A number of lots in an April 28 sale held in Cambridge made higher than suggested sums, but one of them far exceeded expectations.
Estimated at £400-600 in a Cheffins (24.5% buyer’s premium) sale was a copy of Mark Twain’s Sketches, New and Old. Described as a second-state issue of an illustrated edition published in 1875 by the American Publishing Co, it sold instead at £20,000.
In the original blue cloth gilt binding, it bears an inscription that identifies the recipient as Dr John Brown, to whom it was sent “With the love of Mark Twain, (Otherwise Saml. L Clemens) Hartford, Dec. 1875”.
The recipient appears to have been the Scottish physician and essayist John Brown, who Clemens first contacted when his wife, Livy, fell ill during a tour of the UK in 1873. A friendship subsequently developed, one that continued through letters until Brown’s death in 1882.
Uncut in paper wrappers and dated 1819 to the title-page, but described as a later issue, a copy of John W Polidori’s The Vampyre was sold at £2400.
Bid to £6500 was a lot that in two volumes contained an 1832 edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and three other works.
One was Edgar Huntly, or Memoirs of a Sleep Walker, a gothic tale by the American writer Charles Brockden Brown that was first published in 1791, and the other The Ghost-Seer! of 1832, presumably a copy of Friedrich Schiller’s novel, first published in serial form in 1787-89. This complex lot also found room for yet another, 1836 edition of Frankenstein.
Among later literary highlights was a 1972 first in dust jacket of Richard Adams’ Watership Down that bore a presentation inscription from the author and sold at £2800.
Though lacking the portrait and in a now broken contemporary binding but retaining the folding world map, a small folio work of 1659 called The History of the World: Or, an Account of Time by Dionysius Petavius, a Jesuit theologian who was born Dénis Petau, sold at what seems to be a record £3200.
Bid to £6500 in this Cambridge auction was a vellum-bound volume of medicinal and culinary recipes that bears a date of 1690 but, as with many such collections, would have been added to over the years and runs to some 100pp in all.
‘Apricocke Wine’, ‘Orange Marmalade’, ‘Chocolate Lady Fletcher’s Way’ and ‘To Make a Jelly of Snake Skins’ were among those that caught the eye.