Specialist Sale Brings Books Back in Volume

TW Gaze’s next specialist Book Auction, a popular favourite in this firm’s sale calendar, is Thursday 23 January 2020 and falls neatly between the 188th anniversary of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s birthdate on 27 January 1832 and the 122nd anniversary of his death on 14 January 1898. 


This name is probably unfamiliar to you. However, the pseudonym by which he became very famous indeed will certainly be well known to you. Lewis Carroll, for yes it is he, was born in Daresbury, Cheshire and died in Guildford, Surrey. Renowned for his literary prowess as a novelist there are aspects to his life far less familiar than Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, and his much-loved and highly revered nonsense poem The Hunting of the Snark. He was also a logician, mathematician and also a keen photographer.


Lewis Carroll is often represented in specialist book sales and this auction is no exception. One particular lot to be offered on 23 January comprises Alice in Wonderland, London, Macmillan, 1867, 6th thousand [third edition], and Through the Looking-Glass, London, Macmillan, 1872, first edition, each complete with numerous illustrations by John Tenniel. Rather excitingly the books are offered with a rare Lewis Carroll photograph and other associated ephemera.


The photograph is of Ella Monier-Williams as a child, seated on chaise longue, facing to the right, her left elbow resting upon a cushion. Ella was the only daughter of Monier Monier-Williams, a professor of Sanskrit at the University of Oxford, where Dodgson taught mathematics. The author first mentions her in a diary entry of 1 May 1866: ‘Dined at Prof. Monier Williams’. We had each called on the other twice, but never met before. I thought him pleasant, and Mrs. Williams particularly so. Also I saw the little Ella, whom I had noticed before, and wished to photograph’ (Wakeling, Diaries, vol.5, p.146). It is known that between May and July 1866, Dodgson took at least fourteen photographs of the young Ella, including several of her wearing articles of New Zealand dress borrowed from the Ashmolean Museum.


This image, an albumen print taken by Carroll circa 1866, is approximately 10 x 6.5cm and mounted on card as a carte-de-visite, is inscribed in an adult hand on the back “Ella Monier-Williams/photograph taken by/Lewis Carroll”.  The whole lot carries an estimate of £1,400 – 1,600.


There is much to tempt book enthusiasts in this eclectic display of over 500 lots, including some wonderful Aubrey Beardsley items, including a 1904 first edition copy of Under the Hill and Other Essays in Prose and Verse, replete with frontis and 16 full page illustrations, and a contemporary hand written letter front from Beardsley to the publisher Leonard Smithers inserted at back (£500 -700); and The Savoy: An Illustrated Quarterly, four scarce volumes from 1896 including the elusive very first number, with plates and illustrations by Beardsley, Walter Sickert, William Rothenstein and many other pre-eminent artists of the era (£300 – 400).


Other first editions abound including Bram Stoker’s Famous Impostors this being a 1910 first edition, but also a signed and inscribed presentation copy from Stoker to his wife Florence “Florence from Bram 5/1/11” (£250 -450) and likewise, the additions of personalised letters, cards, ephemera and presentation inscriptions abound. Often these surprise little elements can take a volume from merely interesting to unique, rare and highly sought after.


However, equally worthy of special mention on this occasion is a significant private collection of East Anglian works with a strong emphasis on the Broads, but also encompassing the topography, nature, history and art of the region, which has returned to Norfolk from Yorkshire to be sold. The market for East Anglian-related volumes is extremely strong at the moment, as was proved at TW Gaze during 2019, when successive sales scored success along these lines, including Blomefield’s 11 volume History of Norfolk (£700, 11 May) and P.H. Emerson’s Marsh Leaves (£4,600, 31 August)

This time there are rarities such as C.A. Campling’s 1871 Beccles published The Log of “The Stranger” a Cruise on the Broads of Norfolk; classics such as George Christopher Davies The Swan and Her Crew, with many others also by the highly influential so called “founder of the Broads”;


and characterful turn of the Century pictorial souvenirs of our beloved Broadland district, often published by The Great Eastern Railway Company to promote tourism to the region, as well as Blakes and other Boatyard holiday catalogues from the 1930’s-1950’s


Viewing will take place on Wednesday 22 January 10am-4pm

Thursday 23 January from 10am

Sale starts at 2pm

Catalogues available twgaze.co.uk 

Live bidding saleroom.com

Further information from Robert Henshilwood r.henshilwood@twgaze.co.uk 01379 650306