the oldest book in the collection, made £11,500.
Another high sale was Hippocrates’ Works in Latin, the true first edition of 1525, which raised £17,500.
Initially, auctioneer Chris Albury, from Dominic Winters in Gloucester, said: “We are absolutely delighted with the result.
“There was worldwide interest, as you would expect for such an important collection.
“We hoped part one would realise more than £300,000 so to beat that figure by £100,000 was tremendous.
“All the more expensive highlights were keenly fought over and went beyond the estimate.
“We’re very proud the highest price from the auction was for a copy of Jenner’s famous book on smallpox from 1798, which doubled its estimate to fetch £20,000.”