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Gentle Readers: Today I welcome Tony Grant who has written for us a post on Box Hill. I had the pleasure this spring to spend a day with Tony, as he squired me around Southampton, Portsmouth and Box Hill – it was a rainy, quite miserable day, but the touring was grand, the company terrific! I’ve been to most of the Jane Austen sites – but not to anything we saw this day, from the Dolphin Inn to The Victory, and to the top of Box Hill – it was a world-wind tour of Jane, History, and Geology all rolled into one – Tony here tells of Box Hill, the infamous location that Austen chooses to place her Emma in one of her more self-illuminating “badly-done” scenes… with heartfelt thanks to Tony for the tour to the heart of it all…

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A view of Box Hill, Surrey - George Lambert

A view of Box Hill, Surrey – George Lambert

Box Hill in Jane Austen’s Emma

On Monday 26th May this year, Deb Barnum [a.k.a. Jane Austen in Vermont] and I drove up to the top of Box Hill. The quickest route is to come off The London Road, known as the A24, which sweeps past the base of Box Hill, paralleling the River Mole, which itself, arcs around Box Hill to the south and west. The A24 leads south from Epsom towards Dorking. A mile before Dorking we turned left at Rykas Café, which is a popular venue for motorcyclists. We took a small B road, overhung with trees. An old rusty sign leaning out of the hedgerow on the left pointed its finger to the summit of Box Hill. We turned into a wooded and high hedged lane which began to immediately rise steeply, bending towards the right. We passed a weathered red brick cottage on the left, set within a ragged, vibrant country garden surrounded by high, smoothly manicured hedges bulging and swelling outwards in billowing shapes. The road soon opened out onto steeply rising chalk grassland. A precipitous drop on our right formed and a steep incline to our left reached upwards.

Box Hill summit 1Mist and cloud swirled around us as we mounted the hill along the switch back road. The corners made us turn almost back on ourselves but always took us to steeper and higher levels. The drop to the right revealed hedges of box and scrub, clinging tightly to the side of the hill, interspersed with finely cropped grasses. Chalky outcrops appeared to our left as we rose higher and higher amongst the mist and low clouds. As we neared the summit, trees and woodland gathered around us again. The squat whitewashed National Trust shop and café appeared in front of us and a car park was situated on the left amongst Scots Pines and firs.

We parked the car and I showed Deb the way to the viewpoint we had come to see. We were seven hundred and thirty-five feet above the River Mole and Dorking town was to our right. We could see far into the distance across the

Town of Dorking below

Town of Dorking below

woodlands and fields of Surrey. I suggested Deb take the part of Emma Woodhouse, who in Jane Austen’s novel of that name, visited this very spot with her friends and neighbours but she would have nothing of it. She would be Mrs Elton and nobody else. Deb stood and acclaimed the world standing high on the stone viewing plinth Leopold Salomons had erected in 1914, arms wide to the sky.

It was very near here that Emma Woodhouse and Mrs Elton and their party of friends alighted to picnic at the top of Box Hill in Jane Austen’s novel, Emma. The groups from Highbury and Hartfield, in the novel, have an inauspicious start to their trip, an inauspicious execution of it and an inauspicious end to it. It is a turning point in all their lives. The surface veneer begins to slip from various relationships. Reality begins to poke through Emmas carefully stage managed attempts of conducting other people’s lives. Nothing becomes certain. The Sucklings do not arrive at Hartfield and Mrs Elton’s plan of visiting Box Hill to show the Sucklings the views seems to lose its purpose but she has another thought and becomes adamant about the trip going ahead. The Sucklings can go another time. Mrs Elton’s idea about a trip to Box Hill has an effect on Emma. Emma does not want to be outdone. She has never visited Box Hill before and decides that,

emma-picnic1

“she wished to see what everybody found so well worth seeing…”

She discusses the trip with the amiable Mr Weston. He is perhaps too amenable and accommodating. In discussion with Mrs Elton he gets the approval of that lady that the two parties, hers and Emma’s join together for one combined trip to Box Hill. Emma is unhappy with the arrangement but as they will all go in different carriages with the people of their own choice perhaps it will not be so bad, she reasons. It would have been better if the horse that was to pull Emma’s carriage had stayed lame of course and so preventing Emma from going, but a quick recovery from this condition, inconveniently perhaps, gave no excuse for Emma not to proceed. A lame horse is a rather lame Jane Austen joke, I think, sprung in the midst of such serious matters. Tongue in cheek comes to mind – a joke at Emma’s expense between Austen and the reader.

Seven miles were travelled in expectation of enjoyment, and everybody had a burst of admiration on first arriving; but in the general amount of the day there was deficiency. There was a languor, a want of spirits, a want of unison, which could not be got over. They separated too much into parties.

This is an interesting passage because Jane Austen seems uncertain. She lists a litany of possible causes for the lack of harmony. She can’t herself decide on one exact cause. This adds realism to the situation. We cannot explain everything in real life and neither can Austen in this scene in Emma.

Austen has Frank Churchill perpetrate, perhaps, a cruel joke, to divert attention from himself and Emma. He asks the ultimate psychoanalysts question, in Emma’s name of course. He whispers to her:

“Our companions are excessively stupid. What shall we do to rouse them? Any nonsense will serve. They shall talk….”

And then for all to hear,

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am ordered by Miss Woodhouse (who, wherever she is, presides,) to say that she desires to know what you are all thinking of.”

Emma immediately tries to nervously laugh the question off. She is taken unawares by this and denies she has anything to do with any such request. There is a desperation in her voice. There is almost fear. She knows she could not, “stand the brunt,” of such raw honesty.

“Let me hear any thing rather than what you are all thinking of.”

There are one or two perhaps, (glancing at Mr Weston and Harriet,) whose thoughts I might not be afraid of knowing.”

Who can or would want to express their real thoughts at the drop of a hat? Is it possible for anybody to express their exact thoughts as they are thinking them? Our relationships would be very strange and probably be put under incredible stresses if we did. Emma is naïve to think even that the thoughts of Mr Weston and Harriet would bear hearing. Our subconscious level is below manners and the social veneer we all carry. It would be delving into our primal depths. This is the sort of thing that Sigmund Freud tried to study and explore. Frank Churchill is being cruel and he knows that nobody would answer this, certainly not himself. Imagine what sort of story would be written if everybody told their thoughts? It is almost the final nail in the coffin of harmony and wellbeing amongst the group on Box Hill.

