The later and very smartly bound set of Charles Dickens’ five Christmas Books of 1843-48 sold by Potter & Potter for $24,000 (£17,440)

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One of the books in this set sold for $24,000 (£17,440) was the first and most famous of them, the celebration of seasonal spirit that is A Christmas Carol.

In all cases the original covers had been retained within the crushed red morocco gilt bindings, each of which is decorated with a coloured morocco inlay of a character from that book. The complete set also incudes The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

Big seller

A note in the catalogue pointed out that A Christmas Carol sold over 6000 copies in a few days leading up to Christmas 1843. It was also noted that as Dickens had incurred a great deal of expense in having, for the first and last time, the title-page and other etched illustrations by John Leech coloured up, that enthusiastic response must have been very gratifying.

The sale’s top lot, at $50,000 (£36,340), was an 1851, first US edition of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick, or, The Whale.

Sold for a far higher than expected $28,000 (£20,350) was a fine example in dust jackets of a set of the works of Mark Twain issued by Gabriel Wells in the years 1923-25.

One of just over a thousand such sets issued and signed “S. L. Clemens/Mark Twain” on the front fleaf of the first volume in 1906, four years before the writer’s death, this set was complete with the two, later added volumes of his autobiography.