"the remains of the original inscription" [GOLD]
Next week there is an event on the calendar that every Sherlockian collector should mark well. It has nothing to do with when a particular story took place or an event of the past that has significance.
No, one week from today is when one of the rarest items of modern fiction - and certainly the rarest of Holmesian works - goes under the hammer at Sotheby's in London. For on July 15, 2010, an inscribed copy of A Study in Scarlet will be up for auction. The expected sale price? £250,000 to £400,000.
This story marks the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes in print, and this is the only known inscribed copy of the original work. Randall Stock's excellent website The Best of Sherlock has the comprehensive writeup about this particular item (as well as many others). Sotheby's itself has a video preview of the item as well. Please click through to view it.
From Randall's website comes a description of the item:
This copy, the property of a private collector in New England, is bound in three-quarter morocco gilt that was probably done at the same time as Conan Doyle's inscription. That inscription, "This is the very first independent book of mine which ever was published" appears on an extra leaf bound-in at front and is signed "Arthur Conan Doyle. | Jan 9 / 14." Following the original cover are 26 pages of front-matter, including advertisements, the title page, table of contents, and frontispiece illustration. The complete text of the original magazine (pp. -138) then appears along with all the back-matter advertisements (pp. 139-168) and the original back cover. It is in very fine condition.We have the distinct pleasure of once having held that very copy in our hands when the collector showed it to us. To say that it made us a little weak in he knees would be an accurate statement. It was a direct connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who also once held it in his hands, and it was a marvelous specimen of the near-perfect acquisition.
Below you can take a look at the 5-page section of the Sotheby's catalog relevant to our interest.
If you're interested in more information, we suggest you use Randall's site as the main point of reference. In addition to everything regarding the provenance of the book (including previous owners and their affiliation with the Baker Street Irregulars) and the proceedings of the auction, he also has a good deal of press clippings about the event. It should be interesting to see how much this item sells for and whether it winds up in the hands of another private collector or in an institution's collections.
Any guesses on the final sale price?