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You will recall I wrote previously about the watercolour and its history here

Jane Austen by James Andrews ©Sothebys

Jane Austen by James Andrews ©Sothebys

This afternoon, at auction at Sotheby’s in London, the watercolour was sold for £135,000, which when VAT and buyer’s premiums are added comes to a total sale price of £164,500.
No news as yet on the identity of the purchaser. Sotheby’s are reported to have stated that it was bought by an anonymous private collector.

According to the BBC News website, The Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, did not bid because it could not raise the funds so soon after buying a ring that belonged to the author for £149,000 in September. If/when I hear anything I will of course let you know.

As we suspected the watercolour image of Jane Austen which was commissioned by James Edward Austen Leigh and was then engraved for use in his Memoir of his aunt will go on sale in London at Sotheby’s on 10th December, in their  English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations sale

Jane Austen by James Andrews ©Sothebys

Jane Austen by James Andrews ©Sothebys

Lot 283, described as the Property of a Lady has this description:

watercolour over pencil heightened with gouache on card, depicting the author with brown curly hair and hazel eyes seated and facing towards the right, in a white frilled bonnet with light blue ribbon and a white dress with a dark blue ribbon under the bust, a small section at the bottom of the portrait apparently unfinished, oval, 143 x 100mm (overall sheet size 170 x 125mm), 1869, series of pin-holes at the top and bottom of the card, pencil markings probably by the engraver, mounted, framed, and glazed, frame size 327 x 247mm, the frame being a reused lid from a casket or box, French or German, probably eighteenth century, walnut inlaid with boulle-style marquetry of flowers and scrollwork in brass, silver, ivory, and mother of pearl, loss to surface of portrait probably due to insect damage, mostly affecting the dress, slight discolouration at edges seemingly where previously mounted in a rectangular frame

The estimate is £150,000 to 200,000. Hmm…..

This image, though approved by those who knew Jane Austen, was not of course taken during her lifetime and is seen as controversial by some. It was based on Cassandra Austen’s sketch of Jane Austen which now is owned by the National Portrait Gallery in London. Will this join it on display there? We will have to wait and see.

I’ve put the date of the sale in my diary. And you can too for it will be available to watch online from 2.30 GMT onwards.

Watch this space for further developments.

These books went on sale at auction today at Sotheby’s in London. The pre-sale estimate for Lot 86  was between £150,000-200,000. Bidding stopped at £142,000. It was ,therefore, unsold.

©Sotheby's

©Sotheby’s

I have written about the intriguing history of this set of books before, here. This first edition set  was sent to Jane Austen’s friend, Anne Sharp, directly from her publisher, John Murray, specifically  at Jane Austen’s request.

©Sothebys

©Sothebys

The next lot, Lot 87, a first edition set of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion once owned by Fulwar Craven Fowle, was also unsold.The biding on this item stopped at £3800.

Fascinating.

©Sotheby's

©Sotheby’s

The Christmas Market is attracting some very interesting auction lots…ones that we ought to be interested in, certainly. As we have seen, there are some wonderful Jane Austen offerings to be had this year, but the one that I really covet is Anne Sharp’s first edition set of “Emma”, published by John Murray, which was presented to her by her friend, the authoress, Jane Austen. This  set first came to my attention in 2008, when Christiaan Jonkers of Jonkers Rare Books bought  the  set for £180,000. *gulp* Then two years later, the BBC reported that it had sold for £325,000.*double gulp*

Now Sothebys are offering the same set for sale in their auction of English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations to be held in London on the 12th December 2012.

Here is the condition report of Lot 86 from the online catalogue:

12mo, three volumes, first edition, presentation copy inscribed “From the author”in a clerk’s hand within volume one together with ownership signature of Anne Sharp in each volume, half-titles, contemporary half-calf with marbled boards, marbled endpapers, collector’s red morocco box, some light spotting, corners occasionally creased, bindings worn at extremities, some minor loss to calf, some splitting and loss to joints, slight loss to ends of spines, leaves trimmed.

The Catalogue notes record its history..up to a point…

One of twelve presentation copies recorded in the publisher’s archives and presented to Jane Austen’s “excellent kind friend”: the only presentation copy given to a personal friend of the author.

