Jane Austen cup and ball game to sell at Sotheby's

A cup and ball game belonging to a young Jane Austen (1775-1817) could sell for £20,000-30,000 ($25,217-37,825).

It has been passed down her family for generations and has only been publicly exhibited on a few occasions.

Jane Austen used to play the game at her home of Chawton House in Hampshire

Also known as bilbocatch, the game was a popular pastime in the early 19th century.

Jane was particularly good at it, as her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh writes in his A Memoir of Jane Austen (1869): "Jane Austen was successful in everything that she attempted with her fingers.

"None of us could throw spilikins in so perfect a circle, or take them off with so steady a hand.

"Her performances with cup and ball were marvellous.

"The one used at Chawton was an easy one, and she has been known to catch it on the point above an hundred times in succession, till her hand was weary."

Memorabilia associated with Jane Austen is in high demand, with the original manuscript for her unfinished novel The Watsons selling for £993,250 ($1.2m) in 2011.

The lot will cross the block in a sale of books and manuscripts at Sotheby's London on December 13.

The auction will also feature a handwritten copy of JK Rowling's Tales of Beadle the Bard and the key to Oscar Wilde's cell in Reading Gaol.

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