On the top of Box Hill

Deb as Mrs Elton

Deb and I certainly didn’t even approach such a question. Deb, as I said before was just happy to be Mrs Elton and of course Mrs Elton and Mr Elton walked away on their own at Frank Churchill’s question. I wonder what Mrs Elton thought about it?   Maybe Deb knows. As for my first suggestion to Deb to play Emma on the top of Box Hill; Emma is obviously an anti-hero. Neither Deb nor anybody else I have spoken to, would willingly be an Emma.

Geology:

Standing high on Box Hill you notice the thinness of the grass under your feet. You see flints sticking out of the pathways and white chalk is revealed in patches everywhere. Box Hill is a geological phenomenon. The cretaceous chalk that comprises Box Hill, was laid down as the microscopic calcareous bodies of plankton on the floor of a tropical sea between 100 and 65 million years ago. Globally chalk is a rare rock formation so it makes the North Downs, of which Box Hill is part, a unique geological area. Originally it was laid as a horizontal chalk platform of uniform thickness. During the period the Alps were formed, about 50 million years ago, upheavals in the Earth’s crust forced this chalk layer into a vast dome. The northern most edge was where the North Downs are now. The dome stretched over to France. The British Isles were joined to the mainland of Europe then. Chalk, being a porous and relatively soft rock, it has been eroded and worn down by the actions of water. All that remains are the North Downs stretching from Guildford in Surrey, just south of London into the northern part Kent and The South Downs stretching from a line formed by the Itchen River between Southampton and Winchester in the west to The Cliffs of Dover on the coast of Kent in the East.

 Box Hill Bridge, Dorking – by Alfred Charles Jerome Collins
image: Dorking Museum

On the steep chalk slopes of Box Hill, the 394 feet escarpment and on the sides of the surrounding valleys, downland plants flourish. Because chalk is porous it hardly ever dries out, even in drought conditions which might affect the surrounding landscape. This means plants always have a ready water supply. It is said that plants on chalk downland have a brighter richer colour because of this. Plants such as hawk weed rock rose, bird’s foot trefoil, milkwort, squinancywort and dwarf thistle all thrive in this environment. Box woodland, which is extremely ancient, grows on the steep chalky, thin soiled slopes. It is one of the only trees that will grow in these conditions. The escarpments and valley sides face southwards which means it is often a hot exposed environment. Box Hill derives its name from the box that grows on it. Box has been around since probably the end of the Ice Age and perhaps before that. The characteristics of chalk downland are unique to Box Hill’s geology. There are dry valleys cut into the north side of the hill. This is where the River Mole, which runs under the escarpment of Box Hill has cut its course in the past and where drainage streams and rivulets flowed into it, but because the rocks are porous any streams and rivulets that remain are no longer on the surface but underground. Chalk is easily eroded so it gives a gentle undulating quality to the general landscape. On the steep slopes there are patches of bare chalk and these can gleam white in the sunshine.

Chalk from the North Downs has been quarried in the past. Surrey County Council had a quarry at Brockham nearby to Box Hill. It was used to quarry chalk that could be burned in kilns to produce lime and cement. These quarries, many of them now abandoned have been left to regenerate, plants and wild life and some are now places of special scientific interest. The quarries, because they have sides cut into the chalk, show the structure of the chalk particularly well.

Black Welsh Mountain Sheep - Box HIll

Black Welsh Mountain Sheep – Box Hill

image: National Trust – Box Hill

Chalk Down land is a special type of grassland habitat that is actually man made. Over centuries, sheep and cattle have been grazed on them. This has deforested the downland to a certain extent allowed unique wild flowers and animals, only found on downland, to flourish. To keep Box Hill’s downland quality a flock of sheep and a herd of cattle are grazed on it. The sheep on Box hill are Black Welsh Mountain sheep. There are twenty eight sheep, which are moved around the hill on a rotation.  Because sheep are ‘nibblers’ they leave the grass short and even. There are also cattle, which graze very differently. Cows use their tongues to rip plants up, which leads to more tufted grassland. The breed used on Box Hill are called Belted Galloway cattle. They can be recognised by their fluffy black bodies with a thick white belt around their middles. Four males graze Box Hill and nearby Headley Heath is grazed by three males and nine females. The animals are moved around Box Hill all the time.  If it ceased to be a grassland habitat, trees and woodland would take over and cover it. This would occur through a natural process called succession. This downland supports a great diversity of invertebrates including fourty one species of rare butterflies. The soil is good for snails too. Snails require the calcium in the chalk to form shells.

Box Hill FortHistory:

Box Hill has a varied history. The old fort, that can still be seen at the top of Box Hill, was built in the 1890’s and is one of thirteen that were built across the North Downs, collectively known as the London Defence System.. They were to be the last defence of London if Britain was ever invaded. In the late 1890’s there was a treaty with France called the entente cordial but Germany was beginning to increase its strength and many of the stresses and strains that eventually lead to the first world war were beginning to stir. Previously, in the 1860’s, during Palmerstone’s premiership, many forts had also been built around the coast of Britain to defend from a perceived threat from France then. The forts on Box Hill and across the North Downs were never used. I have visited and actually stayed in one of the forts, the fort on The Hogsback just outside of Guildford. It is owned by Surrey County Council and is used for parties of school children to stay at to enable them to explore and study wildlife and local history. The fort on The Hogs back contained officers quarters just outside the ramparts of the fort and a barracks for a small contingent of soldiers inside. The forts were basically armouries for storing shells, and explosives. They comprised of strongly reinforced chambers with specially constructed shelving. The one on The Hogsback had a large area of flat land in front of it on which  artillery could be positioned if required. These forts were situated high on the downs,as much as  seven hundred feet above the surrounding countryside. The one on the top of Box Hill is dilapidated now and barred from entry. A rare breed of bats has lodged itself inside the fort and cannot be disturbed. To continue the military theme, there are stepping stones that cross the River Mole at the base of Box Hill. During the second world war they were removed to impede invading forces crossing the river. In the area you can also see examples of pill boxes, which were concrete bunkers installed with heavy machine guns and concrete tank traps. Interestingly at the top of Guildford High Street, next to the railway line cutting, hidden amongst dense trees, nowadays you can see a whole swathe of Second World War tank traps covered in ivy and moss.

Burford Hotel

Burford Hotel

Literary Connections:

JohnKeats1819_hires

John Keats in 1819, by Joseph Severn – wikipedia

Box Hill has inspired a number of classic authors, not just Jane Austen as I mentioned at the start. John Keats, Daniel Defoe, George Meredith and Robert Louis Stevenson all visited Box Hill. J. M Barrie used to sit on one of the slopes of Box Hill getting inspiration for Peter Pan.

