Fine Books and Manuscripts

Fine Books and Manuscripts

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 125. (Dickens, Charles) | A relic of one of Britain's greatest authors.

(Dickens, Charles) | A relic of one of Britain's greatest authors

Lot Closed

December 16, 09:05 PM GMT


6,000 - 8,000 USD

Lot Details


(Dickens, Charles)

Silver vinaigrette, with ivory discs used for notetaking, once owned by Dickens, and then gifted to his sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth, hallmarked 1864

Silver case (diameter: 40 mm). Ornately engraved with foliate scrolls and central cartouche bearing the gift inscription "From | C.D. 1863. | To G.H. | 1868," hinged cover, interior with ornately pierced and engraved foliate grille and three roundel writing tablets of ivory, with a French import mark (1814-1893), as well as the mark of Thomas Jennens (London, 1864); some wear consistent with age and use, some corrosion to interior of cover, split to one disk repaired with old paper.

A remarkable relic — an early "notepad," once used by a literary giant.  

The ivory roundels that form a part of this handsome vinaigrette functioned as a reusable notepad, with the markings of a lead pencil being easy to remove from the light, smooth surface. Its elegance and compactness rendered it the perfect accessory for one given to observing life, obsessively noting its details, and arranging these into some of the finest fiction of the 19th century.

The present vinaigrette was at one time accompanied by a letter from Georgina Hogarth, which read in part: "[The] writing tablet and vinaigrette used by my brother-in-law Charles Dickens when traveling and sometimes at Gad's Hill ... was given to me by him shortly before his death on 9 of June 1870 and was twice used by me." Hogarth, a sister of Dickens's wife, Catherine Hogarth, remained a lifelong friend in spite of the difficulties in the marriage. When Catherine formally separated from Dickens in 1858 due to an alleged affair, Georgina moved in to care for Dickens's home and youngest children, living with him until his death in 1870.

In terms of the markings, Dickens traveled to France in June of 1868 to see a Paris production of No Thoroughfare, and to perhaps give a reading (Letters). Thomas Jennens was a small works in London (mark entered 17 March 1840). 

A charming relic of one of the world's most prolific storytellers.


Letters of Charles Dickens (the Pilgrim Edition), Vol. 12: 1868-1870


Charles Dickens — Georgina Hogarth (engraving)