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First-issue copy of Great Expectations from the Lawrence Drizen collection – £140,000 at Sotheby’s.

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Sold for £140,000 on September 24, it is a first-issue copy and one described in Prof John Mullan Allen’s catalogue introduction as “miraculously well preserved”.

The reason that so few really fine copies of this novel have survived is that Mudie’s Circulating Library, whose subscribers often borrowed only one volume at a time, bought up almost all of Chapman & Hall’s 1000 first-issue copies of 1861 – thus “…dooming them to multiple borrowing and hastened destruction”.

The previous best was recorded at Sotheby’s New York in 2015, when the copy from the great William E Self collection of Dickens’ works – previously offered by Christie’s New York in 2008 – returned to auction to sell at $110,000 (then £69,290).

Drizen’s Dickens collection raised about £1.53m, but around 30% of the 243 lots, including some of the higher-valued ones, were left unsold. A full report will appear in a future issue.