A display of the original, 1836-37 parts issue of Dickens’ 'Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club' sold for £40,000 by Bonhams.

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An exceptional example of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club was one of the literary attractions of a December 1 sale held by Bonhams (27.5/25/20/14.5% buyer’s premium).

As originally issued as 20 parts (in 19) from April 1836 to November of the following year, this set – which was painstakingly selected and assembled in the 1930s – took £40,000.

It was the star turn among Dickens lots that came from the collections of WH Collis of Liverpool, and a lot for which the detailed cataloguing was exemplary and impressive.

Potter attic find

All Harry Potter records were to be shattered only a week or so later in a US sale – as noted in a separate story in this edition – but a 1997, first-impression copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the book that launched his spectacular career, offered in the Knightsbridge auction nevertheless did pretty well in selling at £85,000.

It had lain in the consignor’s attic for many years but when quite recently re-discovered was at first stored in a saucepan for safety!

As supporting acts, the Bonhams sale presented an uncorrected proof copy of JK Rowling’s first book in its yellow and white jacket together with a separate proof sheet of the proposed cover design, sold at £28,000, as well as a copy of the first paperback edition.

The latter, bid to £13,000, was inscribed To Davey and Tommy – great to meet you at last! J.K. Rowling.

The boys were the eldest sons of Jenny Brown, who from 1996-2002 was the literature director for the Scottish Arts Council, and someone whose work included a programme of financial aid for new writers of children’s fiction.

The first person to apply, though not immediately successful, was the as then unpublished JK Rowling.

Other very different lots of note in the London sale included, at £60,000, a substantially complete Latin manuscript Bible that was dated to the mid-13th century and thought to be of either English or northern French origin.


The colourful flags from a United East India Company signal book sold in at Bonhams for £12,000.

A United East India Company signal book dating from 1790 included a plate illustrating some 37 flags, along with notes of expenditure on slates, lamp oil, seeds, etc.

Contained in contemporary morocco-backed marbled boards, and bearing the printed label Signals for East-India Ships, it sold at £12,000.