From Austen to Wilde, Stoker to Scott - Classic Novels go under the hammer in Somerset

PUBLISHED: 10:49 05 February 2013 | UPDATED: 22:41 20 February 2013

World renowned author Oscar Wilde's controversial novel 'Salome' was just one of the offerings up for grabs at the recent auction

World renowned author Oscar Wilde's controversial novel 'Salome' was just one of the offerings up for grabs at the recent auction

A remarkable variety came under the hammer at Lawrences' recent auction of books, maps and manuscripts.

A remarkable variety came under the hammer at Lawrences recent auction of books, maps and manuscripts in Crewkerne.


Plenty of eager buyers chose to bid live via the internet and showed the usual passion amongst bibliophiles for items of rarity, quality, provenance and interest. There was predictable local interest in John Hutchinss History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset in four volumes which made 1,010 but items of Polar interest attracted bids from further afield. Captain Scott's Voyage of the Discovery included a personal, signed letter to Mrs Hammick and made 4,540; a presentation copy of Sir Ernest Shackleton's South detailing the extraordinary adventures of the Endurance expedition took 4,540 too; and a rare prospectus for the same Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition included a signed letter from Shackleton and was bought for 4,060.


Jane Austens Novels in five volumes from 1833 caught the market with perfect timing for the bi-centenary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice and were bought for 4,060. Meanwhile, a first edition of Oscar Wildes Salome from 1893 neared its top estimate to take 2,330; whilst a vast quantity of papers relating to the Beague and St. John Mildmay family were making up to 1,300 per lot. James Blackamores manuscript surveyor's map of Pendomer near Yeovil from 1775 found local appeal to make 450.


The days two highest prices were paid for vastly dissimilar items. A Bible, printed in 1650, attracted keen interest. It contained 82 lavish full-page engraved plates and a further 92 smaller engraved illustrations, most with gold highlights. The Bible's history could be traced back through the Cole family, the Ibbetson family and thence to General Fairfax of Denton who was, paradoxically, a supporter of the Restoration but an enemy of Charles I. Bound in 18th Century red morocco with elaborate gilt tooling, the Bible had sufficient appeal to make 16,130.


The days highest price was paid for a rare, inscribed first edition of Bram Stoker's groundbreaking vampire novel, Dracula from 1897, given by the author to the playwright Lucy Clifford (1846-1929) upon its publication. The dazzling binding of mustard yellow cloth with lurid scarlet lettering would have made it eye-catching enough amongst the generally restrained bindings of late Victorian England but the content of the ghoulish volume has inspired film makers, writers and even cartoonists for over 110 years. Following intense bidding, the book was bought for close to 40,000.

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