The Romantic Movement, led by William Wordsworth, popularised communing with nature and Box Hill became a popular place to visit. John Keats completed his poem Endymion (1816) while staying at the Burford Hotel next to Box Hill. Its famous opening lines have inspired generations,

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us….”

John Logie Baird, the inventor of television, lived in the Swiss Cottage at the top of Box Hill. In the 1930’s he conducted his early experiments in television from the top to the valley below.

John Logie Baird

John Logie Baird

The strangest individual connected with Box Hill is Major Peter Labelliere. He requested that he be buried upside down on the top of the hill. He believed that the world would go topsy-turvy and that one day he would be the right way up. His other dying wish was that youngest son and daughter of his land lady should dance on his coffin.

One thing you notice, as a driver, on Box Hill is when you descend, especially, winding along the switch back road on steep sided slopes and cliffs that the road surface has had strange, almost aboriginal markings painted on it. Here and there are the hoops of the Olympic movement. In 2012, The Olympics came to London. However, many events were not confined to the capital. The cycling road races were staged in the beautiful leafy, countryside of Surrey. Box Hill was the steepest part of the long distance cycling road race, hence the artistic markings that still adorn the road surface of the road..

On our way back to London, I drove Deb towards Kingston. We passed through an area called Malden Rushett, near the Chessington World of Adventures. There is a small industrial estate, farming land, a pub called The Blue Anchor and an extensive garden centre in Malden Rushett nowadays. The long straight road that passes through this area from Dorking to Kingston was a coaching road in the 18th century. Nothing apart from fields with cattle and maybe wheat growing would have existed there then. If you look on a map you can measure from Malden Rushett cross roads, seven miles to Box Hill, sixteen miles to London, twelve miles to Richmond and nine miles to Kingston – the exact distances from Highbury and Hartfield that Jane Austen reveals in Emma.   I mentioned this to Deb as we drove along. I think she was impressed.

the view we saw in the mist

the view we saw in the mist

top of Box Hill in the mist

top of Box Hill in the mist

The Esteemed Author

The Esteemed Author

All images c2014 Tony Grant unless otherwise noted.

c2014 Jane Austen in Vermont

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Several interesting (and largely expensive!) items will be up for auction in the next month:

CHRISTIES: Sale 8952: Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts, 18 June 2013, London.

P&Ptp - christies 6-18-13Lot 174: 

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Pride and Prejudice. London: T. Egerton, 1813. 3 volumes, 12° (173 x 115mm). (Lacking half-titles, P2 at end of volume one with small marginal repair, tiny orange marginal mark to L5v of vol. II and lighter mark on a few other leaves, some spotting occasionally heavier.) Contemporary calf (rebacked, extremities lightly rubbed).

Second edition. Pride and Prejudice was written between October 1796 and August 1797 when Jane Austen was not yet twenty-one, the same age, in fact, as her fictional heroine Elizabeth Bennet. After an early rejection by the publisher Cadell, Austen’s novel was finally bought by Egerton in 1812 for £110. It was published in late January 1813 in a small edition of approximately 1500 copies and sold for 18 shillings in boards. The present second edition is thought to have been published in October that same year. Gilson A4; Keynes 4. (3)

Estimate: £3,000 – £5,000 ($4,527 – $7,545)

 

Lot 175: 

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Sense and Sensibility, London: printed for the Author and published by T. Egerton, 1813. 3 volumes, 12° (176 x 105mm). (Lacking half-titles and without final blanks, occasional light spotting.) Contemporary calf, gilt spines (joints splitting, corners very lightly bumped, small blank stain to vol. II). S&S - Christies 6-18-13

Second edition of Jane Austen’s first published novel which grew from a sketch entitled Elinor and Marianne, written in 1795 in the form of letters; it was revised 1797-1798 at Steventon; and again in 1809-1810, the first year of Jane Austen’s residence at Chawton. Thomas Egerton undertook the publication of the first edition in 1813 on a commission basis, and Jane Austen ‘actually made a reserve from her very moderate income to meet the expected loss’. The price of the novel was 15 shillings in boards and advertisements first appeared for it on 30 October 1811. The present second edition is believed to have been printed in October 1813 as the first edition sold out in less than two years. Gilson A2; Keynes 2. (3)

Estimate: £3,000 – £5,000 ($4,527 – $7,545)

Lot 192:

SETS, English and French literature — AUSTEN, Jane. Works. Illustrated by C.E. Brock. London: 1907. 6 volumes, 8°. Contemporary red half calf, spines lettered in gilt (extremities rubbed). [With:] ELIOT, George. Works. Library Edition. Edinburgh: 1901. 10 volumes, 8°. Contemporary blue half roan, spine tooled in gilt (spines evenly faded, extremities rubbed). [And:] BALZAC, Honoré de. Oeuvres completes. Paris: 1869-1876. 24 volumes, 8°. Contemporary red half roan, spines lettered in gilt (extremities rubbed). And 5 related others [ie. Maupassant, Corneille, Rabelais, Macaulay] in 33 volumes, 12° and 8°. (73)

Estimate: £500 – £800 ($755 – $1,207)

PP lizzy - brock

Brock – P&P

[Image from Mollands]

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Other items of interest at this Christie’s auction (i.e., what I would love to have!):

Lot 75:

ACKERMANN — Microcosm of London. London: T. Bensley for R. Ackermann [1808-1810, plates watermarked 1806-1808]. 3 volumes, 4° (330 x 272mm). Engraved titles, engraved dedication leaves, and 104 hand-coloured aquatint plates by Buck, Stadler and others after Rowlandson and Pugin. (Lacking half-titles, light offsetting from the plates onto the text, some text leaves evenly browned.) Late 19th- early 20th-century red half calf, spine gilt in compartments, morocco labels (spines lightly and evenly faded).

ackermann london - christies 6-18-13

ONE OF ACKERMANN’S FINEST BOOKS, the rumbustious figures of Rowlandson are the perfect foil to Pugin’s clear and accurate architectural settings. Printing continued for nearly 30 years but, as Abbey notes, the ‘original impressions of these splendid plates have a luminous quality entirely absent from later printings’. This copy is evidently bound from the original parts: with the first issue of the contents leaf in volume 1, and all the errata uncorrected in volumes 2 and 3, and 5 out of 6 errata corrected in volume 1. This copy shows 2 of Abbey’s first state points for the plates: at plates 8 and 11 in volume 1. Abbey Scenery 212; Tooley 7. (3)

Estimate: £3,000 – £5,000 ($4,527 – $7,545)

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BONHAMSBooks, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs 20752, 19 Jun 2013 London.

