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The Best of Sherlock Holmes
Sotheby's offered a Conan Doyle original autograph manuscript for a Sherlock Holmes story and a copy of Beeton's Christmas Annual on 21 June 2007. The manuscript for "The Adventure of the Three Gables" has been held by the same family since the 1970s. Beeton's included the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes in print and its sale set a new auction record. Both rarities come from the same collection.
Sotheby's held the sale in New York City on 21 June 2007. The owner, a lady, put up two Sherlockian lots for sale.
Lot 105, Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887, set a new auction record for that magazine and sold for $156,000. The hammer price was $130,000 and the 20% buyer's premium brought the total to $156,000. That beat the previous record of $153,600 set in an auction at Sotheby's in December 2004. The 2004 record was said to make Beeton's the most expensive magazine in the world, and this new sale reinforces that position.
The manuscript for "The Adventure of the Three Gables" (Lot 104) went unsold.
The Sotheby's website includes a summary of prices realized (free registration required) for all lots in this sale (21 June 2007 Sale number N08330). Their online catalogue also includes the price realized in the detailed entry for each lot. See below for more information on accessing their online catalogue.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote the original manuscript of "The Three Gables" in ink on 31 ruled pages (rectos only) that are 8 x 6 1/4 inches. It is signed at end as "A Conan Doyle | Crowborough" and contains more than 100 corrections, additions and deletions – some in darker ink or in pencil. It was bound for the author in vellum and titled in gilt on the upper cover as "The | Adventure | of the | Three Gables || A Sherlock Holmes Story."
Although the date of writing is not listed on the manuscript, it was written circa 1926 and first published in September 1926. This story was later collected in The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes. The Marquis of Donegall once owned the manuscript. It is estimated to sell at US$350,000-$500,000.
The online catalogue contains three photos of the manuscript, including the first page, an interior page, and the last page. When you click an image it displays in a new browser window, and allows you to zoom in to see details.
Sotheby's April - June Sale Schedule press release includes a small photo of the first page of the manuscript (PDF). Registration is not required to view this.
Sherlock Holmes first appeared in the story A Study in Scarlet in Beeton’s Christmas Annual for 1887. This is a complete copy with repairs to the margins of the frontispiece and a few preliminary advertisements. Parts of the original color wrappers have been restored and the entire spine is in facsimile.
The Sixth Marquis of Donegall once owned this copy and his bookplate appears on the chemise.
There are 28 confirmed copies of this magazine in existence but only 9 are still in private hands. This is copy R22 as noted in the census for Beeton's Christmas Annual 1887. It is estimated to sell at US$75,000-$125,000.
The online catalogue has a photo of the cover. When you click the image it displays in a new browser window, and allows you to zoom in to see details.
Sotheby's provides an online catalogue for this sale (N08330) with detailed descriptions and photos of each lot.
Registration (free) is required to access the online catalogue. If you do not already have a Sotheby's ID and password, it may be simplest to go to their home page, sign-up, and then use the Lot search function for "Conan Doyle."
To see the Conan Doyle lots, use the links above in the Description section.
To see the full Sotheby's online catalogue, go to the Sotheby's home page at <http://www.sothebys.com/> and click the "Explore Auctions" menu item to see the "Auction Calendar" page. This lets you browse through upcoming auctions. You can also then enter "N08330" in the "Event Finder" search box to locate this specific auction, and click the Browse Catalog choice to view it.
The printed catalogue has three large color photos of the manuscript (Lot 104):
It also contains a 6.75 x 4.5 inch color photo of the Beeton's cover (Lot 105) on page 167.
The printed catalogue is available, costs US$55 or £28, and can be purchased by:
Ask for Publication (Sale) Code N08330, Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana, for the 21 June 2007 Sotheby's New York sale.
This is Sale Number N08330 (code 8330 VOLEUR) for Fine Books and Manuscripts Including Americana. It will be held at Sotheby's New York on Thursday 21 June 2007, starting at 10:00 AM with a second session at 2:00 PM.
Sotheby's New York
1334 York Avenue (at 72nd St)
New York, New York 10021
Tel: (212) 606-7000
The manuscript and Beeton's will probably be on display at the pre-sale viewing on:
Friday June 15, 10am-5pm
Saturday June 16, 10am-5pm
Sunday June 17, 1pm-5pm
Monday June 18, 10am-5pm
Tuesday June 19, 10am-1pm
Wednesday June 20, 10am-1pm
Note that the April – June 2007 Sale Schedule Press Release (PDF) lists the sale date as June 22 but the event details for the site gives the sale date as June 21 and I confirmed this with Sotheby's.
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, June 2007 page #6
[Walter Pond's copy of Beeton's Christmas Annual...] by Peter E. Blau
Report on the sale results
The Courier, 8 June 2007
Holmes Story to be Auctioned Off
Originally online at: http://www.thisiscourier.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=142759&command=displayContent&sourceNode=142742&contentPK=17504623
Times Colonist, 4 June 2007
Victoria Bible part of prestigious auction by Kim Westad
Scuttlebutt from the Spermaceti Press, April 2007 page #3
[The manuscript of "The Adventure of the Three Gables"...] by Peter E. Blau
BBC News, 16 April 2007
Rare Holmes manuscript to be sold
The Scotsman (Evening News), 16 April 2007
Conan Doyle manuscript to fetch £250,000
Originally at: http://heritage.scotsman.com/news.cfm?id=583952007
The Express (Scottish edition), 16 April 2007
Auctioneer detects big interest in Holmes tale
[I could not find this online. The BBC News and Scotsman reports above cover the same information.]
Guilford Courier (Shore Publishing), 29 March 2007
Marsha Malinowski: An Expert on Rare Manuscripts
Sotheby's Press Release 27 March 2007
Sotheby's New York April - June 2007 Sale Schedule (PDF)
Thanks to Peter Blau and John Genova for their contributions.
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