For Sale in Hong Kong: Anne Sharp’s “Emma”

The 1816 first edition of Emma that Jane Austen signed and gave to her friend Anne Sharp [thought to be the inspiration for the character of Mrs. Weston] will be available for sale at this weekend’s International Antiquarian Book Fair in Hong Kong [January 17-19, 2009].   It will cost you a mere HK$3.95 million.  See the full article about other titles for sale at The and the link above for the full downloadable catalogue of fair offerings.

By my calculations (this can vary depending on which currency converter you use):

  • this book sold for £180,000 at a Bonhams auction in June = US $262,692.
  • it is for sale at the book fair for HK $ 3,950,000.
  • which equals £348,744. GBP or US $508,958.
  • which is a profit of £168,744 GBP or US $246,265.
  • …if it sells..
  • and whatever would Jane (or Anne!) think!

Jane Austen's 'Emma'

Jane Austen's 'Emma'


Further reading:

10 thoughts on “For Sale in Hong Kong: Anne Sharp’s “Emma”

  1. Pingback: Jane Austen’s “Emma” for sale in Hong Kong « Bygone Books Blog

  2. I’m really saddened by this news. I rather like Miss Sharp and wasn’t sure (back in June) if _I_ could have parted with her copy of EMMA. And now it’s back on the market?! (and at about twice the price). There is something distasteful about selling on (after so short a time) and making tons of money in this type of transaction… I hope it finds an ‘appreciative’ home – pronto!


  3. Hi Kelly, I know what you mean…however, books (and everything else) will sell at whatever the market will bear. This increase in price is not yet a proven amount, i.e. it has not yet sold. It is most common in the antiquarian book trade for a title to pass between booksellers a number of times before it is actually sold “on the market.” No way of knowing how many hands this book has seen since the auction last June; but we must assume that any potential buyer will be most appreciative of their purchase…it is unfortunately way out of the league of the average collector and most institutions… I just feel the unfairness of Austen’s struggles for the smallest of income from her work, and she died without knowing of her long-lasting impact on literature and the individuals she has touched ~ these are incalculable!


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  6. Surely the seller is a bookseller who bought the book because it was being offered at below market price and is now offering it for what they think it is worth. Difficult to verify as it is unique, but compared with other unique items of such historical weight, it still looks inexpensive.


  7. Hello Galahad, yes, you are correct that the buyer would have been a bookseller, but the book may have moved through different hands since June; and as I explain above, prices are determined by what sells and will be whatever the market will bear. This is a unique item and thus hard to set a price, so its value will be whatever it sells for. I do not know if it sold at the Hong Kong Fair, but I do agree that it holds much historical weight and whatever it sells for will be worth it. Thank you for visiting! Deb


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