Recently a tiny manuscript, penned by a young Charlotte Bronte, went under the hammer at Sotheby’s and trounced expectations to sell for £690,850.
Collectors of books and manuscripts are always keen to get hold of original manuscripts by great authors, and especially excited when there’s a work from before the texts for which they’re best known made them famous.
In the Bronte case, some who’ve read the work think that one of the scenes describing a man deranged resembles another in her later work Jane Eyre.
Likewise, in an unfinished Jane Austen manuscript The Watsons (sold for £993,250) from before she’d published any novels has future echoes of some of her later works.
But it’s not just the idea of serious discoveries that makes ‘before they were famous’ collectibles particularly attractive. Often it’s just fun to see things relating to when a famous and venerated character was just another guy.
One of the first stock items we sold was a letter by Paul McCartney inquiring after someone’s exam results and mentioning a couple of Beatles songs which would go on to be on their debut album.
Sometimes though, collectibles can go all the way back to someone’s childhood. One of my favourite items that we have in stock at the moment is a set of childhood drawings by George V and his sister Princess Victoria made out for their tutor and chaplain Mr Dalton.
George’s drawing is a colourful and lively mix with a purple boat in the background and a man chasing a scrumper away from his apple tree, using a sword. It’s signed by a 12 year old George on the back, whilst Victoria’s picture of giant-nosed gents is signed underneath.
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