Catalogue of the Beautiful Collection of modern Pictures, water-colour Drawings, and Objects of Art, of Charles Dickens deceased: which (by Order of the Executors) will be sold by Auction, by Messrs. Christie, Manson & Woods, at the great Rooms, 8, King Street, St. James’s Square, on Saturday, July 9, 1870, at one o’clock precisely. May be publicly viewed three Days preceding, and Catalogues had, at Messrs. Christie, Manson and Woods’ Offices …


8vo., pp. 11, [1]; a very good copy, loose in plain brown paper wrappers with inserted press cuttings of Dickens’s will and a sale report, spine perished; ownership signature of Alexander Walker with pencilled statement ‘I attended the Sale’ and pencilled prices subsequently inked over (‘Priced July 9th 1870').


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Original edition. So great was the interest in this famous sale that a facsimile of the catalogue was issued by Field and Tuer in the same year.

Dickens’s will had directed his executors, John Forster and Georgina Hogarth, to sell ‘all my real and personal estate’, not specifically bequeathed, by auction within a month of his death. The resulting sale received widespread notice, and, according to the cuttings here: ‘The prices given at the sale … exceeded all expectation. Everyone knew that men would bid high and that some of the most popular lots would give rise to keen competition, but the reality far surpassed expectation’. The highest prices were fetched by W. P. Frith’s Dolly Varden (1000 guineas), commissioned by Dickens, Clarkson Stanfield’s The Eddystone Lighthouse (990 guineas), painted as scenery for Dickens’ amateur production of Wilkie Collins’ The Lighthouse (1855), and Daniel Maclise’s portrait presented to Dickens by his publishers (660 guineas). The stuffed raven that was the original of ‘Grip’ in Barbaby Rudge fetched 120 guineas.

In addition to this picture sale there was a house sale at Gad’s Hill by a local auctioneer on 10 August of wines, china, glass and other effects; the books went largely to Sotheran’s; and there must have been a furniture sale, although some furniture remained in the family, including the desk and chair made famous by Luke Fildes’s drawing ‘The Empty Chair’ (these were presented by the widow of Christopher Charles Dickens to Great Ormond Street Hospital charity trust and sold for their benefit at Christie’s in 2008 for £360,000 hammer price, another sale that ‘exceeded all expectation’).

Gimbel Collection, H 96.

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