A signed first edition copy of Oscar Wilde's final play, which was given to his lover Robert Ross, is expected to make between $80,000 and $120,000 in New York this week.
The Sotheby's auction, to be held on Friday (20 April, 2012), will be highlighted by the sale of this unique copy of The Importance of Being Earnest, a Trivial Comedy for Serious People. It was presented to Robert "Robbie" Ross as Wilde's first gay lover, friend and later, literary executor.
The book is one of six Japanese Vellum copies whose whereabouts are known, although there are thought to be 12 copies in existence. It bears the characteristic dedication: "To the Mirror of Perfect Friendship: Robbie: whose name I have written on the portal of this little play. Oscar. Feb '99".
Ross played a profound role in the life of the literary great. The pair formed a close relationship that saw Ross move into Wilde's home shortly after meeting. It was also Ross who broke into the author's flat to hide incriminating papers following his notorious arrest for gross indecency.
Here at Paul Fraser Collectibles, we believe that the work may well exceed its estimate. The provenance and importance of this first edition is sure to excite Oscar Wilde collectors, and the sale provides a unique opportunity to own an item which has not been seen at auction for over 30 years.
The fine copy forms part of the Library of Jacques Levy auction, which will see a first edition of Moran & Hayden's Yellowstone Park as top lot. Moran & Hayden's works have been described as "the greatest American landscape books of the post-Civil war era", warranting an estimate of $150,000-200,000.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has a great selection of rare books in stock; this charming extract from William Golding's Lord of the Flies, signed by the author makes a great addition to any literary collection.