Jane Austen’s Signature ~ Sells for 12,500 GBP = $16,111 !

Yikes!! ~ Just sold today (7-12-17) at Christies:

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Signature (‘Yours very affec[tionate]ly, Jane’), cut from a letter, n.d.

Price realised GBP 12,500 (Estimate GBP 1,000 – GBP 1,500)

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Signature (‘Yours very affec[tionate]ly, Jane’), cut from a letter, n.d.
22 x 91 mm. [With:] A later envelope, inscribed with provenance notes.

Provenance: Fanny Catherine Knight, Lady Knatchbull (1793-1882, niece of Jane Austen), given to – ‘H.P. Hope’, who, according to the endorsement on the accompanying envelope, dated 15 November 1858, ‘says “Lady K would have sent the entire letter, had it not contained family matters”’.

A tantalising fragment from one of the most elusive hands in English literature: Jane Austen’s signature, cut from one of her letters written to her favourite niece, Fanny Catherine Knight, apparently containing ‘family matters’. Any Austen autograph item is rare at auction: only four have sold in the last twenty years (ABPC/RBH).

2017 Jane Austen in Vermont

Austen on the Block! ~ Sotheby’s 13 December 2016

A few Austen-related lots shall appear at Sotheby’s London on December 13, 2016: English Literature, History, Children’s Books and IllustrationsIt is worth browsing. I list below the six Austen items, but please note that the images do not copy from the Sotheby’s website – I have taken pictures from elsewhere (and so noted) to show each lot. 

1816-1stedtitlepage-blackwellsLot 125.  Austen, Jane. Emma: A Novel. John Murray, 1816.

Estimate: £8,000 – 12,000 / $9,814 – 14,720

3 volumes, 12mo, FIRST EDITION, half-titles supplied in facsimile, paper watermarked “1815 | H”, “Budgen 1815” and “J Budgen 1815”, 1p. publisher’s advertisements on verso of the final leaf of text in volume 3, later full calf, gilt border, flat spine gilt, titled in gilt on red labels, volume numbers and dated in gilt on green labels, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, together in collector’s brown slipcase, many leaves strengthened at gutter, some spotting and browning, some repairs to page edges.

Lot 126. Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey: and Persuasian (sic). Johnna-tp-wp Murray, 1818.

Estimate: £6,000 – 8,000 / $7,360 – 9,814

4 volumes, 12mo, FIRST EDITION, half-titles (between the preliminary leaves and first page of text in each volume, as issued), paper watermarked “AP | 1816 | 2”, later full calf, gilt border, flat spine gilt, titled in gilt on red labels, volume numbers and dated in gilt on red and green labels, all edges speckled, gilt dentelles, marbled endpapers, titles and a few leaves strengthened at gutter, some spotting and browning.
_________

The provenance states: J.C. Fowle, ownership signature on title of each volume – one wonders if there is a connection to the Fowle family that Cassandra was intended to marry into – I find no names in the biographical index in Deirdre Le Faye’s Jane Austen’s Letters (4th ed.) under the Fowle family where a “J. C.” would work…

A snarky (a la Austenblog) aside: I hate it when auction catalogues get it wrong: first there is the Persuasion typo, then this:  ” [Northanger Abbey] was finally brought out after Austen’s death in July 1817 alongside Persuasion, which was completed by Austen over the summer of 1816, shortly before she was forced to stop writing due to ill health.”– so somehow all her efforts on Sanditon have been relegated to the trash heap… especially odd when the next lot is…

Lot 127. [Austen, Jane]. Lefroy, Anna. Autograph Manuscript Continuation of Austen’s Unfinished Novel Sanditon 

Estimate: £20,000 — 30,000 / $24,534 – 36,801

annalefroy-borgantiq2Description: The working manuscript with extensive revisions, mostly with interlinear revisions but partially written on rectos only with revisions and additions on facing versos, two pages entirely cancelled and pasted over with revised text, in three stab-stitched fascicules respectively composed of 8, 11 (lacking final blank) and 8 bifolia, the third with an additional leaf stitched in, with a final section of 11 loose bifolia and one single leaf (the conjugate leaf torn away), on unwatermarked wove paper with indistinct blind stamp in upper left corners, altogether 113 pages, plus blanks, 8vo (180 x 110mm), probably 1840s, light spotting

