Lot 5 Jane Austen. Autograph Letter Signed (J. Austen), to her sister Cassandra.jpg
A rare handwritten letter by Jane Austen (1775-1817) sold at $160,000 (£124,000) against an estimate of $80,000-120,000 at Bonhams’ Fine Books & Manuscripts sale in New York on October 23.

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Hammered down at $160,000 (£124,000) against an estimate of $80,000-120,000 at Bonhams’ Fine Books & Manuscripts sale in New York on October 23, the letter was written to Austen’s sister Cassandra.

The letter is full of family news and, according to Bonhams, “characteristically acute observations on the activities of the day”. Austen details a trip to Mr Spence the dentist with her three nieces. "The poor Girls & their Teeth! ... we were a whole hour at Spence's, & Lizzy's were filed & lamented over again & poor Marianne had two taken out after all ... we heard each of the two sharp hasty screams.”

Dodge Family Autograph Collection

The letter was among an archive offered from the Dodge Family Autograph Collection. Prominent philanthropist William Dodge Sr co-founded the Phelps Dodge Company in New York in the 19th century, which was later expanded by his son William E Dodge Jr. 

Another highlight in the sale was a rare documented letter of US outlaw Jesse James which sold for a premium-inclusive $212,575, against an estimate of $200,000-300,000. Buyer's premium is 25%.