Hair locket and S&S first edition sold at auction
Alert Janeite Lisa sent us a link to an article about the auction of Jane Austen-related items yesterday. The locket containing a lock of what might be Jane Austen’s hair sold for £4,800 and a first edition of Sense and Sensibility sold for £30,000 after fierce bidding.
The auction was held at Dominic Winter Book Auctions of South Cerney and in spite of the lack of absolute proof (the name of Jane Austen is written in hair within the piece) transatlantic interest and a desire to believe attracted much competitive bidding.
The buyer was Holybourne Rare Books of Alton in Hampshire who bought the lock for an Austen-collecting client.
(The former being quite likely–an Alton firm? Remember Ms. Lerner has a longterm lease of Chawton Great House. But we stress we are speculating, and joking a little; we can think of several Janeites on both sides of the Atlantic who not only could afford such a piece but would be interested in acquiring it.)
ETA: Oooh, check out this quote from the BBC:
“The truth may never be known and at the end of the day I don’t think it was an expensive gamble for a serious Austen collector used to spending five-figure sums.”
Now we’re REALLY curious as to who bought it!
The previous lot, an excellent original condition set of a first edition of Jane Austen’s first book, Sense and Sensibility, attracted much fiercer competition with the room bidders battling against seven phone lines.
The final hammer price of £30,000 was to a phone bidder against a pre-sale estimate of £10,000-15,000.
Proof of that old Antiques Roadshow maxim: the “worth” of an item is exactly what someone is willing to pay for it on a particular day. But first editions are a dime a dozen (well, we guess judging by the sale price, really 3.6 million pounds a dozen, ha-ha) but most of the public interest of this auction was in the locket.
“If we had been able to prove it conclusively I’m sure there would have been a lot more bidders and a much higher price.”
We wonder if the buyer will go about attempting to test the item? Hmm. (Yes, that is a hint, if said buyer reads this blog, and if you do, can we interest you in several dozen copies of The Jane Austen Handbook? Good investment, sure to be a collector’s item one day…)
We also would like to commend Dominic Winter Book Auctions (you can surf around for photos of the locket) for allowing the interest in Jane Austen to inform their marketing efforts related to this piece and not making stuff up to get in the papers. Well played, sir.
P.S. We’re out of town for a couple of days (geek conference) so if you’ve sent us news, we’ll post it soon! We wanted to get up this news as there was so much interest in the auction.