Works by the Brontë sisters were a key feature of an April 27 ‘Library Sale’ held by Cheffins (24.5% buyer’s premium) of Cambridge.
The stand-out lot was an 1847 set of three volumes that brought together Emily’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, which was published under the pseudonym ‘Ellis Bell’, and a first of Anne’s Agnes Grey, a rather less familiar tale that was based on her experiences as a governess.
These novels had been accepted for publication before their elder sister, Charlotte, had completed Jane Eyre, first published by Smith, Elder & Co in that same year – but it was only the success of that work which finally stirred Thomas Cautley Newby into issuing her sisters’ novels.
Though given an estimate of £10,000-20,000, the set of Emily and Anne’s books was offered “as viewed with all condition issues”, and it was pointed out that some leaves of Agnes Grey, among them the title page, may have been supplied from a shorter copy and appeared to be of later date.
Bound in half blue morocco gilt by Rivière, this set was catalogued as being sold by a descendant of the original owner, whose bookplates appear in all three volumes.
The print run of the edition is thought to have been limited to just 250 copies and this rare survivor sold to an online bidder for £46,000.
A three-decker, 1848 first of Anne Brontë’s only other and much more successful novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, again bound in half blue morocco gilt by Rivière, made £13,000 via thesaleroom.com.
Highlights of the Cambridge sale also included an example of C&J Greenwood’s large, 1827 Map of London…, billed as showing good original colour and universal tone. It sold for £21,000, over four times top estimate.
In complete contrast, a Buckingham Palace headed note card of c.1938-39 bore on both sides a number of childish pencil drawings of cottages, chairs, dressing tables, etc.
Those drawings (previewed in our Royal Collectables feature, ATG No 2591) were made by the very young and future Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, who were visiting a London dentist at the time and had made the drawings as a way of passing the time they had to spend in the waiting room.
Their artwork had initially been left behind in the waiting room but was later recovered and sent to Buckingham Palace – though after being copied it was returned to the finder. Over 80 years later their drawings found a buyer at £9000.