Edgar Allen Poe's For Annie brings $830k

Christie's recent sale of the William E Self library produced some impressive results, especially for Charles Dickens and Edgar Allen Poe's works.

There were four notable sales of Charles Dickens' works:  a first edition copy of Bleak House sold for $134,500, more than $50,000 over its highest estimate, whilst first editions of David Copperfield and Nicolas Nickleby both sold for $158,500, nearly $40,000 and $60,000 above their top estimates respectively.

However, the most remarkable sale was a pre-publication copy of Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. Bidders were obviously feeling festive as they pressed the price up far past the $120,000-180,000 expected price to $290,500 - a world record for a Dickens book.

It was not to be the only world record at the sale however.

There were four important sales of Edgar Allen Poe's works: a very fine first edition copy of The Raven and other poems achieved $182,000, beating an expected sale price of $100,000-150,000 whilst two poems handwritten by Poe and estimated at a mere $60,000-80,000 excited bidders so much that they sold for a spectacular $362,500.

Edgar Allen Poe Two Poems autograph
Two Poems by Edgar Allen Poe

Neither of these were records. However, a first edition of Tamerlane and Other Poems, in simple tan paper -one of only two copies in private hands - broke the record for any 19th century books of poetry, selling for $662,500.

Even more extraordinary was the performance of eight handwritten stanzas of the poem For Annie, written for the courting of Nancy L Richmond, late in his life. Poe said in communicating with Richmond that the lines were "...much the best I have ever written."

Bidders obviously agreed with this assessment, and the wish to possess text handwritten by Poe caused them to completely ignore the $50,000 - $70,000 listing, with the text eventually selling for $830,500 - a world record for a 19th century literary manuscript.

The sale, at which a first edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass also nearly doubled its estimate to be taken away for $218,500, demonstrates the high value which bibliophiles and autograph collectors place on getting close to literary giants.

Book lovers may be interested in seeing the bible which Robbie Burns thumbed through shortly before his death, which is currently available to buy.


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