Dickens-signed David Copperfield first edition sells for $95,340

A first edition of David Copperfield, which a superstitious Charles Dickens signed in 1851, has beaten its £50,000 high estimate by a resounding 22.5% at auction.

The tome sold for £61,250 at today's (June 13) Christie's Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts sale in London.

Dickens inscribed his personal copy for the knife and tool manufacturer Brookes of Sheffield in May 1851.

Charles Dickens David Copperfield
The book once resided on the shelves of the Dickens library

The much-loved author had previously written to the company explaining that the inclusion of a firm named Brooks of Sheffield in his 1850 novel was a coincidence.

Brookes in turn presented Dickens with a case of cutlery, prompting Dickens to "pay" the company with the inscribed copy from his own library, in fear of an old superstition that when a knife is given as a gift, the relationship between the two parties will be severed.

Accompanying the lot was a letter from Dickens to Brookes, apologising for the delay in sending the book.

The item's value was boosted by the fact that it was one of just two signed presentation copies of David Copperfield to have appeared at auction in the past 35 years,

Regular first editions of the novel can change hands for as little as £1,000. Today's price confirms the importance that rarity and the Dickens signature can add to an item's worth.

The value of Dickens' handwritten signed letters rose from £795 ($1,250) in 2000 to £3,950 ($6,200) in 2011, at a rate of 15.69% pa, according to the PFC40 Autograph Index. We have a handwritten, signed letter by Dickens, written in 1866, available to collectors today.

We anticipate this year's exhibitions and celebrations marking Dickens' 200th year to have a major impact on the value of his collectibles, setting new benchmark figures - now is the time to buy.

The world record for a Dickens book stands at the $290,500 achieved at Christie's in 2009 for a pre-publication presentation copy of A Christmas Carol, one of just eight known to exist.

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