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‘Brave New World’ for Modern Firsts at Bloomsbury Auctions

‘Brave New World’ for Modern Firsts at Bloomsbury Auctions

Thursday 28 March 2019 saw Bloomsbury Auctions achieve remarkable results in the Modern Firsts market, with strong results achieved for authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, William Golding, Aldous Huxley, Seamus Heaney, George Orwell, Kingsley Amis, J.M. Coetzee and many others.

Lot 39: Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, first edition, signed by the author [London, Chatto & Windus, 1932]
Sold for £15,000 - a new UK record.

Amid frenzied bidding on the telephone and online, the sale of only 77 lots realised a little over £150,000 (including buyer’s premium), with all but 10 lots sold, and nearly two-thirds of the lots making hammer prices above their upper estimates – many of these multiples of their upper estimates.

Lot 69, the front cover lot, an exceptionally crisp copy of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937, unsigned), realised £37,500 against estimates of £25,000-35,000.

Lot 39, a signed copy of Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (1932), and perhaps the finest to yet come to the open market, reached the heights of £15,000 against presale estimates of £4,000-6,000 – setting a new UK record.

Lot 3, a copy of Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim (1953, signed by author) made £4,375 against a presale estimate of £800-1,200.

Lot 30: William Golding, Lord of the Flies, first edition, dedication copy signed by the author
[London, Faber and Faber Ltd., 1954]
Sold for £11,250


A hat-trick of William Golding lots also performed exceptionally well, with lot 30, a fine signed copy of Lord the Flies (1954), making £11,250 (presale estimate: £3,000-4,000); lot 32 a collection of 14 volumes by the author including another unsigned copy of the same work in a rare publisher’s purple trial binding making £8,125 (presale estimate: £2,000-3,000); and lot 33, another group of 22 volumes by the same author including a copy of Lord of the Flies with the author’s signature on an inserted paper slip making £6,875 (presale estimate: £2,500-3,500).

Lot 11: Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale, first Canadian and English editions, signed by the author [London & Toronto, 1985], a pair
Sold for £937


Topically, lot 11 included two copies of Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (1985, both UK and Canadian first editions, both signed by author), which set a strong maiden record for the work on its own of £937, against a presale estimate of £100-150.

Of the sale, George Bailey said, “The tremendous success of this sale pays tribute to the connoisseurship of the collector, and his exacting eye and relentless search for quality in this exciting collecting area.

All sale results stated include buyer’s premium (25%).