When it comes to collecting literature, first edition and signed books are obviously the bestsellers. However, the items that surround the creation of a great work can provide that vital back story and add crucial depth to the plot. We take a look at the top 5 most fascinating literary collectibles to appear at auction…
5. Jack Kerouac's Typewriter
A leading figure of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac is famed for spending hours sat in front of his typewriter, bashing out his unique spontaneous prose on endless reams of paper.
It was on this Hermes 3000 manual typewriter that Kerouac wrote his last novel, Vanity of Duluoz, shortly before he died in 1969. The machine remains in perfect working order, despite being accompanied at auction by a repairman's receipt which helpfully diagnosed the problem as "Dropped". It sold at Christie's for $22,500 in June 2010.
The world record for a Jack Kerouac item at auction stands with the original scroll for On the Road, which sold for $2.2m at Christie's in 2001 before departing on a worldwide exhibition tour with its current owner.
4. Hunter S Thompson sheriff campaign poster
As well as his famed work for Rolling Stone magazine and his notorious lifestyle choices, Hunter S Thompson was also a respected (and feared) political correspondent. So, when his adopted hometown of Aspen, Colorado needed a new sheriff, Thompson was in an ideal position to step up to the plate.
For some reason, Thompson's promises to decriminalise all drugs and rename the town "Fat City" to deter real estate investors weren't met with a warm reception by all locals. However, in 1970 the hippy movement was at the height of its power and the madcap writer came dangerously close to being elected as he mobilised the untapped demographic.
The iconic "Gonzo" posters from his unsuccessful campaign now sell at auction for anywhere between $2,000 and $5,000, though a signed copy from Thompson himself will easily pass $7,000.
3. Agatha Christie's cigarette case
This cigarette case was presented to the man who discovered the ailing writer after her mysterious disappearance back in 1926.
Still reeling from the news that her parents had recently died and confronted with her husband's love affair with his golfing partner, Agatha Christie disappeared from her Berkshire home. She was discovered 11 days later at the Swan Hydropathic hotel, over 200 miles away in Yorkshire, UK, by resident saxophonist Bob Leeming. Christie claimed she had no knowledge of how she got there.
Leeming immediately recognised her and contacted the authorities, who helped return the writer to her home. He was later presented with the silver cigarette case as a token of thanks from Agatha and her soon-to-be-divorced husband, Archie Christie. In a recent July 2012 sale at Sotheby's it sold for $5,625 ($8,752).
2. Jane Austen's ring
In the same Sotheby's auction as Agatha's cigarette case, this gold ring which belonged to Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen soared past its £20,000-30,000 estimate to achieve a very impressive £152,450 ($236,246).
The ring is highly valued by scholars as a rare, previously unknown personal item which is intimately connected with one of Britain's best-loved female authors. It had been passed down through Austen's family since she died in 1817 and had never been seen by any collector or expert until this year.
The current world record for a Jane Austen item at auction is held by the earliest manuscript for her unfinished novel, The Watsons, which sold for $1.6m at Sotheby's in 2011.
1. Truman Capote's In Cold Blood archive
This astonishing lot is due to appear at auction on August 31, 2012 and will undoubtedly command huge attention from literary collectors when it does.
The archive contains Truman Capote's personal research from the Clutter murders, which were the subject of his most famous work, In Cold Blood. It includes Capote's interviews with the convicted killers, his correspondence with the investigator in charge of the case and even photographs from the crime scene.
If that wasn't enough to excite Capote fans, the archive also contains a signed first edition of the work which the author has inscribed to chief investigator Harold Nye. The book has also been autographed by the stars of the 1969 film adaptation and several of the other case investigators.
A minimum bid of just $20,000 has been set for the complete collection, though it will undoubtedly surpass this considerably.
Paul Fraser Collectibles has a stunning range of literary memorabilia currently on offer. This typed extract from Lord of the Flies is taken from the renowned first chapter and has been signed by William Golding himself - a charming addition to any collection.