In a letter to the publisher John Murray dated 11 December 1815, Austen noted that she would “subjoin a list of those persons, to whom I must trouble you to forward a Set each, when the Work is out; – all unbound, with From the Authoress, in the first page”. Most of these copies were for members of Austen’s family. David Gilson in his bibliography of Austen lists these presentation copies, based on information in John Murray’s records, as follows:

two to Hans Place, London (presumably for Jane Austen and Henry Austen)
Countess of Morley
Rev. J.S. Clarke (the Prince Regent’s librarian)
J. Leigh Perrot (the author’s uncle)
two for Mrs Austen
Captain Austen (presumed to be Charles Austen)
Rev. J. Austen
H.F. Austen (presumed to be Francis)
Miss Knight (the author’s favourite niece Fanny Knight)
Miss Sharpe [sic]

Anne Sharp (1776-1853) was Fanny-Catherine Knight’s governess at Godmersham in Kent from 1804 to 1806. She resigned due to ill-health and then held a number of subsequent positions as governess and lady’s companion. Deirdre Le Faye notes that by 1823 she was running her own boarding-school for girls in Liverpool (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p. 572). She retired in 1841 and died in 1853.

In 1809 Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra Austen that “Miss Sharpe… is born, poor thing! to struggle with Evil…” Four years later Jane wrote to Cassandra that “…I have more of such sweet flattery from Miss Sharp! – She is an excellent kind friend” (which may refer to Anne Sharp’s opinion of Pride and Prejudice). It is known that Anne Sharp thought Mansfield Park “excellent” but she preferred Pride and Prejudice and rated Emma “between the two” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p. 573).

There is one known extant letter from Jane Austen to Anne Sharp, dated 22 May 1817. She is addressed as “my dearest Anne”. After Jane Austen’s death, Cassandra Austen wrote to Anne Sharp on 28 July 1817 sending a “lock of hair you wish for, and I add a pair of clasps which she sometimes wore and a small bodkin which she had had in constant use for more than twenty years”.

“In Miss Sharp she found a truly compatible spirit… Jane took to her at once, and formed a lasting relationship with her… [she occupied] a unique position as the necessary, intelligent friend” (Claire Tomalin, Jane Austen A Life, 2000).

Anne Sharp is known to have visited Chawton on at least two occasions: in June 1815 and in August-September 1820. Deirdre Le Faye notes that James-Edward Austen-Leigh described her as “horridly affected but rather amusing” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p.573)

However, what is interesting to me is the current auction estimate ….which is £150,000-£200,000…and which even I with my rudimentary grasp of maths can deduce  means that someone may be anticipating they might be taking a hit on this set. Or not….it all remains to be seen. I will be watching this one….and reporting back, you can be assured.

©Sotheby's

©Sotheby’s

Also for sale in the same sale is Lot 87,  a first edition set of Northanger Abbey and Persuasion by Jane Austen, published by John Murray. This also has another interesting connection to Jane Austen. The set is inscribed F C Fowle, and would appear to have been owned by Fulwar-Craven Fowle, the brother of Tom Fowle, who was engaged to Cassandra Austen but he sadly died in the West Indies before they could marry.

The catalogue notes:

It appears that this set was the property of the Revd Fulwar-Craven Fowle (1764-1840). He was a pupil of Rev. George Austen at Steventon between 1778 and 1781. He is occasionally mentioned in Austen’s letters; it appears he participated in a game of vingt-un in 1801 and sent a brace of pheasants in 1815. Fulwar-Craven Fowle’s brother, Thomas (1765-1797) had been engaged to Cassandra Austen in 1792.

Deirdre Le Faye notes that he had “an impatient and rather irascible nature” and “did not bother to read anything of Emma except the first and last chapters, because he had heard it was not interesting” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, 1995, p. 525).

This has a sale estimate of £4000-6000, which is more affordable than Lot 86(well, everything is relative!) but I know which set I would prefer to own. I’ll report back.

Sotheby’s, the London auctioneers, are to sell the manuscript of Jane Austen’s unfinished work The Watsons on July 14th this year.

This is, of course, one of the few manuscripts of her adult works remaining to us, the only others that remain being the cancelled chapters of Persuasion and her other unfinished novel, Sandition, which she worked on until just before her death. She put the manuscript aside on March 18th, 1817.

