Sold for $130,000 (£94,200), this copy of Boni & Liveright of New York’s edition, dating from December 1922, came in flexible cloth boards and retained the original glassine inner jacket and salmon printed dust jacket.
By arrangement with the publishers, the edition had made its first appearances in the US in The Dial in November and in England the previous month in Eliot’s The Criterion.
The Sotheby’s copy had originally belonged to Scofield Thayer, once a postgraduate contemporary of Eliot at Oxford University and later the publisher of The Dial.
That publishing arrangement almost fell through over the financial details, but an agreement was eventually reached and Eliot was in due course awarded The Dial’s annual prize for outstanding work. As prominently recorded on the book’s dust jacket, that prize was accompanied by a very welcome $2000 bonus.
As its author gratefully acknowledged, The Waste Land was shaped by Ezra Pound’s editorial advice. In an essay published two decades later Eliot wrote: “I placed before him in Paris the manuscript of a sprawling chaotic poem …which left his hands, reduced to about half its size, in the form in which it appears in print.
“I should like to think that the manuscript, with the suppressed passages, had disappeared irrecoverably: yet, on the other hand, I should wish the blue pencilling on it to be preserved as irrefutable evidence of Pound’s critical genius.”
The sale took place online from July 2-16.
Other literary entries in the auction included a 1914 first of James Joyce’s Dubliners in a rare but restored dust jacket that fell well short of expectations at $55,000 (£34,810).
In stark contrast, a 1957 presentation first of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, inscribed for the Philippines born poet, writer and artist José García Villa made a much higher than expected $65,000 (£47,100).
Yet another first issue example of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to find its way to auction was sold at $110,000 (£79,71).
One cartographic attraction came in the form of John Mitchell’s Map of the British and French Dominions in North America… which took $110,000 (£79,710). Outline coloured, this large engraved map on eight sheets – here presented in four separately framed sections – it is regarded by many authorities as the most important map in the history of American cartography. This example is dated 1755 but is one of many later issues that appeared over the following 25 years.