[with:] Two autograph manuscript reminiscences of Jane Austen: retained copy of a letter to her brother James Edward Austen-Leigh when he was preparing his Memoir of Jane Austen, 9 pages, c.1864; further reminiscences (commencing “I cannot remember distinctly the face of either Aunt…”) in two draft texts, one incomplete, 5 pages; 8vo (180 x 110mm) [also with:] Autograph manuscript note on the manuscript of Sanditon (“I have in my possession a few pages of M.S. the last effort of my dear Aunt’s pen…”), 2 pages, 8vo (205 x 132mm), with a later subscription in the hand of Lefroy’s grand-daughter M. Isabel Lefroy.

Provenance: Sotheby’s, 13 December 1977: “The Property of the great-great nephews of Jane Austen”

[Image: Anna Lefroy, from Borg Antiquarian]

Lot 128. Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. George Allen, 1894. Illus. by Hugh Thomson.

Estimate: £3,000 — 5,000 / $3,680 – 6,133pp-allen-1894-pinterest

Description: 8vo, FIRST EDITION THUS, half-title, frontispiece and illustrations by Hugh Thomson, full pictorial teal morocco gilt by Sangorski & Sutcliffe, motif of peacock standing on an urn on upper board with morocco onlays, within a border of peacock feathers, single red jewel for peacock’s eye, spine gilt in compartments with designs of peacock feathers and butterflies, all edges gilt and gauffered, teal and purple morocco doublures, silk endpapers, collector’s slipcase, spine slightly rubbed, front free endpaper coming loose.

The peacock design of this sumptuous binding evokes Hugh Thomson’s design for the original cloth binding, as well as the peacock motif on the title page. The book contains 160 line drawings by Thomson, including headpieces, tailpieces, ornamental initials and the wholly drawn title page, which he began in the autumn of 1893. The book was published in October 1894.

[Image: Pinterest]

Lot 123. [Austen, Jane]. Cup-and-Ball Game (Bilbocatch) – believed to have been Jane Austen’s

Estimate: £20,000 — 30,000 / $24,534 – 36,801

Description: height 175 mm, ball c.60mm diameter, ivory with modern string, possibly English, c.1800, chipped at base, hairline cracks. Cup-and-Ball, or bilbocatch (from the French bilboquet) was a popular domestic game at which Jane Austen excelled. She gives a good indication of the game’s part of daily routine in a letter to Cassandra of 29 October 1809: “We do not want amusement: bilbocatch, at which George is indefatigable; spillikins, paper ships, riddles, conundrums, and cards, with watching the flow and ebb of the river, and now and then a stroll out, keep us well employed; and we mean to avail ourselves of our kind papa’s consideration, by not returning to Winchester till quite the evening of Wednesday.”

This Cup-and-Ball game, which has always remained in the family of Jane Austen, has always been associated with the author including on the rare occasions when it has been publicly exhibited…

SONY DSC

[Image: the same bilbocatch that was on display at the Jane Austen House Museum: https://www.janeausten.co.uk/bilbocatch-old-fashioned-ball-and-cup-fun/ ]

 Lot 124. Austen, Jane. Autograph Letter Signed (“JA”), To Her Sister Cassandra, 8-9 Nov 1800

Estimate: £40,000 – 60,000 / $49,068 – 73,602

ja-lettercorrected-nov1800-blDescription: 4 pages, with interlinear postscript added upside down to first page, 4to, Steventon, 8-9 November 1800, integral address panel and postal marks, seal tear, fold tears, professionally conserved. Jane Austen’s Letters, ed. Deirdre Le Faye (1995), no. 25.

