The collection contains an illuminated testimonial presented to the Rev. Capel John Sewell by teachers of public elementary schools in the borough of Nottingham and in the Poor Law Unions of Basford and Bingham, on the occasion of his retirement as Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools for the district, on 10 October 1885.
The testimonial takes the form of a large bound volume with embossed design on front cover surrounding a metal title plate. It includes a black and white photograph of Sewell; an illuminated title page; a black and white inkwash or watercolour illustration of a house, with a man and woman playing tennis, a woman with a parasol, and a girl, entitled 'Mansfield Woodhouse'; an illuminated introduction; a black and white inkwash or watercolour illustration of a house, with a woman with a parasol and two children, entitled 'Winthorpe'; and the signatures of 234 teachers in the Nottingham area, and the names of the schools that they represented.
The illuminations were made by Marcus Ward and Co. Ltd, Illuminators, in coloured ink and gold leaf.