Marilyn Monroe's last cheque estimated at $10,000+

Next week (February 7) sees the bicentenary of the birth of one of the greatest authors of literature in the English language: Charles Dickens, creator of A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations and Oliver Twist.

Dickens was not, as those who've heard of him casually might think, a dusty straight-laced Victorian, but a bombastic, satirical celebrity whose works achieved their great popularity in part because of their page-turner style.

In a recent biography, Claire Tomalin facetiously compared his celebrity antics to those of Paris Hilton (such as taking his dog with him everywhere he went), though she's less well known for her satire and commitment to social reform.

His work tended to be serialised in installments, and whilst this practice wasn't new Dickens was unusual in arranging for the serialisation whilst the writing of the book was still ongoing, which may have sharpened his frequent 'cliffhangers'.

handwritten note by charles dickens
Note handwritten by Charles Dickens (available now)
(Click here to find out more)

Dickens's popular books led to his becoming a celebrity, and he was badgered for autographs when visiting America. The fascination with Dickens and his work has never really died away, and his works have never been out of print.

Dickens's collectibles have been a source of constant interest too. Unsurprisingly his books are greatly coveted in the form of early editions and even manuscripts.

In 2009, Christie's sold a pre-publication presentation copy of A Christmas Carol, one of eight known and inscribed to a Mrs Touchet, for an impressive $290,500.

The following year, another special first edition sold for £181,250 ($289,200 at the time) at a Sotheby's auction in London in October.

Likewise last year, October 2011, a single autograph manuscript leaf from the Pickwick Papers sold from the Robert H and Donna L Jackson Collection at Bonhams for $68,500.

charles dickens hair for sale
Charles Dickens's hair is also for sale

Indeed his autograph has increased in value by nearly 400% since 2000 according to the PFC40 Autograph Index.

It's partly for this reason that we're confident enough of the ongoing value of a letter signed by Dickens which we have in stock, to attach a 120% guarantee to it. We have a bank cheque featuring his autographtoo.

Indeed you can get closer still to the great man by buying a piece of his hair for just £49.95.

The quirkier Charles Dickens collectibles have certainly proved to be popular in the past. For example, the collar of his beloved dog sold at Bonhams for $11,590 in March 2010.

Dickens would probably have found this hilarious.

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