117
117
Dickens, Charles.
VICTORIAN MAHOGANY TABLE-TOP WRITING SLOPE, THIRD QUARTER 19TH-CENTURY (C.1850), GILT-TOOLED LEATHER INSET, HINGED AND MOULDED TOP, THE REAR RISING SECTION REVEALING STATIONERY COMPARTMENTS, BRASS PLAQUE WITH INSCRIPTION "THIS DESK CONSTANTLY USED BY CHARLES DICKENS WAS PRESENTED BY HIM TO JAMES P. DAVIS WHEN HE BOUGHT TAVISTOCK HOUSE FROM THE AUTHOR IN 1860"
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117
Dickens, Charles.
VICTORIAN MAHOGANY TABLE-TOP WRITING SLOPE, THIRD QUARTER 19TH-CENTURY (C.1850), GILT-TOOLED LEATHER INSET, HINGED AND MOULDED TOP, THE REAR RISING SECTION REVEALING STATIONERY COMPARTMENTS, BRASS PLAQUE WITH INSCRIPTION "THIS DESK CONSTANTLY USED BY CHARLES DICKENS WAS PRESENTED BY HIM TO JAMES P. DAVIS WHEN HE BOUGHT TAVISTOCK HOUSE FROM THE AUTHOR IN 1860"
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Details & Cataloguing

English Literature, History and Children's Books & Illustrations

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Dickens, Charles.
VICTORIAN MAHOGANY TABLE-TOP WRITING SLOPE, THIRD QUARTER 19TH-CENTURY (C.1850), GILT-TOOLED LEATHER INSET, HINGED AND MOULDED TOP, THE REAR RISING SECTION REVEALING STATIONERY COMPARTMENTS, BRASS PLAQUE WITH INSCRIPTION "THIS DESK CONSTANTLY USED BY CHARLES DICKENS WAS PRESENTED BY HIM TO JAMES P. DAVIS WHEN HE BOUGHT TAVISTOCK HOUSE FROM THE AUTHOR IN 1860"

Writing slope from Tavistock House, Dickens's final London residence of 1851-1860, where he wrote Bleak House, Hard Times, Little Dorrit, and A Tale of Two Cities. Although we have found no contemporary references to this item, the provenance can be traced back to James Phineas Davis, the London solicitor who acquired Tavistock House after Dickens moved to Gad's Hill Place in 1860. It was a friendly transaction, prompting Dickens to write that "I have never had any money transaction with any one more promptly, fairly, and considerately conducted than the purchase of Tavistock House has been", and a friendship developed with Davis and his wife (the couple were Jewish and in later years Dickens and Mrs Davis had a lively exchange over anti-Semitism and the character of Fagin).

Furniture and effects were included in the sale of Tavistock House. On 21 August Dickens sent the maid at Tavistock House a list (no longer extant) of the effects that were now the property of Davis. This list may well have included items of furniture which Dickens was happy for him to keep, such as this writing slope. Two days later he asked whether Mrs Davis might like to purchase any of the fitted furniture ("...I mention this now, because we begin to move furniture tomorrow..."). It is also possible - as the plaque suggests - that the writing slope was given by Dickens to Davis in gratitude for his gracious handling of the transaction.

We are grateful to Dr David Parker, former curator of the Charles Dickens Museum in London, for his assistance in the cataloguing of this lot.


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Provenance

Charles Dickens; sold or given to James Phineas Davis in 1860 on his purchase of Tavistock House; by descent to his daughter, Mrs M. Phipps-Jackson, and sold by her in these rooms, 22 March 1910, for £13, to "Spencer"; later acquired by a collector from America, where it has been in private ownership for over half a century

Literature

The Letters of Charles Dickens, vol. IX, p.286, 289-91, 293-4, 300, 303, 306-7; vol. X, p.269-70, 454.

English Literature, History and Children's Books & Illustrations

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London