An extensive collection of Charles Dickens’ novels – including several first and numerous early editions – achieved £15,825, excluding buyers’ commission, when it went under the hammer at a West Midlands auction house earlier this month.
The private collection was entered into Cuttlestones’ recent Specialist Collectors’ Sale in Wolverhampton; drawing specialist dealers and collectors from across the country into the sale room and attracting worldwide bids via the internet.
The top seller was three-volume edition of Great Expectations, published by Chapman & Hall in 1861. Bearing some first edition pointers, but having been rebound with no adverts bound in back, it nevertheless achieved an impressive £5,000.
Another lot that exceeded its ‘great expectations’ was a rare and very sought-after first edition copy entitled A Christmas Carol in prose being A Ghost Story of Christmas‘. Featuring illustrations by John Leech the tome was published by Chapman & Hall in 1843, carrying four hand-coloured plates and bound in its original brown cloth bearing the classic first edition hallmarks of blue & red printing to the title page, green endpapers the date –MDCCCXLIII – in Roman Numerals, with the first chapter entitled Stave I (not ‘one’). The hammer fell at £3,000.
Lot 216, a three-volume first edition copy of Oliver Twist; or The Parish Boy’s Progress by ‘Boz’, published by Richard Bentley in 1839 fetched £1,500. The copy included the infamous, and later replaced, ‘fireside plate’ in Vol III. (3) and was attributed to the author’s earlier moniker ‘Boz’ rather than Dickens. Hot on its heels and selling for £1,400 was a first edition in book form copy of The Personal History of David Copperfield, with illustrations by HK Browne, Bradbury & Evans, 1850.
Elsewhere in the book section other highlights included a first edition of (Rex Collings, 1972 copy) of Richard Adams’ Watership Down – an ex-library book that achieved a hammer price of £240. A very rare first edition copy of Elizabeth Anne Allom’s The Seaweed Collector, complete with natural specimens from the shores of Margate and Ramsgate, as opposed to illustrations, and printed by TH Keble, sold for £320.
Finally, a first edition, 10-volume copy of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, in French and published in Brussels by A Lacroix, Verboeckhoven & Co. Editeurs in 1862 sold for £550.