Can't wait for the sale... Collector pre-buys $730,000 Nabokov 'mini-museum'


It was so anticipated that the buyer simply couldn't wait until Christie's June 13 Printed Books sale. Instead, they acquired it en bloc in a private treaty sale prior to the auction... for more than $730,000.

The collection in question comprised the last substantial group of books and manuscripts to come directly from author Vladimir Nabokov's family. Therefore the buyer's enthusiasm was perhaps understandable...

The Russian novelist is regarded as one of the 20th century's most important writers thanks to his classic works including 1962's Pale Fire and 1955's controversial Lolita.

What's more, the collection of Nabokov's memorabilia set to appear Christie's was as personal as it was comprehensive. Included within were volumes inscribed by Nabokov to his wife, Vera, and son, Dimitri.


Tools of the trade... Nabokov's typewriters, as featured in the $730,000-plus collection

Books inscribed by Nabokov are notoriously rare on the collectors' markets, and it appears that a great many of them were in the $730,000-plus collection.

And that's not all... The inclusion of Nabokov's writing desk, typewriters, and butterfly net (the author was famously passionate about lepidoptery) makes this collection worthy of a museum.

No wonder the buyer couldn't wait until Christie's auction. 

Meanwhile, highlights from Christie's sale which actually did make it to the auction included a signed cabinet photograph of Britain's wartime Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.

Dated to 1898, the remarkable portrait shows a young Churchill in tropical uniform with pith helmet, spurs and swordbefore not the actual pyramids, but a studio backdrop. 

It was taken during Churchill's six months' leave from India during WW1 in order to take part in the Sudanese campaign under First Earl Kitchener (famous for his appearance on the war's "Your country needs you!" posters, among other things).


That boy's going places... Young Sir Winston Churchill photographed in 1898 (detail)

Measuring 192 x 125mm, the poster's unique record of this important part of Churchill's life and its personal nature, evidenced by the first-named inscription, proved irresistible to bidders.

In the end it sold or £7,500 ($12,225), way above its £2,000 - £3,000 ($3,260 - $4,890) estimate.

The sale offered a very nice surprise for its seller, and was further proof - if any were needed - that Sir Winston Churchill is one of the surest alternative investments in collectibles.  

Other Churchill collectibles currently on the market and for sale to entry-level investors include his unused "Don Joaquin" cigar. Churchill was a known cigar fanatic, and was so keen on them he even asked for a special oxygen mask to be made to enable him to smoke while flying at 15,000 feet...

Sir Winston loved cigars, and collectors can enjoy one of his cigars too for just £695.


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