Dickens’ Household Items Head to Auction

Courtesy of Bonhams

One of three objects owned by Charles Dickens to be offered at Bonhams. 

Literary memorabilia is alluring to collectors, as the recent Joan Didion auction made clear. Bits and pieces owned by famous authors come to auction occasionally and always draw attention. To see three such objects owned by Charles Dickens up for sale—during Dickens season no less!—is noteworthy.

A tea caddy spoon, said to be from Dickens' country home, Gad’s Hill, is estimated at $6,000-8,000. The silver utensil bearing the monogram “CD” was made in 1861. It comes with a manuscript note from the author's sister-in-law and housekeeper, Georgina Hogarth, attesting to its authenticity. She writes, "I certify that this silver tea caddy spoon was always used in the dining-room at Gad's Hill from the time Charles Dickens went there to live—until the day of his death 9th June 1870.”

Dickens’ mechanical pickle fork is also on offer. What a fun item! The plated brass kitchen gadget is, like the aforementioned spoon, monogrammed “CD” and certified by Hogarth to be real. The estimate is $6,000-8,000.

A small china inkwell featuring a bee reading, ca. 1860, was used in Dickens' bedroom at Gad’s Hill, according to an accompanying note from Hogarth. It too is estimated at $6,000-8,000. 

Dickens spoon
Courtesy of Bonhams

Charles Dickens' tea caddy spoon.

Dickens Spoon Manuscript
Courtesy of Bonhams

A manuscript note attesting to the spoon's authenticity. 

Dickens pickle fork
Courtesy of Bonhams

Dickens' pickle fork.

Dickens bee inkwell
Courtesy of Bonhams

An inkwell from Dickens' bedroom.

Dickens bee inkwell mss
Courtesy of Bonhams

A handwritten note by Georgina Hogarth offering provenance for the inkwell. 

Of the literary memorabilia sold at auction in recent years, Dickens’ “stuff” has been popular. A monogramed candlestick from Gad’s Hill and a mahogany desk of his sold at auction two years ago for $8,750 and $13,750, respectively. Does his handwritten liquor inventory fall under “memorabilia” or “manuscript”? Either way, it sold for 11,875 ($15,000) back in 2019.

Other Dickens material in the upcoming sale at Bonhams on December 13 includes a signed cabinet card from 1868, books owned by him, and a debated manuscript thought to be the celebrated author's juvenilia.