Sarasota Estate Auction promises to fill your bookshelves, Feb. 12
SARASOTA, Fla. — Sarasota Estate Auction will hold an Important Fine Book & Manuscript Auction on Sunday, February 12. Headlining this 140-lot sale will be letters written and signed by the Marquis de Lafayette, a Lord Nelson portrait and letter from 1801, and books from Charles Dickens’ own library, featuring his bookplate and his library plate. Also included are first editions by Charles Dickens, George Cruikshank, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and wonderful paper ephemera. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
Lot 1 in the February 12 auction is a letter written and signed in French by the Marquis de Lafayette in 1803. This is a historically important letter by Lafayette, discussing the Louisiana Purchase. It is folded with nearly two and a half sides to it, and was written at La Grange, Lafayette’s home in France. It reveals a lot about the man, his beliefs and insecurities; the lot notes include a translation of its text. The Lafayette letter is estimated at $8,000-$14,000.
Also appearing early in the sale lineup is a Lord Nelson portrait and letter dating to 1801 and estimated at $8,000-$12,000. The portrait was done after a painting by J. Hoppner, R.A., and the letter itself was written by Lord Nelson to Sir William Beechy, who was an English portrait artist. In it, Lord Nelson sought to commission Beechey to do a portrait of Sir William Hamilton, who was the husband of Lady Hamilton. What makes this interesting is that Lady Hamilton was in love with Lord Nelson, even though she was married to Hamilton — a situation that would ultimately devolve into a notorious scandal. Beechey did in fact paint the portrait, and when it was finished, it was given to Hamilton. It went through several hands before selling at auction in 2008, and this letter talks about that very portrait.
There are two books from Charles Dickens’ personal library that will be in this auction. One is an 1862 tome featuring selections from the writings of John Ruskin. Not only is this Dickens’ own copy, but his bookplate and library plate are also present. The book, which is estimated at $8,000-$14,000, is housed in a slipcase with Dickens’ crest on the cover, and the bookplate and library plate are inside the front cover of the book. The bookplate shows a lion laying down with a cross in one paw and “Charles Dickens” on the plate. The library plate reads, “From the Library of Charles Dickens, Gadshill Place, June 1870.”
The Tale of King Coustans the Emperor of Byance, written and bound by William Morris in 1894, is seemingly drawing a lot of attention with pre-bids against an estimate of $500-$1,000. This book was written and bound at the Kelmscott Press near London, and rebound in Ulwar, India, soon after the book was printed at Kelmscott. With an exquisite Persian-style binding that comes from Ulwar, India, the book binder was Qari Abdurrahman’s Sons, from the state of Ulwar, where some of the best binding was done in India in the late 1800s. The covers are beautifully decorated in gold leaf with geometric patterns in blue and burgundy on front and back, and with the wonderful William Morris illuminated manuscript style inside.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400) was the first great English poet. He was not a professional writer, but a courtier and civil servant who served three kings during a long and varied career. Workes of Chaucer is another fine antique book that will be offered in the February 12 sale. It is the second Speght edition of Chaucer’s famous work published in 1602, and it has an estimate of $7,000-$9,000. It is wise to be careful when reading the text, because the letter v is actually a letter u in current-day language.
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