Lot 139: 

S&S1st - bonhams 6-19-13[AUSTEN (JANE)]. Sense and Sensibility: a Novel. In Three Volumes. By a Lady, 3 vol., first edition, without half-titles, final blank leaf present in volume 2 only, some pale foxing and staining, contemporary calf, sides with gilt and blind-tooled borders, rebacked preserving most of original backstrips and red morocco labels [Keynes 1; Gilson A1; Sadleir 62a], 12mo (173 x 104mm.), Printed for the author, by C. Roworth… and published by T. Egerton, 1811. FIRST EDITION OF JANE AUSTEN’S FIRST PUBLISHED NOVEL. According to Keynes, Egerton printed no more than 1000 copies, priced at 15 shillings in boards; all were sold by the middle of 1813.

Estimate: £15,000 – 20,000  US$ 23,000 – 30,000 €18,000 – 23,000

 

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Also of note in this auction: a first edition of Jane Eyre

Lot 147: 

[BRONTE (CHARLOTTE)]. Jane Eyre. An Autobiography, 3 vol., first edition, with all but two of the printing flaws listed by Smith, half-titles in each volume (but without the additional fly-leaf and advertisements), volume 2 with additional 8-page ‘Ready Money Price List of Drawing & Painting Materials… Alexander Hill’ tipped-in on front free endpaper (seemingly removed from other volumes), original price of “31/6″ marked in pencil on front paste-down of volume 1, a few leaves slightly creased, some light foxing and occasional soiling in margins, UNTRIMMED IN PUBLISHER’S GREY BOARDS with grey/brown diaper half cloth spine, rubbed, spine label to volume 1 chipped with loss of 2 or 3 letters, split to lower joint of volume 2, crease to upper cover of volume 3, [Sadleir 346; Smith 2; Grolier, English 83], 8vo (199 x 122mm.), Smith, Elder, and Co., 1847janeeyre - bonhams 6-19-13

 

Footnotes

FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST BRONTE SISTERS NOVEL: AN EXTREMELY RARE VARIANT IN ORIGINAL BOARDS, ENTIRELY UNTRIMMED AND WITH THE ORIGINAL PRICE OF ’31/6′ MARKED IN PENCIL. The binding seems to correspond with Smith’s variant B (allowing for some fading of the cloth over the years), but with white rather than yellow endpapers and a further slight variation in the printed spine labels, those on the present set having no semi-colon after “Eyre” and the words “In Three Volumes” inserted above the volume number. We can find no trace of any other copy in original boards having sold at auction.

Provenance: the tipped-in small price list of drawing and painting materials suggests an Edinburgh connection at or soon after the time of publication. Alexander Hill (of Princes Street, Edinburgh, younger brother of the painter David Octavius Hill) was publisher, artists’ colourman and printer to the Royal Scottish Academy from 1830 until his death in 1866. In 1847 he was also appointed printseller and publisher in Edinburgh to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (see National Archives, LC 5/243 p.61). The price list tipped-in to this copy gives Hill’s address as 67 Princes Street, where he had a shop from 1839 until his death, and mentions the royal appointment, reference to which he seems to have dropped by 1853.

Estimate: £30,000 – 50,000  US$ 45,000 – 75,000 €35,000 – 58,000

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BONHAMS:  Fine Books and Manuscripts 20981: June 25, 2013, New York

Lot 3259

[Austen, Jane]. Northanger Abbey: and Persuasion. With a Biographical Notice of the Author. London: John Murray, 1818. 4 volumes. 12mo (180 x 105 mm). [2], xxiv, 300; [2], 331, [2], 280; [2], 308 pp. Without half-titles. Period half calf over marbled boards, spines gilt. Extremities rubbed, typical light spotting and toning, pp 251-262 in vol 3 creased at outer margin, ffep. in vol 1 loose, volume 4 more so with a crack down spine, a little re-touching to vol 2 spine.

NA P 4v- Bonhams image

Provenance: T. Hope (early ownership stamps); purchased by the family of the current owner in 1960 from McDonald Booth. FIRST EDITION IN CONTEMPORARY BINDING of Jane Austen’s last published work, issued a year after her death. Persuasion was in fact her first novel, but its first appearance is in this set. This was also her only four-volume publication, all previous works were issued in “triple-deckers.” Gilson A9; Sadleir 62e.

Estimate:  US$ 5,000 – 8,000 £3,300 – 5,300 €3,900 – 6,200

 

Lot 3260: 

E - bonhams 

[Austen, Jane]. Emma: A Novel. In Three Volumes. By the author of “Pride and Prejudice” &c. &c. London: Printed for John Murray, 1816. 3 volumes. 12mo (176 x 112 mm). [6], 322; [2], 351, [1]; [4], 363, [1 ad] pp. Half-titles in vols 1 & 2. Old green marbled boards rebacked to style in calf, green morocco spine labels. Intermittent spotting and browning; vol 2 L8 with corner tear crossing a few letters.

FIRST EDITION. Emma is the only one of Jane Austen’s novels to bear a dedication, to the Prince Regent. It was her fourth novel to be published with a print run of 2000 copies. Gilson A8; Sadleir 62d.

Estimate:  US$ 8,000 – 12,000 £5,300 – 8,000  €6,200 – 9,300

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And finally, this letter from Frances Burney to her father comes to auction in just a few days:

Dreweatts / Bloomsbury auction: Important Books & Manuscripts – 30th Anniversary Sale,30 May 2013 London

Lot 171:  

burney letter - dreweatts 5-30-13

Burney  (Frances [Fanny], married name D’Arblay, writer, 1752-1840) Autograph Letter initialled “FB d’A” to her father, Charles Burney, “My dearly beloved Padre”, 4pp. with address panel, 8vo, Chenies Street, 12th June 1813, lamenting that she had not been able to visit him, “but some Giant comes always in the way. Twice I have expected Charles [Charles Burney (1757-1817), schoolmaster and book collector; brother of Fanny], to convey me: but his other engagements have made him arrive too late”, social activities, “Yesterday I dined with Lady Lansdowne, & found her remarkably amiable. She is niece to a person with whom I was particularly acquainted of old, at the Queen’s house, Mr. Digby, who was vice Chamberlain; & that made a little opening to converse… Lady Anne was in high spirits, & full of sportive talk & exhilarating smiles. We had no sort of political talk. All was elegant, pleasing, & literary”, and Sir Joshua Reynolds portrait of Dr Burney, “Every body talks of your portrait at Sir Joshua’s exhibition, & concurs in saying it is one of the best that greatest of English Masters ever painted. I have not yet, to my infinite regret, found time for going thither. Mrs. Waddington will positively take me once to Chelsea, to pay her respects to you; but she is prepared for being denied your sight, if you should be ill-disposed for company. Sally must see her at all events: besides she is a great admirer of Traits of Nature”, ink postal stamp, remains of red wax seal, folds, slightly browned.

