Rare Presentation of Copy of Jane Austen’s Emma Commands £325,000

Jonkers Rare Books, of Hart Street, Henley-on-Thames has announced today that an undisclosed British collector has paid £325,000 for the rare first edition presentation copy of Jane Austen’s novel Emma once owned by her dear friend Anne Sharp. Jonkers has owned the three volume set since June 2008 when it outbid all other participants at Bonham’s Auction House in London. The £180,000 sales price set a new auction record for a printed book by the British author. 

Bookshop director Christiaan Jokers revealed some amazing facts in his statement to the Henley Standard regarding the copy of Emma that I find quite debatable. 

“The important thing is the signature of Jane Austen to her best friend. That’s what moves it from being a £20,000 book to a £300,000 book.” 

“The fact that it is the only presentation copy is also really something.” 

When the copy was presented for sale in 2008, Bonham’s researched the history of its provenance and the hand writing prior to listing for auction. Since this was a presentation copy sent directly to Anne Sharpe from Jane Austen’s publisher John Murray, Bonham’s did not believe that the inscription was Jane Austen’s but had been written by her publisher before it was sent to Anne. I also doubt that it is the only known remaining presentation copy of Emma. Out of the twelve copies sent, nine went to her family and one to the Prince Regent. There must be another one still in the family or in the Royal library. 

Come what may, I am quite pleased that the sale was to a British collector and hope that it was to a museum or a certain millionairess in Chawton who will exhibit it to the public. 

  • Read my original post regarding the history of Anne Sharp’s presentation copy and her relationship with Jane Austen.

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13 thoughts on “Rare Presentation of Copy of Jane Austen’s Emma Commands £325,000

  1. That does seem a ridiculous amount of money. I was reading Jane’s Fame by Claire Harman over the weekend and I know it made reference to the edition presented to the Prince Regent. Apparently, it was donated to the servants’ library during Queen Victoria’s reign and, not being read much there, is still in remarkably good condition.

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    • Hi Claire – it is indeed a handsome fortune for one book. I am tickled though that since its 180,000 pound sale at Bonham’s was a record sale for a book that this private sale might be a record too. It is an awful lot of money, but a testament to the worth of our dear Jane in the eyes of the world. Huzzah! I hope the new owner will display it and not stuff it in a vault. It is indeed a treasure.

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  2. It is not in Jane Austen’s hand, and there is more than one of them (three I think). I looked at this book in the bookshop and have the sellers’ catalogue and they don’t say either of those things. Maybe the quotes are the product of an over-excited journalist.

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    • Hi James, so glad to hear from someone who actually saw the book and read the sellers catalouge discription. But the quotes are from the book seller – so it seems that he was hyping it incorrectly too. Who do you think owns the 3 known presentation copies still in exsistence? One reader commented that the Prince Regent’s copy is still in the servants library of the Royal family, James Edward Austen-Leigh (Jane’s nephew) mentioned his copy in the biography he wrote of his aunt A Memoir of Jane Austen so it might still be in the Austen-Leigh family. Who are the other other owners you know of?

      Thanks for your insight. Much appreciated.

      Cheers, Laurel Ann

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  3. Pingback: Anne Sharp's presentation copy of Jane Austen's Emma resold... | .: StrangeBlog :.

  4. But can you imagine just holding something in your hands that Jane held so many years ago?

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    • Hi David, yes it would be wonderful to hold something that Jane held so many years ago. Unfortunately, it is beleived that all the 12 presentation copies alotted Austen from her publisher were sent directly from them to the recipients on Austen’s list. At the time, her friend Anne Sharp was living in Yorkshire. The inscritpions on the inside are not in Austen’s hand, but were made by someone at her publisher’s before they mailed them. Even though newspaper reports claim that it was the presentation copy of Emma was inscribed to Anne it was not proved to be so by Bonham’s when they researched and sold the copy at auction last year. Sorry to pop your balloon. Thanks for stoping by.

      Cheers, Laurel Ann

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  5. Pingback: Extremely Rare Presentation Copy of Jane Austen’s Emma and Austen Family China on the Block at Sotheby’s « Austenprose

  6. i have a presentaion copy of jane austens sense and sensibility dated 1907 (MCMVIII) published by CASSELL AND COMPANY,LTD,LONDON,PARIS,NEW YORK, TORONTO & MELBOURNE was astonished to find presentation copys going to that much and wondered who and where i would get it valued??

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  7. I know what presentation copy means. But it is on the book on the page where it says sense and sensibility can send pics to verify and on the inside of the book jacket it says “ko book”

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    • Hi Alexander, in answer to your original question, this edition of Emma was very rare and totally unique. That is why it garnered such a high price at auction. A 1907 copy of Sense and Sensibility has a much different value to a collector. Their were thousands produced and they have no personal connection to the original author, except that she wrote it. If you think you have a valuable edition, then look for comparable sales online or have it professionally appraised. That is the only advice I can offer.

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