Written on paper watermarked “1803” , The Watsons was thought by Edward Austen Leigh to have been written in Bath before 1805. My research disagrees with this date, and I am of the opinion that the family tradition, held by Francis Austen’s descendants,  that Jane Austen began and ended her work on the manuscript in 1807, while she was living in reduced circumstances in Southampton, is more likely to be correct. It is thought that she failed to complete the novel because the heroine, Emma Watson’s impoverished circumstances  were too close  to the situation Jane Austen found herself in, both socially and financially, after the death of her father in Bath in 1805.

The manuscript has had an interesting history. It is now in two parts, the first twelve pages, on six leaves of paper, are owned by the Morgan library in New York, and can be seen here

 The next few pages,according to this report in the Guardian Newspaper, were inexplicably lost by Queen Mary College of the University of London which has had custody of the manuscript.

The college’s director of library services Emma Bull said it happened six years ago, before she arrived, and had resulted in a full investigation which, alas, “did not really come to any firm conclusions about what specifically happened.” There had been a hope that they would turn up, but clearly that is now highly unlikely.

The website, Jane Austen’s Fiction Manuscripts tells us that

The manuscript descended from Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra to her niece Caroline Mary Craven Austen (1805-1880), the younger daughter of their eldest brother James. It was in Caroline’s possession when first published in 1871 by her brother James Edward Austen-Leigh. It passed to Caroline Austen’s nephew, William Austen-Leigh, and he presented the first six leaves (a quire of two leaves and a quire of four leaves) to a charity sale in aid of the Red Cross Society at Christie, Manson, and Woods’s on 26 April 1915. Lot 1520, it sold for £65 to Lady Wernher. Page 1 of this portion of the manuscript bears the two red stamps of the Red Cross Society and the Order of St John. R. W. Chapman made the first and only close scholarly examination of the entire holograph manuscript in 1924, by which time these six leaves were in the possession of Lady Alice Ludlow.  Soon afterwards this smaller portion was with the London dealer C. J. Sawyer, who, after unsuccessfully trying to purchase the larger part of the manuscript from its then owners, Lionel Arthur Austen-Leigh and his three sisters (the nephew and nieces of William Austen-Leigh), offered the fragment for sale for £385. It was acquired in 1925 for £317.5s.6d by the Morgan Library, where it remains. The larger portion of the manuscript was in Austen-Leigh family ownership (though much of the time on deposit in the British Museum) until 1978 when it was sold at Sotheby’s London for £38,000, to the British Rail Pension Fund. It was again auctioned in 1988, at Sotheby’s London, and was sold for £90,000. Since 1988 it has been the property of Sir Peter Michael and is now on deposit at Queen Mary, University of London, where Sir Peter was once a student.

Southey’s are selling the larger part owned by Sir Peter Michael. They are, of course, delighted to be the auction house chosen to conduct the sale and Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby’s senior specialist in books and manuscripts, says without exaggeration, in my humble opinion:

“It is very exciting. This is the most significant Austen material to come on the market since the late 1980s.”

He also commented on Jane Austen writing style from the evidence of the manuscript:

“Writers often fall into two categories,” said Heaton. “The ones who fall into a moment of great inspiration and that’s it and then you have others who endlessly go back and write and tinker. Austen is clearly of the latter variety. It really is a wonderful, evocative document.”

If you would like to see the facsimiles of the pages to be sold , then please go here

I will of course keep an eye out for the result of this auction and will let you know what price the manuscript fetches and, if known,  the identity of the purchaser…I have a sneaking suspicion that unless it is a public institution, that information will remain a secret , …don’t you?

…was sold at Sotheby’s yesterday in the same sale that witnessed Maria Edgeworth’s incomplete copy of Emma sell for £79, 250.

This surely was the better bargain of the two lots, not only taking into account its sale price £37,250 and completeness. but also because of its wonderful association with the Austen ladies great friend Martha,who lived with them in Southampton and Chawton. She was Jane Austen’s life long friend, was the sister to Jame’s Austen’s second wife and eventually became Francis Austen’s second wife.

I know which set I would  rather have in my Christmas Stocking( but I think the likelihood of any First Editions of Emma appearing in this year’s stocking to be rather remote).

Here is the link to Sotheby’s website for all the details.

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