Auctions | May 13, 2016

Christie's Announces Sale of 1865 First Issue of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"

51662356_001 copy.jpgNew York—Christie’s announces the sale of the legendary suppressed 1865 Alice, (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000), as a stand-alone sale taking place at 12pm on Thursday, 16 June 2016, immediately following the Books & Manuscripts auction, at Rockefeller Plaza. The work will travel on a preview tour to London from 21 to 25 May, San Francisco from 2 to 4 June, Los Angeles from 6 to 9 June, and will be on view in New York from 11 to 15 June, with additional events and tour locations to be announced. This copy of the first issue of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of ten surviving copies still in original red cloth, only two of which are in private hands, the other described as “heavily worn.”

The story of the1865 edition begins on 4 July 1862 when Charles Dodgson (alias Lewis Carroll), along with a friend The Rev Robinson Duckworth, took the three daughters of Dean Liddell of Christ Church, Oxford, Lorina, Alice and Edith, on a trip on the Thames during which he related the first parts of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground., the precursor to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.  On their return Alice asked him to write down the story.

Working with renowned illustrator John Tenniel of Punch magazine, Lewis Carroll developed the elements of the story into this book. Three years later during June 1865 the first edition was printed with the intention to have Macmillan & Co. of London publish it on 4 July 1865. Lewis Carroll requested 50 advance copies to give away. A few days later Carroll heard from Tenniel that he was “entirely dissatisfied with the printing of the pictures.”  Carroll withdrew the entire edition of 2000 and asked for the advance copies he had sent to be returned.

Surviving copies of the 1865 edition are, not surprisingly, excessively rare. There are now only 22 known copies in existence, 16 of which are in institutional libraries. Only six remain in private hands—including the present copy. Of the six, four are rebound.

The sale of this copy presents a rare opportunity to acquire an example of the legendary “1865 Alice”—in its true original state, with the text and binding as they were when the book was first produced. No other copy in the original binding in this condition exists in private hands.


The present copy was given by Lewis Carroll to George William Kitchin, a colleague of Carroll’s at Christ Church, and Secretary of the School Book Committee for the University Press. Kitchin later gave the book to his daughter Alexandra (“Xie”) Rhoda Kitchin (born 1864), who was one of Carroll’s favorite photographic models. The book is accompanied by an original photograph of her taken by Lewis Carroll.

She sold the copy at auction in 1925, but, sadly, died on the day of the sale. Dr A.S.W. Rosenbach, the Philadelphia book dealer, acquired it for the Pforzheimer Library, and as part of that collection, it was one of nine 1865 Alices featured in the Columbia University Centenary Exhibition in 1932. The Pforzheimer Library sold the copy to Harriet Borland in 1974. In 1976, her library was sold, and the book was acquired by the Los Angeles film and television producer William Self, who sold it to Jon Lindseth in 1997.

Jon A. Lindseth

Jon A. Lindseth is a bibliographer, book collector and published scholar of Lewis Carroll. He is General Editor of the book Alice in a World of Wonderlands: The Translations of Lewis Carroll’s Masterpiece, published by Oak Knoll Press in 2015, and has written on Lewis Carroll for the journals of the Lewis Carroll Society (London) and the Lewis Carroll Society of North America. He has curated two exhibitions on the subject at The Grolier Club of New York. Lindseth is a trustee emeritus of Cornell University, fellow of the Morgan Library and Museum and a member of their Printed Books Committee. He is a member of the Chairman’s Council of the American Trust for the British Library and two bibliographical clubs, The Grolier Club of New York and The Rowfant Club of Cleveland.


London | Saturday, May 21 to Wednesday, May 26

San Francisco | Thursday, June 2 to Saturday, June 4

Los Angeles | Monday, June 6 to Thursday, June 9

New York | Saturday, June 11 to Wednesday, June 15     

*Additional events and tour locations to be announced.

Related Sale Sale 13844

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: The Extremely Rare 1865 First Edition 

June 16, 2016

New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Sale 12260

Books and Manuscripts

June 16, 2016

New York, Rockefeller Plaza

Image: DODGSON, Charles Lutwidge (“Lewis Carroll”). Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. London: [The Clarendon Press for] Macmillan, 1865. 42 wood-engraved illustrations by the Dalziel brothers after John Tenniel. Original publisher’s red cloth decorated in gilt, original endpapers with Burn bindery ticket on rear pastedown. Estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000. Credit: Christie's Images LTD.