Letter on family affairs and local news, with a charming account of new furniture acquired for the rectory at Steventon, news of Earle Harwood, their neighbour’s son then serving in the army (“…About ten days ago, in cocking a pistol in the guard room at Marcau [St Marcouf], he accidentally shot himself through the Thigh…”) and currently in hospital in Gosport, with a terse account of a ball attended by her brother James when visiting Earle Harwood (“…It was in general a very ungenteel one, & there was hardly a pretty girl in the room…”), describing a quiet evening spent with friends in a neighbouring village (“…Sometimes we talked & sometimes we were silent; I said two or three amusing things, & Mr [James] Holder made a few infamous puns…”), Also mentioning the state of health of Harris Bigg-Wither, whose proposal of marriage Jane was to accept briefly in 1802, with three postscripts, the first including news of their brother Charles’ capture of a Turkish ship and the second, written in the evening, describing the dramatic effects of a storm earlier in the day (“…I was sitting alone in the dining room, when an odd kind of crash startled me – in a moment afterwards it was repeated; I then went to the window, which I reached just in time to see the last of our two highly valued Elms descend into the Sweep!!!!!…”).

ja-letter2-nov1800-bl

[Image: this letter is on the British Library website and has been on loan to them since 1936]

[All text excepting my commentary is from the Sotheby’s catalogue]

Happy bidding!

C2016 Jane Austen in Vermont

A Journey through Jane Austen’s Letters

I have read many of Austen’s letters through the years, and certainly know the majority of quotes that are repeated over and over…but I am finally committing myself to going through each letter in chronological order and reading through all the accompanying notes and references ( my source and Essential Austen title: Jane Austen’s Letters, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 1997)…. and I invite you all to take this journey with me, one letter at a time, one day at a time. 

So often these letters, and the sentences or words from them, are quoted out of context, and I feel compelled to make some sense of it all, to go back to the original source and get a feel for what Austen was really saying.  There are so many gaps in the letters, either from Cassandra’s choice to edit and / or destroy many of her sister’s writings, or because the sisters were not apart and hence no need to write (and of course there are only a few letters from Cassandra herself, and because Austen often refers back to a received letter, and with her constant comments on her sister’s writing abilities and humor, the reader is saddened by this loss.)

There are also many primary and secondary sources on the letters and I will discuss these periodically (see also the Letters Page, which I will continually add to), but I think I better just start the process and let it evolve from there.  I encourage you to comment, suggest sources, offer suggestions or interpretation, so please visit often and participate.  For those of you who know the letters backwards and forwards, and for those just discovering them, please take this journey with me.  I think all of us might learn something new along the way.  I know I already have….

This will be the format: 

  • letter number
  • date
  • sender (their location) / recipient (their location)
  • location of letter today
  • synopsis; quotes of import; comment

So today I start with Letter No. 1:

  • January 9 – 10 (Sat, Sun) 1796
  • Jane (Steventon) to Cassandra (Kintbury, Newbury [Rev. Fowles home])
  • Original MS untraced

 This is Austen’s first documented letter and one of the most quoted.  It is here that Jane writes of her attachment to Tom Lefroy and she refers to him often in this letter…”I am almost afraid to tell you how my Irish friend and I behaved.  Imagine to yourself everything most profligate and shocking in the way of dancing and sitting down together.”  She tells of the balls- “we had an exceedingly good ball last night”, who she danced with (Warren, Charles Watkins, and “fighting hard” to escape John Lyford), commenting on Miss Heathcote (“[she] is pretty, but not near so handsome as I expected”), and the many references to friends that we meet again and again in her letters.  We read of her latest fashion thoughts, the silk stockings she cannot afford but the white gloves and pink persian (silk) she can, and much on her brother Charles and brother Henry and his latest plan to obtaining a lieutenancy.

The letter ends with another lengthy reference to Tom Lefroy:  “he has but one fault…his morning coat is a great deal too light.  He is a great admirer of Tom Jones, and therefore he wears the same coloured clothes, I imagine, which he did when he was wounded.”

So in this first letter,  (Jane was 20 years old writing this letter on Cassandra’s 23rd birthday and the letter opens with “In the first place I hope you will live twenty-three years longer”)  we are introduced into Austen’s life, her family and friends, her likes and dislikes, and her biting wit, her poking fun at others and so very often herself.  Her letters to her sister were entertainment for both of them when they were apart, and in just these few pages we are drawn into this late 18-century world, with all its domestic goings-on, and we are glad to be in such company.  These letters are a veritable feast!