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The Best of Sherlock Holmes
By Randall Stock, November 17, 2004
Sotheby's sold parts of two Sherlock Holmes manuscripts by Conan Doyle and an original Sidney Paget drawing for more than $640,000 at auction on 16 November 2004. The Holmes manuscripts included almost the entire original autograph manuscript for "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist" and one page from The Hound of the Baskervilles. The Paget drawing was used for perhaps the most famous illustration of Sherlock Holmes, showing his battle with Professor Moriarty in "The Final Problem." These and four other Conan Doyle lots were part of the Maurice F. Neville Collection of Modern Literature.
Sotheby's held the sale in New York City on 16 November 2004. Maurice F. Neville, the owner, put up seven Sherlockian lots for sale.
The manuscript for "The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist" sold at the high estimate of US$300,000 and realized US$344,000 including the buyer's premium. The manuscript, which lacks the final two pages for the story, thus sold for more than $8,000 per page.
A single leaf from the manuscript for "The Hound of the Baskervilles" realized US$78,000. The hammer price of US$65,000 was more than double the pre-sale high estimate.
The Sidney Paget drawing of "The Death of Sherlock Holmes" brought US$220,800. It's hammer price of US$190,000 was also more than double the pre-sale high estimate.
See below for detailed descriptions of these lots and links to the Sotheby's online catalogue entry, which includes the price realized for each lot.
Summary of Conan Doyle Sale Results:
Maurice F. Neville, a collector and a rare book dealer, sold an extensive collection of modern literature through Sotheby's in 2004. The collection was split in half and sold in April and November. Part I of the sale, held on 13 April 2004 as sale number N07980, did not contain any Conan Doyle material. It realized more than US$5 million. Sotheby's website lists the complete results for Part I. Part II featured detective and mystery fiction as well as Hemingway material. It realized more than US$3 million and Sotheby's website also lists the complete results for Part II.
If the results links do not work, try going to the Sotheby's home page, clicking "Sotheby's Auctions," then "Auction Results" and entering the sale dates into both fields of the "Results Finder."
See below for general information on the sale of the Maurice F. Neville Collection.
This lot includes two exercise books with the first 40 pages of the 42-page manuscript. Conan Doyle wrote this story in three Paragon Exercise Books. The final two pages, with about 250 words, were in the third exercise book and were separated from the other books many years ago. The first 40 pages are in two books of 20 leaves each. There is also an autograph title page. The two books were bound for ACD in plain vellum and are 8 x 6.25 inches. Conan Doyle signed this manuscript in four places, with "Arthur Conan Doyle | Undershaw | Hindhead" written on the cover of each exercise book.
The manuscript has some 70 revisions, including changes to the story title and to the villain's name. The story was originally entitled "The Adventure of the Solitary Man," but ACD crossed through the last word and substituted "Cyclist." Andrew J. Peck highlighted this change in the June 1972 Baker Street Journal, noting that it showed the ambiguous title reference was to Bob Carruthers and not Violet Smith. In another interesting alteration, Conan Doyle initially called the villain "Murphy" for a good part of the story, but later revised this to "Woodley."
Although the date of writing is not listed, it was written in 1903 and first published in December 1903. The manuscript was sold several times in the 1920's, presented to Cornell University by William G. Mennen and deaccessioned in 1979. It is estimated to sell at $200,000-$300,000. See above for sale results.
This lot consists of one page from the original autograph manuscript of The Hound of the Baskervilles. The page is for the beginning of Chapter XII (Death on the Moor) and continues until Watson's reply of "Exactly." It is on blue-ruled tan paper of 12.75 x 7.875 inches and includes two revisions and two corrections by Conan Doyle. This is leaf H27 on the Hound of the Baskervilles manuscript census.
Written in 1901, the story was published in The Strand Magazine from August 1901 through April 1902. Chapter XII appeared in the February 1902 issue. McClure, Phillips published the American book edition in April 1902. As part of their promotional campaign, single leaves from the manuscript were provided to American booksellers for window display. The manuscript was never re-assembled and the only complete chapter is held at the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library. The Baker Street Irregulars published a facsimile of that chapter in 2001.
