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    Thursday, June 30th, 2022
    Important Irish George II mahogany silver table at Rory Rogers Ltd. priced at £115,000

    Sales were brisk at the preview day at Masterpiece, the UK’s leading art fair which opens to the public today and runs until July 6.  The fair, which is normally a fixture on the summer calendar in London, is on again after three years and most people seem delighted to be back. Visitors can view and buy the finest works of art, design, furniture, and jewellery – from antiquity to the present day – secure in the knowlege that everything on display has been vetted.

    This is a slightly slimmed down and possibly less international than usual version, with 127 stands as opposed to 150 in 2019.  There are various reasons for this, TEFAF Maastricht – normally on in March –  is ending today adding to a  busy time of year in the international season.  Brexit has added layers of bureaucracy to the work of most dealers. The London market, post Covid and post Brexit, is coming from behind.  London remains a major global location but there is a sense about the fair that feels more local this year.

    Masterpiece is a marvellous fair. Sandwiched between a 60 million year old Triceratops dinosaur skull, two Ferrari’s and luxury boats you will find antiquities, Old Masters, contemporary art, jewellery, a  three volume first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma inscribed by the author to her friend Anna Sharpe (£375,000 at Peter Harrington), jewellery, silver and design of a very high order. Expect a degree of security, no heavier than usual, but on alert after the jewellery heist at Maastricht earlier in the week.


    Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

    1st edition, 1813, Pride and Prejudice: A Novel in three volumes.

    1st edition, 1813, Pride and Prejudice: A Novel in three volumes.

    Jane Austen, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde will all feature at Peter Harrington’s stand at the Paris Antiquarian Book Fair from April 22-24 at the Nef du Grand Palais. The Paris Fair, one of the most prestigious of its kind, offers  its ever increasing number of visitors a panorama of the highlights of our written heritage, together with a vast selection of engravings and drawings.

    Nearly two hundred national and international dealers will attend to unveil thousands of exceptional documents, representative of cultural history.

    Among the books at London dealer Peter Harrington is a 1st edition of Pride and Prejudice 1813 priced at £87,500, a 1st edition of Bran Stoker’s Dracula 1897 priced at £17,500 and and a trade issue 1st edition of Oscar Wilde’s Salome 1893 priced at £27,500.


    Monday, May 23rd, 2011

    JANE AUSTEN'S MANUSCRIPT OF ‘THE WATSONS’ (estimate £200,000-300,000). (click on image to enlarge) UPDATE: IT MADE £993,250, triple the pre-sale estimate.

    The historic autograph manuscript of Jane Austen’s unpublished novel ‘The Watsons’ – the only major Austen manuscript remaining in private hands – is due up at Sotheby’s sale of English Literature and History in London on July 14.

    The heavily corrected draft, the most important Jane Austen item to come to the market in over 20 years, was probably written in 1804. It is the earliest surviving manuscript for a novel by Jane Austen. The work remains incomplete.  None of the manuscripts of her completed novels survive, with the exception of two draft chapters of ‘Persuasion’ (at the British Library), Austen’s juvenile work ‘Lady Susan’ (at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York) and the fragment ‘Sanditon’ (at King’s College, Cambridge), the only other autograph novel manuscript of comparable length.
    ‘The Watsons’ centres on a family of four sisters – the daughters of a widowed clergyman. Its heroine is Emma, the youngest, who has been brought up by a wealthy aunt. When her aunt contracts a foolish second marriage, Emma is obliged to return to her father’s house and endure the crude husband-hunting of her two twenty-something sisters. She has, however, a close relationship with her eldest and most responsible sister Elizabeth. ‘The Watsons’ contains many of Austen’s perennial themes and her genius for shrewd social observation:
    Emma Watson to Lord Osborne: “Your Lordship thinks we always have our own way. That is a point on which ladies and gentlemen have long disagreed. But without pretending to decide it, I may say that there are some circumstances which even women cannot control. Female economy will do a great deal my Lord, but it cannot turn a small income into a large one.”
    The novel is considered to be around a quarter completed. The manuscript, comprising 68 hand-trimmed pages, is estimated at £200,000-300.000. Well known to scholars, it was her  only literary composition between the completion of ‘Northanger Abbey’ in 1799 and the commencement of ‘Mansfield Park’ in 1811.


    Thursday, December 16th, 2010

    Jane Austen's Emma signed by Maria Edgeworth. (click to enlarge)

    AN extremely rare first edition of Jane Austen’s Emma, signed by the Irish authoress Maria Edgeworth, made a hammer price with buyer’s premium of £79,250 at Sotheby’s in London on December 16.  It is the only known copy of Emma given by Jane Austen – Britain’s most beloved authoress – to a fellow writer.

    Emma was published in three volumes by John Murray on December 23, 1815.  This lot comprised volumes I and 3. No part of the manuscript for Emma survives and no presentation copy inscribed by Jane Austen herself is known to exist.  This copy has remained in Maria Edgeworth’s family ever since. The Irish writer is regarded as the creator, in Castle Rackrent, of the first true historical novel in English.
    At the same sale a first printing in England of James Joyce’s Ulysses, published in London by John Lane the Bodley Head in 1936, sold for £11,875.  This was number 89 of a limited edition of 1,000 copies.
    Sotheby’s English Literature and History and Childrens books and illustrations sale realised £821,813.  (see post for October 29)


    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.