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.