Auctions | November 13, 2013

Unseen Drawing by John Lennon at Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions

A previously unpublished self-portrait by John Lennon is among lots in Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions sale of Important Books and Manuscripts, Thursday 28th November.

The drawing is one of two sketched for the book Grapefruit, written by Yoko Ono and published in the UK by Peter Owen. The second is a portrait of Ono in ink on paper and they will be sold together with the famous manuscript text that was used as the introduction for the book. It starts: ‘Hi my name is John Lennon/ I'd like you to meet Yoko Ono.' The three pieces are estimated to sell for £4,000-6,000.

Publisher Peter Owen is reported as saying: “I liked John Lennon, he was helpful and did a few drawings for us, but she sat there with a big hat on eating caviar out of a jar with a kitchen spoon and she didn’t offer us any and was very unpleasant. She used to phone me at midnight to discuss her book. My daughter Antonia suggested some years ago, what about reprinting Grapefruit? And I said, I’m not reprinting that rubbish.” [Lot 140]

Being sold alongside these designs is a scarce first English edition of Grapefruit. Printed in 1970 it is signed by both Yoko Ono and John Lennon. The book is estimated at £1,500-£2,000. [141]

Probably the finest set of first editions of all seven Harry Potter novels ever to be offered at auction is estimated to sell for £30,000-40,000. The books are all in pristine condition, signed by the author and are accompanied by seven pieces of original artwork by artists Thomas Taylor, Cliff Wright and Giles Greenfield. [Lot 149]

An extremely rare first edition of the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations is one of only 1,000 copies, published in three volumes, in 1861. The work was first printed without illustrations as 36 weekly instalments in the Victorian periodical, All the Year Round. Dickens initially planned to issue Great Expectations in monthly numbers but sales of All the Year Round were suffering. 

In a letter written by Dickens to his friend John Forster on the 4th October 1860 he says, "…called a council of war at the office on Tuesday [presumably 2 October 1860]. It was perfectly clear that the one thing to be done was, for me to strike in. I have therefore decided to begin the story as of the length of The Tale of Two Cities on the first of December—begin publishing, that is. I must make the most I can out of the book. You shall have the first two or three weekly parts to-morrow. The name is Great Expectations. I think a good name?" The majority of copies went to circulating libraries making this book, in its original binding, an extremely rare find on the open market. It is estimated at £18,000-£22,000. [Lot 108]

A copy of the The Daily News, No.1, printed on 21 January, 1846 is a very scarce and unusual piece of Dickensiania. Dickens had long maintained the ambition of founding a leading liberal newspaper, in part as a rival to the right-wing Morning Chronicle. Dickens said: "The Principles advocated by The Daily News will be Principles of Progress and Improvement; of Education, Civil and Religious Liberty, and Equal Legislation; Principles, such as its conductors believe the advancing spirit of the time requires." The paper was not an immediate success and Dickens later handed the reigns over to his friend John Forster. The auction house can trace only one other copy sold at auction and have estimated the present example at £600-£800. [Lot 106]

Written by William Wordsworth when he stayed in Bath in 1841, an autograph manuscript poem of  four lines dated'Bath 28th April 1841,' was written for the marriage of his daughter, Dora on the 11th May. Late in life Wordsworth articulated most clearly the Miltonic belief that poets could act as effectively in matters of the spirit as those who were canonically ordained to the work as is displayed in this poem. It reads:

“Though Pulpits and the Desk may fail / To reach the hearts of worldly men / Yet may the grace of God prevail / And touch them through the Poet's pen”

This rare example of Wordsworth’s personal writing to his family is estimated to sell for £2,000-£3,000. [Lot 76]

Significant scientific works in the sale include a first edition of perhaps the most important medical text of the Middle Ages: Abu 'Ali al-Husayn ibn 'Abdallah ibn-Sina[Liber Canonis]. Written in original Arabic text by Avicenna and printed in Italy, it is based on the views of Galen, Hippocrates and Aristotle, as well the observations of Avicenna himself and other Muslim physicians. The writings formed a compendium of Greek and Muslim medical knowledge and remained the basic medical reference work in the Islamic world until the nineteenth century.  The Arabic types used in the book were designed by Robert Granjon for the Typographia Medicea, set up by Ferdinando de' Medici at the behest of Pope Gregory XIII for printing in Arabic and other oriental languages. The book is estimated at £7,000-£10,000. [Lot 362]

The sale is on view at Bloomsbury House, Maddox Street, on Tuesday 26th November and Wednesday 27th November, 9.30am - 5.30pm. Online bidding with no additional premium will be available via