*** Unpublished; not in The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame D’Arblay), edited by Joyce Hemlow & others, Oxford, The Clarendon Press, 1972-75.

Estimate: £3,000-4,000

[Images and text from the respective auction sites]

c2013, Jane Austen in Vermont

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The first edition Emma that I wrote about here, the one with the interesting John Hawkshaw bookplate, sold yesterday (March 19, 2013) at Bonham’s London for £8,125 (inc. premium) or about $12,312. –  about in line with the original estimate at the November 2012 auction of £6,000 – 8,000  (€7,400 – 9,900;  US$ 9,500 – 13,000), and substanitally higher than the estimate for this auction: £4,000 – 5,000 (€4,600 – 5,800;  US$ 6,100 – 7,700).

Emma bonhams 3-2013

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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UPDATE:  I posted the results here: it sold on March 19, 2013 at Bonham’s London for £8,125 (inc. premium) or about $12,312.

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Jane Austen will again make an appearance in the upcoming Bonham’s auction on March 19, 2013: a first Edition Emma – here are the details:

Emma bonhams 3-2013Books, Maps, Manuscripts & Historical Photographs, No. 20751. 19 Mar 2013 14:00 GMT London, Knightsbridge

Lot 6: AUSTEN (JANE).

Emma, 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, half-titles in volumes 2 and 3, spotting, one gathering working loose and blank lower margin torn away from advertisement leaf at end of volume 3, one front free endpaper near detached, bookplate of “John Hawkshaw, Esq., Hollycombe”, contemporary half calf, gilt lettering on spines, headbands frayed (volume 2 with small loss at head and foot of backstrip) [Gilson A8; Keynes 8], 8vo, John Murray, 1816.

Estimate:  £4,000 – 5,000; €4,600 – 5,800;  US$ 6,100 – 7,700

Now this appears to be the same copy that did not sell at the Bonham’s November 13, 2012 auction where the estimates were substantially higher:
£6,000 – 8,000; €7,400 – 9,900;  US$ 9,500 – 13,000

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My interest lies in the bookplate of “John Hawkshaw, Esq., Hollycombe” – always curious to see where a book has been and where it heads, and who are the participants in the story; it is often hard to track this information accurately unless a written provenance accompanies the book.  In this case it appears that all we have is this bookplate, and my research takes me thus, a very quick summary: [i.e how a whole afternoon can be spent tracing some stranger’s life and how it all can lead one down unimagined paths with only more extensive research to be undertaken …]

John Hawkshaw - wikipedia

John Hawkshaw – wikipedia

John Hawkshaw (1811 – 1891) was a British civil engineer from Yorkshire who was the chief engineer of a number of the railway lines in the Manchester area, later London, as well as responsible (some say the “saviour”) for the completion of the Suez Canal.  He was knighted in 1873. He lived at Hollycombe, his country estate in Liphook, Hampshire, purchased from Charles William Taylor in 1866. (To add to the confusion, the book titled A History of the Castles, Mansions, and Manors of Western Sussex, by Dudley George Cary Elwes, and Charles John Robinson (London, 1876), notes two other properties purchased by Hawkshaw from Taylor, so more research needed here.]

Hollycombe today is privately owned, but the pleasure gardens, expanded by Hawkshaw and more fully landscaped by his son [more on him below] are open to visitors, as is the nearby Hollycombe Steam Museum.

Hollycombe Steam Museum

Hollycombe Steam Museum

Their London home was in Belgrave Mansions, St. John’s Wood High Street, close to Bond Street in the heart of the West End.

But did John Hawkshaw read his copy Jane Austen’s Emma, or was his bookplate just really an owner stamp, and the real reader in the house was his wife Ann Hawkshaw? (though it is nice to imagine them all reading it aloud.)

a modern reprint

a modern reprint

Ann Hawkshaw (1812 – 1885) was an English poet. She published four volumes of poetry between 1842 and 1871. She married our John Hawkshaw in 1835 and they settled in Salford, near Manchester, where they mixed with the prominent thinkers of the day to include William and Elizabeth Gaskell. Her first volume of poetry Dionysius the Areopagite’ with Other Poems was published in 1842, followed by Poems for My Children in 1847. Sonnets on Anglo-Saxon History was published in 1854, and retells the history of Britain up to the Norman Conquest.

John Clarke Hawkshaw

John Clarke Hawkshaw

The Hawkshaws had six children, the most well-known was John Clarke Hawkshaw (1841-1921), who like his father was a civil engineer. In 1865 he married Cicely Wedgwood (1837-1917), daughter of Francis Wedgwood (1800-1880), grandson of Josiah Wedgwood, founder of the famed pottery firm. Francis’s sister Emma Wedgwood (1808-1896) married her cousin Charles Darwin (they were first cousins: Wedgwood’s daughter Susannah was Darwin’s mother). Emma was therefore Cicely’s Aunt and we can find this letter penned to her in the online Darwin Correspondence Project:

Hollycombe. | Liphook. | Hants.

Dear Aunt Emma

I am afraid it is too late to notice about the baby’s tears with any accuracy for I have repeatedly seen her eyes full of tears already but can give no nearer date than that I must have seen them so before she was 3 weeks old; about the tears overflowing onto her cheeks I can observe as I have never seen it happen yet, indeed it hardly happens in what one may call babydom does it?

We are having such a nice holiday here and as all the tiresome shooting is over I have Clarke to myself and we ride and walk about and don’t feel such strangers to the place as we did and the idle thoughtless life is doing Clarke good I am thankful to say.

Believe me dear Aunt Emma | Your affecte niece | Cicely M Hawkshaw

9th Feb. [1868]

Emma Darwin, 1840 - by George Richmond

Emma Darwin, 1840 – by George Richmond

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So from this letter we know that John Clarke Hawkshaw was known as Clarke and that he was able to get away to the family home and enjoy some “idle thoughtless life”! [images of Downton Abbey!]

Such a dizzying trip from a simple bookplate in a first edition of Jane Austen! – we have encountered various British luminaries ranging from railroad and canal engineers, to literary and Unitarian connections in Manchester, to country estates in Hampshire [Jane's own territory], to the Wedgwood Potteries of London, and ending with Evolution, all in one family’s connections.  It is comforting to think that this copy of Emma was read, enjoyed and discussed, and passed along to succeeding generations of this great family!  I wonder where it will end up come March 19th? … stay tuned!

c2013 Jane Austen in Vermont

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I begin today a run through the next 12 days of the Christmas Season with some thoughts on gifts for your favorite Austen fan or gifts to add to your own “Want-List” – if you have been “nice” and not naughty all year [please do check Henry Tilney’s dispute over the meaning of the word in Vol. I, ch. 14 of Northanger Abbey], you might find some of these under your tree!

