Auctions | October 19, 2011

Bonhams Sets World Record for Anthony Trollope

New York—Bonhams was thrilled to host the October 18 auction of The Robert H. and Donna L. Jackson Collection, one of the world’s finest collections of Victorian Literature as published in original parts and serial publications. The 250 lot sale saw an active room of bidders raise their paddles in hopes of obtaining works by a great selection of the most sought after authors of the 19th and late 18th centuries.

Christina Geiger, the Director of Fine Books & Manuscripts New York, enthusiastically states about the sale, “Bonhams is thrilled to have set a new world record at auction for Anthony Trollope. There was steady bidding on Dickens, Eliot and Thackeray throughout the sale. We are happy to see that 19th century literature still captures interest among international book collectors.”

Leading the sale was Anthony Trollope’s notorious rarity “Ralph the Heir” which claimed a hammer price of $88,900, setting a new world record for the author (pre-sale est. $50,000-80,000). Deemed by the author to be one of his worst literary endeavors, this novel won appreciation because of his accurate and honest description of a Parliamentary campaign in the fictional borough of Percycross. The winning bidder is now the owner of one of only a handful of copies in existence.

Literary works by Charles Dickens claimed a strong bidding audience throughout the sale. Leading the charge of the Dickens lots was the first edition The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club in monthly parts published from 1836-1837. Featuring numerous first issue points and including 25 additional plates that account for many of the varying issues of illustrations, this collection sold for $31,250 against a pre-sale estimate of $30,000-50,000. Other strong Dickens performers include: A Tale of Two Cities selling for $23,750 (pre-sale est. $20,000-30,000); The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby with a hammer price of $18,750 (pre-sale est. $15,000-20,000); and The Adventures of Oliver Twist claiming $10,000 (pre-sale est. $3,000-5,000).

The second highest hammer price was George Eliot’s Middlemarch at $56,750. This first edition in original parts was unique because it was something of an experiment in the serial form, appearing as it did in eight irregularly published ‘books,’ offering all aspects of a regular book but at the price of a serial. This printing experiment was repeated and successful with Daniel Deronda another top lot from the author in the auction selling for $9,375 (pre-sale est. $4,000-6,000).

Other top lots of the sale include: William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, A Novel Without a Hero selling for $27,500 (pre-sale est. $12,000-18,000); Walt Whitman’s autograph manuscript headed “July, by the Pond” selling for $17,500 (pre-sale est. $8,000-12,000); and Isabella Beeton’s Beeton’s Book of Household Management selling for $17,500 (pre-sale est. $12,000-18,000).