Auctions | July 11, 2012

Sotheby's London Sells Jane Austen's Ring for $236,557

Tuesday 10th July 2012 - This afternoon in Sotheby’s English Literature, History, Children’s Books & Illustrations sale, a previously unknown gold and gem set ring belonging to the great English author Jane Austen, sold for £152,450 - more than five times its pre-sale high estimate of £20,000-30,000. Eight bidders battled for the turquoise ring, which was eventually won by an anonymous private collector over the telephone. The ring was offered for sale for the first time, having remained in Jane Austen’s family for nearly 200 years - handed down between female descendants  over many generations. The Gandhi-Kallenbach archive of letters, papers and photographs spanning five decades, was privately sold before the auction to the Indian Government.

Sotheby’s manuscripts specialist Dr Gabriel Heaton commented: “Jane Austen?s simple and modest ring is a wonderfully intimate and evocative possession The price achieved today and the huge level of interest it has generated, is a remarkable testament to the author?s enduring appeal and her place at the heart of our literary and cultural heritage.”

Other Highlights of the sale included:

A remarkable group of 17th century acts and ordinances - rare survivors of the English Civil War - sold for a combined total of £39,000 - more than double their low estimate. The broadsheets included an Act for the abolishment of kingship in the wake of the beheading of Charles I; an order to cancel the festival of Christmas; the infamous Ordinance suspending all plays - and leading to the closure of the Globe Theatre; and a colourful order offering £10 to “every one who shall bring in a High-way-man.”

An exceptionally rare inscribed copy of Lewis Carroll’s The Nursery ?Alice? (MacMillan and Co, 1889). This copy, which sold for £36,050 against an estimate of £10,000-15,000, was inscribed to the mother of Maria Van der Gucht, whom Dodgson described elsewhere as “a quite charming little girl.”. In the copy sold today, Dodgson had written “Mrs Van der Gucht, in feeble acknowledgement of the loan of a valuable jewel, Sep.1.1886. C.L.D”. Only three other inscribed copies of the 1889 issue of this work are recorded.

The “Lost Album” of 150 photographs of JM Barrie and his adopted “Lost Boys”, the Five Llewelyn Davies brothers, who inspired the story of Peter Pan, was sold for £32,450 - well in excess of its pre-sale estimate of £12,000-18,000. At least 40 of the images, including several taken by the author himself, are the only known prints recording key moments in the lives of the boys with JM Barrie.

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