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    Friday, October 29th, 2010

    An 1843 edition of A Christmas Carol inscribed by Charles Dickens. (click to enlarge)

    Competition for rare first edition works of literature was fierce at Sotheby’s in London on October 28.

    Poems inscribed by T.S. Eliot for Virginia Woolf. (click to enlarge)

    It was the first of a series of sales from “The Library of an English Bibliophile”.  Many of the works on offer were inscribed by the authors to people who played a major part in their lives and their oeuvre. The sale realised £3,160,257, comfortably above the top estimate of £2,185,500-2,943,500.

    The top lot was Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol, 1843, inscribed to W.C. Macready.  It made £181,250.  An 1847 edition of Wuthering Heights made £163,250 and an 1813 edition of Pride and Prejudice sold for £139,250.

    A 1922 version of Ulysses inscribed to Raymonde Linoissier made £121,250 and Poems 1920 inscribed by T.S. Eliot to Virginia Woolf made £91,250.

    The quality of the works on offer drew bids from around the world.  Prices include the buyer’s premium. Sotheby’s buyer’s premium is 25% of the hammer price on the first £25·000, 20% of the hammer price up to and including £500·000, and 12% thereafter on each lot.

    Sotheby’s will include two offerings intimately connected with Jane Austen – Britain’s most beloved authoress – in its sale of English Literature, History and Children’s Books & Illustrations in London, on December 16: an extremely rare first edition of Emma – arguably the author’s finest work – given by Austen to her  fellow novelist Maria Edgeworth, and the family’s Wedgwood dinner set, which Jane Austen helped to choose and would have used on countless occasions.
    Signed by Maria Edgeworth this is the only known copy for Emma given by Jane Austen to a fellow writer.  It is estimated at £70,000-£100,000.  The dinner service is estimated at 50,000-70,000.
    EMMA made a hammer price with buyer’s premium of £79,250.  The Wedgwood dinner service failed to find a buyer.