Bearing a very brief presentation note from the year of publication, this 1937 first issue copy of John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men in an unclipped dust jacket made $8500 (£6800) at Potter & Potter.

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It was a second printing of Scribner’s 1925 first edition that he inscribed in 1932 for Margaret Turnbull. She owned La Paix, a large house and estate near Towson, Maryland, that the writer had rented while his wife, Zelda, was undergoing treatment at the Phipps Clinic, the psychiatric branch of the nearby Johns Hopkins medical centre.

Offered on April 26, it took $56,000 (£44,445) in the Chicago auction.

Three more lots are noted in the accompanying illustrations, but other 20th century items of note include a 1929 first-issue copy of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms that sold at $18,000 (£14,400).

Complete with jacket, it was inscribed to a Chicago News reporter, Edgar A Mowrer, who in the late 1930s, like Hemingway, worked as a war correspondent during the Spanish Civil War.

Wilde thing

Among earlier successes was one of 99 copies of a limited edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol produced by Leonard Smithers in 1898.

This was identified on the title-page only as the work of C.3.3., the number that had been allocated to Wilde at Reading Prison, where he had served a two year’s hard labour sentence following his conviction for homosexual offences.

Signed by Wilde, it made a far higher than suggested $22,000 (£17,600).