The sale achieved in total just under £2.7 million (against a pre-sale estimate of £1.8 - 2.2 million). We saw lively bidding throughout the day, with a large number of bidders attending in person, online and on the telephone. The large collection of books and miscellany volumes from Fettercairn House were 100% sold, as were the group of historic manuscripts from the Collection of the Earls of Clarendon, and both groups achieved well over double their pre-sale estimates.
We saw a number of world auction records including £212,500 for Darwin’s first separate publication (the Letters to Henslow), and £150,000 for a letter by Jane Austen. The highlight of the afternoon session was, naturally, the manuscript of J.K. Rowling's Tales of Beedle the Bard (£ 368,750), it also saw significant prices for original book illustrations including notable results for work by Quentin Blake, Beatrix Potter, E.H. Shepard and Arthur Rackham.
This December’s English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations sale will include rare and collectable books, manuscripts and artwork across the categories. Property from a number of important private collections includes a significant group of Darwin first editions, exceptional copies of twentieth century literature, and a remarkable group of fine books and numerous highly important miscellanies and tract volumes formerly in the library at Fettercairn House, Aberdeenshire.
Alongside these highlights, the sale will also include a significant group of Jane Austen material, including a vividly descriptive letter to her sister Cassandra, describing the details of her daily life. Marking 200 years since its first publication, the sale will also include a first edition copy of Emma, Austen’s cup-and-ball game, and Anna Lefroy’s manuscript continuation of her aunt’s final unfinished novel, Sanditon.
Leading our selection of children’s books, we are thrilled to offer one of the six handwritten manuscript copies of J.K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard, originally given to a person “most closely connected to the Harry Potter books”. Following our sale in 2007 of a copy on behalf of the charity Lumos for £1.95 million, the auction of this significant association copy is an opportunity to acquire a major piece of Harry Potter history.