This leaf is estimated to sell for $18,000-$25,000. See above for sale results.
This drawing is the original Sidney Paget artwork used to illustrate the story "The Final Problem." It is a pen & ink and wash drawing that's 10.5 x 6.75 inches. The drawing was done in two sections with the lower section being 3.375 inches and separated with an even black line. It is signed "Sidney Paget | 1893" by the artist in the lower left corner. See a photo of this original Sidney Paget picture (75K).
Sidney Edward Paget (1860-1908) is probably the most famous illustrator of Sherlock Holmes. He illustrated all the Holmes stories in The Strand Magazine until his death. This drawing was the first to include his signature and the first Holmes illustration to appear as a frontispiece in The Strand Magazine. It was later also used as the frontispiece for the 1894 collection The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. The drawing shows Holmes and Moriarty locked in mortal combat at the Reichenbach Falls.
The drawing was offered by Lew David Feldman (House of El Dieff, Inc.) in the 1970s. It is estimated to sell at $60,000-$80,000. See above for sale results.
See the online or printed catalogues for more details on all lots and photos of most items. See above for sale results.
Sotheby's provides an online catalogue for this sale (N08012) with detailed descriptions of each lot as well as photos of most items. You can view this list of Conan Doyle Lots.
If Sotheby's changes the URLs you can go to the Sotheby's home page at <http://www.sothebys.com/> and do the following:
Please note: When searching after 16 November 2004, you might need to search for lots using the "Sold Lot Archive" page found under Advanced Searches.
The printed catalogue is available and costs US$43 or £27.
Sotheby's printed catalogue for this sale includes, among others, the following important reproductions:
Printed catalogues for this sale can be purchased by
Ask for The Maurice F. Neville Collection of Modern Literature, Pt. II.: Sotheby's New York 16 November 2004 (Code Name 8012 MONEYPENNY).
This is Sale Number N08012 and is Part II of the Maurice F. Neville Collection of Modern Literature. It will be held at Sotheby's New York on Tuesday 16 November 2004 and is scheduled to begin at 10:15 AM.
Sotheby's New York
1334 York Avenue (at 72nd St)
New York, New York 10021
Tel: (212) 606-7000
The manuscripts and drawing will be on display at the pre-sale viewing on:
Thursday November 11, 10am-5pm
Friday November 12, 10am-5pm
Saturday November 13, 10am-5pm
Sunday November 14, 1pm-5pm
Monday November 15, 10am-1pm
The Maurice F. Neville Collection of Modern Literature (Part I) sale was held on 13 April 2004 as sale number N07980. It did not contain any Conan Doyle material. Part I of this sale realized more than US$5 million. Sotheby's website lists the complete results for Part I. Part II featured detective and mystery fiction as well as Hemingway material. It realized more than US$3 million and Sotheby's website also lists the complete results for Part II.
See the Sotheby's Press Releases below in the Online News section for general information on the sale of the Maurice F. Neville Collection.
Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, November 2004 page #4
[Further to the report on the sale of Maurice F. Neville's collection...] by Peter E. Blau
Sotheby's Press Release 16 November 2004
Sale Results: The Maurice F. Neville Collection: Featuring Detective and Mystery Fiction (Part II)
Sotheby's Press Release 10 November 2004
Sotheby's to Offer Part II of the Maurice F. Neville Collection of Modern Literature on November 16, 2004
Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, October 2004 page #6
[Further to the report on the sale of Maurice F. Neville's collection...] by Peter E. Blau
Sotheby's Press Release 10 September 2004
Sotheby's New York September 2004 - January 2005 Highlights
Sotheby's Press Release 5 March 2004
Sotheby's to Offer the Maurice F. Neville Collection of Modern Literature in April and November 2004
Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, February 2004 page #6
[Maurice F. Neville's collection will be sold...] by Peter E. Blau
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