A high spot of the Sotheby’s sale of December 12 was a group of Jane Austen firsts in the original boards. Illustrated above right is the former Lady Shelley/Earl Spencer/Jerome Kern copy of her first published novel, Sense and Sensibility of 1811, the blue boards with cream paper spines, which made $70,000 (£49,295).
The labels on Vols 2-3 of Pride and Prejudice were facsimiles, but the blue and cream boards were very well preserved and the only other example in publisher’s boards seen in the last 25 years was the Hogan-Doheny copy, which made $45,000 at Christie’s New York in 1988. This one sold at $37,500 (£26,410).
Below right: the boards of all three volumes of Mansfield Park of 1814 are inscribed with the names and dates of those who borrowed the book from a circulating library of the time. Expertly rebacked and lacking the spine labels, this too was the ex-Jerome Kern copy and it sold at $60,000 (£42,255).
The MacGregor-Kern copy of Emma was in the original tan boards, and though the backstrips of two volumes were almost entirely perished, that on the second volume was rather better and retained the spine label. It sold at $19,000 (£13,380).
The four-volume copy of the posthumously published Northanger Abbey and Persuasion of 1818, on the other hand, was virtually unblemished in blue and cream boards with a full set of spine labels that even retain the price of 24s.
Formerly in the libraries of Duke Ernest I of Saxe-Coburg, whose stamp appears to verso of each title page, and of Frank Capra, whose collection was sold in 1949, this superb copy made $60,000 (£42,255).