Inscribed by Charles Dickens for his friend Daniel Maclise as a Christmas gift, this copy of 'The Old Curiosity Shop' made $40,000 (£30,305) at Bonhams New York.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

Inscribed “Daniel Maclise, From his friend, Charles Dickens — Christmas Day 1841”, a copy in much later morocco gilt binding of the first separate edition of The Old Curiosity Shop realised $40,000 (£30,305) at Bonhams New York (27.5/25/20/13.9% buyer’s premium) on December 11.

Maclise illustrated some of Dickens’ early works, among them The Chimes and The Cricket on the Hearth, and indeed contributed one illustration to …Curiosity Shop.

An 1842 edition in publisher’s cloth of Oliver Twist that is inscribed by Dickens for William Cullen Bryant, the poet, journalist and editor of the New York Evening Post, someone he greatly admired, sold for $25,000 (£18,940).

A two-page autograph manuscript draft of a poem, ‘A Word in Season’, made $22,000 (£16,665). Most of Dickens’ verse was written to appear as songs or ditties in his novels and plays, but this poem appeared in an 1844 edition of The Keepsake, a literary annual aimed primarily at women.

A very different Dickensian entry in this New York sale was a folding pocket knife that Dickens had owned. It made $11,000 (£8335).

Mark Twain work


An inscribed, first US edition of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn sold at $9000 (£6820) at Bonhams New York.

Bearing a later brief inscription from Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain), an 1855, first US edition of Huckleberry Finn made $9000 (£6820) and Clemens’ own copy of an 1882 book on aphorisms edited by Samuel Arthur Bent realised $5500 (£4165).

Signed and annotated to the margins of several pages, it included witticisms of Clemens’ own. Next to Bent’s interpretation of Sir Walter Scott’s works, he notes: “This is the man whose books blew out a growing light & put fetters & manacles upon the limbs of modern progress.”

Malcolm X turning point


A page from the Malcolm X letter from Mecca that sold for $85,000 (£64,395) at Bonhams New York.

Bid to $85,000 (£64,395) was a six-page letter in the hand of the African-American Muslim minister and civil rights activist, Malcolm X, that Bonhams described as profoundly important and moving.

Writing from Mecca, he acknowledges the transformational power of the pilgrimage he made in 1964, the year prior to his assassination.

He notes that the people he had encountered there, and their accommodating attitudes to those of other colours and differing beliefs, had brought about a turning point in his thinking on race in the US.

Red Cross purpose

Sold at $32,000 ($24,240) was a collection of papers, both original documents and fair copies, relating to the establishment in 1881 of the American Red Cross Association.

That body’s founder and first president was the nurse and teacher, Clara Barton (1821-1912), whose extensive correspondence with her closest friend and heir, D Julian Hubbell, spanning the last two decades of the 19th century, realised $25,000 (£18,940).


One of the photographs that illustrate the a copy of Kerlin and Parrish’s The Mind Unveiled… of 1858 sold at $6000 (£4545) at Bonhams New York.

Sold at $6000 (£4545) was a copy of the “first photographically illustrated medical book published in the United States”, Kerlin & Parrish’s The Mind Unveiled; Or: A Brief History Of Twenty-two Imbecile Children, published in Philadelphia in 1858. Contents vary but none have more than the five tipped-in photographs from glass plates found in this copy.