Day 1. A miniature edition of Emma, from Plum Park Press  [see update on a second printing below!]

(more…)

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UPDATE: Prices realized noted in red as they become available

There are a number of Jane Austen materials coming up for auction in the next few weeks, some actually affordable! – and then some, not so much…  here are brief synopses – visit the auction house websites for more information.

This one is a bit different and an interesting addition to anyone’s Pride and Prejudice collection!

November 18, 2012. Heritage Auctions, Lot 54353. Pride and Prejudice 1939 Movie photographs:

Pride and Prejudice (MGM, 1939). Photos (16) (8″ X 10″). Drama.

Vintage gelatin silver, single weight, glossy photos. Starring Greer Garson, Laurence Olivier, Mary Boland, Edna May Oliver, Maureen O’Sullivan, Ann Rutherford, Frieda Inescort, Edmund Gwenn, Karen Morley, Heather Angel, Marsha Hunt, Bruce Lester, Edward Ashley, Melville Cooper, Marten Lamont, E.E. Clive, May Beatty, Marjorie Wood, Gia Kent. Directed by Robert Z. Leonard.

There are 14 different photos with a duplicate each of 1136-190, and 1136-149; unrestored photos with bright color and a clean overall appearance. They may have general signs of use, such as slight edge wear, pinholes, surface creases and crinkles, and missing paper. All photos have a slight curl. Please see full-color, enlargeable image below for more details. Fine.

SOLD $179.25 (incl buyer’s premium)

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November 18, 2012.  Skinner, Inc. – Fine Books and Manuscripts, Boston. Sale 2621B

Lot 208:  Austen, Jane (1775-1817). Letters. London: Richard Bentley & Son, 1884. 

Octavo, in two volumes, first edition, edited by Edward Knatchbull-Hugessen, first Baron Brabourne (1829-1893), in publisher’s green cloth, ex libris Henry Cabot Lodge, with his bookplate; preliminaries in volume one a bit cockled, with some discoloration.

Jane Austen’s letters speak for themselves: “Dr. Gardiner was married yesterday to Mrs. Percy and her three daughters.” “I cannot help thinking that it is more natural to have flowers grow out of the head than fruit? What do you think on the subject?”

Estimate $300-500. SOLD $250. (incl buyer’s premium)

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Lot 4 : AUSTEN, JANE. Northanger Abbey. Volume 1 (only, of 2). 12mo, original publisher’s drab boards backed in purple cloth (faded to brown), lacking paper spine label, edgewear; text block almost entirely loose from spine, few binding threads and signatures loose, several leaves in first third heavily creased, few other margins creased; else quite clean overall. Philadelphia: Carey & Lea, 1833

FIRST AMERICAN EDITION AND ONE OF 1250 COPIES. In need of some repair, but complete and in original cloth. All First American Editions of Austen are difficult to find. Later printings of this title did not occur until 1838, as a one-volume collected edition and, as a single volume in 1845. Gilson B5.

Estimate $500-750. SOLD: $600. [incl buyer's premium]

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This is the big one!

November 21, 2012. Christie’s. Valuable Manuscripts and Printed Books. London.  Sale 5690.

Lot 150:  AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Sense and Sensibility … second edition. London: for the author by C. Roworth and published by T. Egerton, 1813. 3 volumes. (Lacks half-titles and final blanks, some browning and staining.) Gilson A2; Keynes 2.

Lot Description

AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817). Sense and Sensibility … second edition. London: for the author by C. Roworth and published by T. Egerton, 1813. 3 volumes. (Lacks half-titles and final blanks, some browning and staining.) Gilson A2; Keynes 2.

Pride and Prejudice. London: T. Egerton, 1813. 3 volumes. (Lacks half-titles, lightly browned, a few leaves slightly torn along inner margin or with fragments torn from outer margin, margin of B10 in vol. I a little soiled, title of vol. III with slight stain at bottom margin, quires I and M in same vol. somewhat stained.) FIRST EDITION. Gilson A3; Keynes 3.

Mansfield Park. London: T. Egerton, 1814. 3 volumes. (Lacks half-titles, without blank O4 in vol. II or final advertisement leaf in vol. III, weak printing impression affecting 3 lines on Q10r.) FIRST EDITION. Gilson A6; Keynes 6.

Emma. London: John Murray, 1816. 3 volumes. (Lacks half-titles, E12 of vol. I misbound before E1, tear to bottom margin of E7 in vol. II, other marginal tears, L7-8 of vol. II remargined at bottom, title of vol. III with closed internal tear, some spotting, staining and light soiling.) FIRST EDITION. Gilson A8; Keynes 8.

Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. London: John Murray, 1818. 4 volumes. (Lacks half-titles and blanks P7-8 at end of vol. IV, some browning and spotting.) FIRST EDITION. Gilson A9; Keynes 9.

Together 6 works in 16 volumes, 12° (177 x 100mm). Uniformly bound in later 19th-century black half morocco over comb-marbled boards, marbled endpapers and edges (vol. I of Mansfield Park with scuffing at joints and upper corner of front cover).

Second edition of Sense and Sensibility, ALL OTHER TITLES IN FIRST EDITION. A rare opportunity to purchase the six most admired novels in the English language as a uniformly bound set. (16)

Estimate: £30,000 – £50,000 ($47,610 – $79,350) SOLD: £39,650 ( $63,004) (incl buyer’s premium)

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November 27, 2012. Bonham’s. Printed Books and Maps. Oxford. 19851.

Lot 26:  AUSTEN (JANE) The Novels…Based on Collation of the Early Editions by R.W. Chapman. 5 vol., second edition, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1926; together with The Letters of Jane Austen, 2 vol., frontispieces, uniform half calf by Hatchards, gilt panelled spines, faded, 8vo, Richard Bentley, 1884 (7)

Estimate: £300 – 500 ( US$ 480 – 810); (€380 – 630) – SOLD: £525  ($844.) (incl. buyer’s premium)

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December 7, 2012. Christies. Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts Including Americana. New York. Sale 2607.

 Lot 140: [AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817)]. Pride and Prejudice. London: Printed for T. Egerton, 1813.

Lot Description:

[AUSTEN, Jane (1775-1817)]. Pride and Prejudice. London: Printed for T. Egerton, 1813.

