The Library of Dr. Rodney P. Swantko

The Library of Dr. Rodney P. Swantko

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 9. Doyle, Arthur Ignatius Conan, Sir | The most significant Sherlock Holmes manuscript extant.

Doyle, Arthur Ignatius Conan, Sir | The most significant Sherlock Holmes manuscript extant

Auction Closed

June 26, 02:59 PM GMT


800,000 - 1,200,000 USD

Lot Details


Conan Doyle, Arthur Ignatius, Sir

The complete autograph manuscript signed three times ("A. Conan Doyle") of The Sign of the Four, the second Sherlock Holmes novel, 1890

161 leaves of ledger-ruled paper (324 x 200 mm), comprising an original covering title-sheet and 160 text leaves, foliated [4], 5–160 in several hands, written on rectos only in brown-black ink in a clear, confident hand with only occasional, and usually minor, autograph revisions, emendations, and deletions, Bush Villa, Southsea, [September 1889], the first text leaf an autograph fair copy supplied by Doyle (see below) with Conan Doyle's card mounted at top and inscribed in his hand "With kind remembrances," verso of leaf 122 with a pencil sketch apparently by Doyle; with additional editorial annotations, mostly in pencil, regularizing the author's punctuation and other incidentals to American conventions and Americanizing British spellings (e.g., cucaine, grey, neighbourhood, coloured, demeanour, endeavoured, harbour, odour, splendour); occasional light finger-soiling and a few short marginal tears at front and rear, supplied fair-copy leaf with clean tear at edge of mounted card, withal in remarkable condition considering the manuscript served as the printer's copytext. Red skiver gilt by Stikeman, marbled endpapers, red edges; extremities quite rubbed, front free endpaper loose.

Accompanied by 4 important autograph letters signed by Conan Doyle ("A. Conan Doyle") to Joseph Marshall Stoddart, editor of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, relating to the composition of The Sign of the Four and its first publication in that periodical: all Bush Villa, Southsea, 3 September 1889, 3 ½ pages; 1 October 1889, 4 pages; no date, but late February 1890, 3 pages; and 17 March 1890, 3 pages; the letters all inlaid to size and bound, on guards at the front of the volume with a typographic title-page printed in red and black bound at front and with a mounted albumen photograph portrait of Conan Doyle (145 x 98 mm) serving as frontispiece; the letters, title-page, and photograph all evidently later additions to the binding (their edges are not stained red; the title-page references the letters but the front cover title does not), overbulking the binding and causing several insertions to have broken loose at their guards.