As many JASACT members know (thanks to Anna who reported it at our last meeting) there was an auction last week of some Austen memorabilia. The sale was actually held on 16th December. Coincidence? Anyhow, in the end, only two items were sold (thanks for the information, Cheng):
- lot 92 – Martha Lloyd’s Emma = ₤37,250
- lot 96 – Maria Edgeworth’s Emma (lacking the 2nd vol.) = ₤79,250*
Cheng said that the other Jane Austen lots (including the family Wedgewood dinner set) were either withdrawn or didn’t make their reserve prices, and suggested that it seems to have been a curiously flat sale given the quality and variety of what was on offer. The GFC? Bad weather on the day? Surely not Austen’s star on the wane!
According to a report on the sale in the Independent (UK), Edgeworth was not particularly enthusiastic about the book: she wrote in a letter to her half-brother Charles Sneyd Edgeworth, that:
There was no story in it, except that Miss Emma found that the man whom she designed for Harriet’s lover was an admirer of her own & he was affronted at being refused by Emma & Harriet wore the willow and ‘smooth, thin, water-gruel’ is according to Emma’s father’s opinion a very good thing & it is very difficult to make a cook understand what you mean by ‘smooth thin water gruel’!!
As I replied to another friend who reported this sale to me, little did Edgeworth know what would happen down the track, and in what particular regard Emma would be held!
*Suggested price was ₤70,000-100,000 so I guess it was in the ballpark.