Three volumes, 8o (171 x 101 mm). Contemporary half calf and marbled boards, spines gilt-ruled, black morocco lettering pieces (a few stains and some rubbing); cloth folding case. Provenance: H. Bradley Martin (bookplate; his sale Sotheby’s New York, 30 April 1990, lot 2571).

FIRST EDITION. Originally titled First Impressions, Pride and Prejudice was written between October 1796 and August 1797 when Jane Austen was not yet twenty-one, the same age, in fact, as her fictional heroine Elizabeth Bennet. After an early rejection by the publisher Cadell who had not even read it, Austen’s novel was finally bought by Egerton in 1812 for £110. It was published in late January 1813 in a small edition of approximately 1500 copies and sold for 18 shillings in boards. In a letter to her sister Cassandra on 29 January 1813, Austen writes of receiving her copy of the newly publishing novel (her “own darling child”), and while acknowledging its few errors, she expresses her feelings toward its heroine as such: “I must confess that I think her as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print, & how I shall be able to tolerate those who do not like her at least, I do not know.” Gilson A3; Grolier English 69; Keynes 3; Sadleir 62b. (3)

Estimate: $30,000 – $50,000 –  SOLD:  $68,500  (incl buyer’s premium)

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Lot 86: Presentation copy of Emma. Provenance: Anne Sharp (1776-1853) “Anne Sharp” in vol. 1 and “A. Sharp” in vol. 2 and 3.

Lot Description:

One of twelve presentation copies recorded in the publisher’s archives and presented to Jane Austen’s “excellent kind friend”: the only presentation copy given to a personal friend of the author.

In a letter to the publisher John Murray dated 11 December 1815, Austen noted that she would “subjoin a list of those persons, to whom I must trouble you to forward a Set each, when the Work is out; – all unbound, with From the Authoress, in the first page”. Most of these copies were for members of Austen’s family. David Gilson in his bibliography of Austen lists these presentation copies, based on information in John Murray’s records, as follows:

  • two to Hans Place, London (presumably for Jane Austen and Henry Austen)
  • Countess of Morley
  • Rev. J.S. Clarke (the Prince Regent’s librarian)
  • J. Leigh Perrot (the author’s uncle)
  • two for Mrs Austen
  • Captain Austen (presumed to be Charles Austen)
  • Rev. J. Austen
  • H.F. Austen (presumed to be Francis)
  • Miss Knight (the author’s favourite niece Fanny Knight)
  • Miss Sharpe [sic]

Anne Sharp (1776-1853) was Fanny-Catherine Knight’s governess at Godmersham in Kent from 1804 to 1806. She resigned due to ill-health and then held a number of subsequent positions as governess and lady’s companion. Deirdre Le Faye notes that by 1823 she was running her own boarding-school for girls in Liverpool (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p. 572). She retired in 1841 and died in 1853.

In 1809 Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra Austen that “Miss Sharpe… is born, poor thing! to struggle with Evil…” Four years later Jane wrote to Cassandra that “…I have more of such sweet flattery from Miss Sharp! – She is an excellent kind friend” (which may refer to Anne Sharp’s opinion of Pride and Prejudice). It is known that Anne Sharp thought Mansfield Park “excellent” but she preferred Pride and Prejudice and rated Emma “between the two” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p. 573).

There is one known extant letter from Jane Austen to Anne Sharp, dated 22 May 1817. She is addressed as “my dearest Anne”. After Jane Austen’s death, Cassandra Austen wrote to Anne Sharp on 28 July 1817 sending a “lock of hair you wish for, and I add a pair of clasps which she sometimes wore and a small bodkin which she had had in constant use for more than twenty years”.

“In Miss Sharp she found a truly compatible spirit… Jane took to her at once, and formed a lasting relationship with her… [she occupied] a unique position as the necessary, intelligent friend” (Claire Tomalin, Jane Austen: A Life, 2000).

Anne Sharp is known to have visited Chawton on at least two occasions: in June 1815 and in August-September 1820. Deirdre Le Faye notes that James-Edward Austen-Leigh described her as “horridly affected but rather amusing” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, third edition, 1995, p.573)

Estimate: 150,000-200,000 GBP* UPDATE: UNSOLD

[*Now this confuses me: this copy of Anne Sharp’s Emma sold at Bonhams for a record £180,000 in 2008, and was subsequently sold to an undisclosed buyer for £325,000. in 2010 [see my post here and here on these sales] – I have got to hit the calculator to see what’s up with this…]

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Also in this sale:

Lot 87:  Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. John Murray, 1818.

Lot Description:

A set of Austen’s posthumously published novels in an attractive binding to a contemporary design. It appears that this set was the property of the Revd Fulwar-Craven Fowle (1764-1840). He was a pupil of Rev. George Austen at Steventon between 1778 and 1781. He is occasionally mentioned in Austen’s letters; it appears he participated in a game of vingt-un in 1801 and sent a brace of pheasants in 1815. Fulwar-Craven Fowle’s brother, Thomas (1765-1797) had been engaged to Cassandra Austen in 1792.

Deirdre Le Faye notes that he had “an impatient and rather irascible nature” and “did not bother to read anything of Emma except the first and last chapters, because he had heard it was not interesting” (see Jane Austen’s Letters, 1995, p. 525).

 Estimate: 4,000 – 6,000 GBP UPDATE: UNSOLD

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And a few from Austen’s Circle I could not resist reporting on: these are all in the Swann Auction on November 20th - lots of other finds, so take a look:

Swann Sale 2295 Lot 40

BYRON, LORD GEORGE GORDON NOEL. Works. 13 volumes. Titles in red and black. Illustrated throughout with full page plate engravings. 4to, contemporary 1/4 brown crushed morocco, spines handsomely tooled and lettered in gilt in compartments, shelfwear to board extremities with some exposure, corners bumped; top edges gilt, others uncut. London, 1898-1904
Estimate $1,000-1,500   SOLD: $1200. (incl buyer’s premium)

limited edition, number 97 of 250 sets initialed by the publisher. This set includes a tipped-in ALS (8vo, one folded sheet. April 7, 1892) by the editor of this edition, Ernest Hartley Coleridge, the grandson of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to a Mr. Tours[?], recounting a lecture he had recently given in Minneapolis.

