The Best of Sherlock Holmes


Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 in Australia:

2011 Australian Book Auctions Sale Information

By Randall Stock, June 3, 2011


Australian Book Auctions reported that they offered a previously unrecorded copy of Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887 for sale on 30 May 2011.  The only copy of Beeton's 1887 known to exist in Australia, it was bought-in at the auction.


Binding, title page, and case for Beeton's Christmas Annual copy R32




Description & History


Lot # 52: Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887

The magazine was originally published in a paperback-style format in November 1887, and this website's Beeton's checklist provides a detailed description of the magazine and its variants. 


Unlike many bound copies, this one is nearly complete.  It includes the Title and Contents pages, the frontispiece illustration, the complete text body (pp. 1-138), and most of the advertisements.  In the front-matter section, the two pages of color adverts and the 12 pages on thinner colored paper are present.  It lacks the original wrappers, three leaves of front-matter ads and the advertisements on pp. 157-168.  There are small expert repairs to one leaf (pp. 31-32) and to another leaf (pp. 79-80) with a few words now in facsimile.  The "I" of "I fancy that he suspected..." is present on page 90, line 23. 


As shown above, it is bound by Aquarius in period-style half red morocco with marbled sides.  The spine is in six gilt-outlined panels and labeled in gilt as "A | STUDY | IN | SCARLET || A | CONAN | DOYLE."  Also pictured is the accompanying red cloth clam-shell case with a leather label on the spine.


Although now located in Australia, this copy appears to be of English origin.  There are no Australian advertisements and the ones present are found in the standard English publication.


The pre-sale estimate from Australian Book Auctions is A$40,000 – A$80,000 (approx. US$42,620 – US$85,240).  It did not make the reserve and went unsold at the auction.


While the sale catalogue focuses on the collection of Dr. John Loder, this Beeton's is the property of a different, unidentified seller.  Dr. Loder is selling five other Holmes books (lots 53-57), but has for the present retained his collection of Conan Doyle colonial editions.


This copy should become the thirty-second recorded Beeton's with A Study in Scarlet, and is listed as copy R32 on the census for Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887.  Only about a dozen copies are still in private hands, and this is one of the more complete copies and the only one known to exist in Australia.


Australian Book Auctions Catalogue


The catalogue for this sale is available online as a 1.3MB PDF.  View the PDF catalogue for Beeton's Lot 52


There is a full-page photo of binding, case, and title page on PDF page 14, with the Beeton's description on page 15.  Five other Conan Doyle lots appear on page 16.


A printed catalogue is available for A$33.  Check the Australian Book Auctions website for details.



Sale Information


This is the Australian Book Auctions sale 53 of Modern First Editions and Detective Fiction.  It will be held at their gallery, with the Beeton's to be sold on Monday 30 May 2011, starting at 6.30 pm.


According to their sale catalogue, the buyer's premium will be 16.5% (inclusive of Goods and Services Tax).  Reserve prices are set at or below the low pre-sale estimate.


Australian Book Auctions Gallery

909 High Street, Armadale, Victoria

Telephone (+61) 03 9822 4522

Facsimile (+61) 03 9822 6873


To be sold by auction in two sessions on

Monday 30th May, 2011, at 6.30 pm and

Tuesday 31st May, 2011, at 11.30 am


Pre-Sale Exhibition (At the Gallery, 909 High Street, Armadale, Victoria):

Friday 27th May from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm

Saturday 28th May from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm

Sunday 29th May from 10.00 am to 5.00 pm

Monday 30th May from 10.00 am to 1.00 pm


News articles about the sale


Unless noted, online reports were available free to the public when originally posted.  Some websites may remove online articles or charge for accessing older items.


Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, July 2011, p. 2.  (36 words)

[The newly-reported copy of Beeton's...] by Peter E. Blau


Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, May 2011, p. 6.  (52 words)

[More auction news: Australian Book Auctions' sale...] by Peter E. Blau


 The District Messenger, no. 312, 28 May 2011.  (103 words)

[News from The Sydney Passengers: 'A bound copy of Beeton's...] by Roger Johnson



Thanks to Peter E. Blau, Derham Groves, and Dr. John Loder for their assistance with my reporting, and to Gavin de Lacy and Australian Book Auctions for additional information and the photos of this copy.



Other Rare Sherlockiana


Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887 Checklist


Conan Doyle manuscripts


Sidney Paget original artwork



And don't miss the lists of each year's best Sherlock Holmes books & DVDs, the most famous Sherlock Holmes quotes, and more Top 10 Lists.





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