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Swann  Sale 2295 Lot 204:

(ROWLANDSON, THOMAS.) The English Dance of Death. 2 volumes. * The Dance of Life. Together, 3 volumes. Engraved colored title-page and 37 hand-colored engraved plates in each volume of the Dance of Death, 25 hand-colored plates in the Dance of Life, by Rowlandson. Tall 8vo, later full tree calf gilt, spines tooled in gilt in 6 compartments with morocco lettering pieces in 2, rebacked; top edges gilt; occasional offsetting to text from plates and spotting to preliminaries; leather bookplates of Stephen M. Dryfoos mounted to front pastedown of 2 volumes; the whole slipcased together. London: R. Ackerman, 1815-16; 1817
Estimate $1,000-1,500 – SOLD: $3600. (incl buyer’s premium)

first editions in fine condition. “Indispensable to any Rowlandson collection, one of the essential pivots of any colour plate library, being one of the main works of Rowlandson”–(Tooley 410-411); Hardie 172; Abbey Life, 263-264; Prideaux 332; Grolier, Rowlandson 32.

 

Swann Sale 2295 Lot 205:

ROWLANDSON, THOMAS.) [Combe, William.] The Tour of Doctor Syntax, in Search of the Picturesque * In Search of Consolation * In Search of a Wife. Together, 3 volumes. Colored aquatint frontispiece in each volume, volumes 1 and 3 with additional aquatint title-page, and 75 colored plates by Rowlandson, colored vignette at end of vol. 3. Large 8vo, uniform full crimson crushed morocco blocked in gilt with corner floral ornaments, spines richly gilt in 4 compartments, titles in 2; turn-ins; by Root & Son, top edges gilt; bookplates of Edward B. Krumbhaar (vol. 1 only) and Christopher Heublein Perot (with his autograph). first edition in book form, second state, handsomely bound. London: R. Ackerman, 1812-20-(21)
Estimate $600-900 – SOLD: $960. (incl buyer’s premium)

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And despite my love of Austen, I do periodically enter the 20th century [sometimes the 21st!] and I still harbor my great admiration and love of John Steinbeck, so this I share because it is so rare and lovely to behold:

Swann Sale 2295 Lot 234 John Steinbeck. Cup of Gold.

STEINBECK, JOHN. Cup of Gold. 8vo, original yellow cloth lettered in black; pictorial dust jacket, spine panel evenly faded with minor chipping to ends with slight loss of a few letters, light rubbing along folds, small rubber inkstamp on front flap; bookplate with name obscured in black pen on front pastedown. New York: Robert M. McBride & Co., 1929
Estimate $8,000-12,000 – SOLD: $14,400 (incl buyer’s premium)

scarce first edition, first issue of steinbeck’s first book with the McBride publisher imprint and “First Published, August 1929″ on copyright page. Jacket flap corners evenly clipped as issued with “$2.50″ printed price present. The publisher printed only 2476 copies, 939 of which were remaindered as unbound sheets and evidently sold to Covici-Friede who issued them with new preliminaries, preface, binding, and jacket in 1936. Variant copy (no priority) with the top edges unstained. Goldstone-Payne A1.a.

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All images are from the respective auction houses with thanks.

Have fun browsing, and bidding if you wish!

 c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

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One often finds Jane Austen popping up in the oddest places; and this one that I stumbled upon the other day points out a scene in Emma that one can so easily pass by without much notice [Austen being such an expert at this – and the reason for repeated readings!] – this time in a book on of all things, “Buttons”!

Nina Edwards new book, On the Button: The Significance of an Ordinary Item (London: Tauris, 2012), has this little gem in the introduction:

In Jane Austen’s Emma, when Emma contrives to find out if Mr. Knightley is considering Jane Austen romantically, buttons both betray his real affections to the reader and come to his aid by concealing his distress from Emma herself: (xix-xx, I have added a bit to the quoted text]

“I know how highly you think of Jane Fairfax,” said Emma. Little Henry was in her thoughts, and a mixture of alarm and delicacy made her irresolute what else to say.

“Yes,” he replied, “any body may know how highly I think of her.”

“And yet,” said Emma, beginning hastily and with an arch look, but soon stopping — it was better, however, to know the worst at once — she hurried on — “And yet, perhaps, you may hardly be aware yourself how highly it is. The extent of your admiration may take you by surprize some day or other.”

Mr. Knightley was hard at work upon the lower buttons of his thick leather gaiters, and either the exertion of getting them together, or some other cause, brought the colour into his face, as he answered,

“Oh! are you there? But you are miserably behindhand. Mr. Cole gave me a hint of it six weeks ago.”

He stopped. Emma felt her foot pressed by Mrs. Weston, and did not herself know what to think. In a moment he went on –

“That will never be, however, I can assure you. Miss Fairfax, I dare say, would not have me if I were to ask her; and I am very sure I shall never ask her.”

Emma returned her friend’s pressure with interest; and was pleased enough to exclaim,

“You are not vain, Mr. Knightley. I will say that for you.”

He seemed hardly to hear her; he was thoughtful, and in a manner which shewed him not pleased, soon afterwards said,

“So you have been settling that I should marry Jane Fairfax.”

                                                                                          (Emma, Vol. II, Ch. XV)

Here the gaiters seen to represent his morally dependable (but compared with the dashing Henry Crawford*) unexciting character; the buttons provide a refuge, the simple task of buttoning masking his emotion.

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what Mr. Knightley was so busily buttoning
image: Gaiters, 1805-10, British, the MetMuseum.org

(*I think she must mean Frank Churchill here, as Mansfield Park is nowhere in sight…!)

Isn’t this a wonderful passage? – one forgets how clearly Austen has strewn clues throughout the book as to Knightley’s true affections. Significant indeed! And it harks back to the scene with Emma contriving to repair her broken boot-lace to aid Mr. Elton and Harriet in their “courtship.”

Any thoughts?

The book, by the way, for anyone who has an  interest in fashion and its cultural history, and especially the all-important button, looks quite wonderful:

What do you use every day that is small and large, worthless and beyond price? It’s easily found in the gutter, yet you may never be able to replace it. You are always losing it, but it faithfully protects you; sexy and uptight, it is knitted in to your affections or it may give you nightmares. It has led to conflict, fostered and repressed political and religious change, and epitomizes the great aesthetic movements. It’s Eurocentric, and is found all over the world.

On the Button is an inventive and unusual exploration of the cultural history of the button, illustrated with a multiplicity of buttons in black and white and color. It tells tales of a huge variety of the button’s forms and functions, its sometimes uncompromising glamour, its stronghold in fashion and literature, its place in the visual arts, its association with crime and death, and its tender call to nostalgia and the sentimental. There have been works addressed to the button collector and general cultural histories, but On the Buttonlinks the two, revealing why we are so attracted to buttons, and how they punch way above their weight.You can view it here:  http://books.google.com/books/ibtauris?id=Rb46WTFfQAAC&dq=jane+austen&source=gbs_navlinks_s
c2012 Jane Austen in Vermont

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