• <b>Bonhams:</b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Measure for Measure</i> (extracted from the First Folio). London, 1623. Sold for $52,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> HAWTHORNE, NATHANIEL. <i>Fanshawe, A Tale.</i> Boston, 1828. FIRST EDITION OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $47,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> THOREAU, HENRY DAVID. <i>Walden; Or, Life in the Woods.</i> Boston, 1854. FINE COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams: </b> SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM. <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies.</i> London, 1685. THE FOURTH FOLIO, Brewster/Bentley issue. Sold for $43,825.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> STEIG, WILLIAM. Original maquette and 58 finished drawings for <i>The Agony in the Kindergarten,</i> one of Steig's most important books. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> KING, STEPHEN. <i>Carrie.</i> New York, 1974. INSCRIBED FIRST EDITION, OF AUTHOR'S FIRST BOOK. Sold for $1,912.50.
    <b><center>Bonhams<br>Consignments invited (2020)</b>
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE MACINTOSH PROTOTYPE. 1983. The earliest known Macintosh with "Twiggy" drive, one of only two known working machines. Sold for $150,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> LOVELACE, AUGUSTA ADA. Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage Esq. London, 1843. FIRST EDITION, JOURNAL ISSUE, MOST IMPORTANT PAPER IN EARLY DIGITAL COMPUTING. Sold for $15,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> APPLE-1 COMPUTER. Signed by Steve Wozniak, used in development of Apple II. Sold for $175,075.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> DARWIN, CHARLES. 1809-1882. <i>On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection.</i> London, 1859. FIRST EDITION. Sold for $131,325.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> BOOLE, GEORGE. <i>An Investigation of the Laws of Thought.</i> London, 1854. Sold for $12,575.
    <b>Bonhams:</b> SHANNON, CLAUDE and WARREN WEAVER. <i>The Mathematical Theory of Communication.</i> Urbana, 1949. Sold for $27,575.
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>January 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> <i>Byblia in vulgar ultimamente impressa,</i> illustrated, folio, Lazaro de Soardi & Bernardino Benali, Venice,1517. £8,000 to £12,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Milio (Agostino). <i>Nuovo dialogo delle devozioni del sacro monte della Verna,</i> FIRST and ONLY EDITION, illustrated, 4to, Stamperia Ducale, Florence, 1568. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Joyce (James). <i>Ulysses,</i> First English edition, NUMBER 23 OF 2000 COPIES, , 4to, Egoist Press, Paris, 1922. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Dumas (Marlene). <i>Doornrosie,</i> lithograph printed in colours, signed, 370 x 440 mm, 1989. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Japanese Culture.- Kimbei (Kusakabe). Two albums of hand tinted albumen prints, each with 50 photos, each photo c.140 x 95mm, [late 19th century]. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Miró (Joan) ARR. <i>Personnages sur Fond Noir,</i> NUMBER 38 OF 75 COPIES, lithograph, signed and dated, 305 x 445mm, 1948. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Ray (Man). Autoportrait, photolithograph, initialled and inscribed by artist, ONE of 100 COPIES, 200 x 160mm, 1972. £800 to £1,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Wou-Ki (Zao). L'tang / The Pond, etching aquatint, number 2 of 3 only, signed by artist, 260 x 230 mm, Paris, Editions Galanis, 1972. £800 to £1,200.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Autographs & Memorabilia<br>January 28, 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> De Amicis (Edmondo). Postcards signed by Italian author and journalist Edmondo De Amicis, February 1897- August 1907. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Live Aid.- Live Aid 1985 souvenir programme, signed by Bob Geldof, Cliff Richard, Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, Freddie Mercury, and others, 1985-1991. £3,000 to £4,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> 1944 Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. Black and white, landscape photograph ft. all the Heads of Government of the British Commonwealth who attended the 1944 Prime Ministers' Conference in London, signed by all.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Walt Disney Production.- Dopey, original animation cel from Snow White approx. 180 x 180mm., Walt Disney Enterprises, 1937. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Liszt (Franz). Carte-de-visite photograph by J.Ganz of Brussels of Franz Liszt, signed, 10 x 6.4cm, c. 1880. £1,000 to £1,500.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Jan. 28:</b> Fermi (Enrico). Autograph letter signed to Professor Tullio Levi Civita, 8vo, Florence, 9 May 1925; w/an autograph note from Professor Civita, 7 March 1934 (2). £1,800 to £2,200.
  • <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Abraham Lincoln Endorsement Signed, March 16, 1865. Framed with a lithograph of Lincoln by Dwight C. Sturges.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Thomas Edison Stunning Signed Portrait.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Franz Liszt Signed Photo.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Subscription for Portraits of the Presidents Signed by J. Q. Adams, Polk, Jackson, Buchanan, and Writers Dickens, Bryant and More!
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Vinson Supreme Court Signed Presentation Photo.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Collection of Three Financial Items.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Rare Sigmund Freud ALS Related to Sexual Issues.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> New York Yankees team signed baseball c.1937 including Gehrig, DiMaggio, Dickey, Gomez and others.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Salvador Dali Original Drawing in <i>Dali</i> by David Larkin.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles Auctions: Rare Autographs, Sports, Books and Photography. January 23, 2020</b>
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Charles Wilson Peale, Association Miniature of Dr. Ebenezer Crosby after Charles Willson Peale. Gouache on ivory miniature attributed to Peale.
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> William McKinley Signed Oversize Photograph Incredible 20"x24".
    <b>One of a Kind Collectibles, Jan. 23:</b> Margaret Mitchell Signed <i>Gone With The Wind</i> -- First Edition.

Rare Book Monthly

Articles - September - 2013 Issue

End of a Love Affair: Art from the Collection of Mrs. T. S. Eliot to be Auctioned This Fall

Ts&valeliot

T. S. and Valerie Eliot (courtesy of Christie's).

A major art auction is scheduled for November 20 at Christie's in London, and while we normally don't write about art auctions, this one has a connection to books. The collection arose from the work of one of the most notable of 20th century poets, T. S. Eliot. The collection belonged to his wife, Valerie Fletcher Eliot, who died in November of last year.

 

Huh? His wife just died? Hasn't Eliot been dead forever? The answer is yes, he has. And, if this had been his first wife, she would have been 125. The sly “Old Possum” won the heart of a much younger lady late in his life. Actually, he didn't have to do much winning. His poetry did it for him, and she figuratively, if not literally, threw herself at his feet. Surprisingly enough, this was not a gold digger romance, but one of great love and devotion, the only unfortunate part being it couldn't last for long. And, while the second Mrs. Eliot became quite wealthy as a result, it was only because of an unexpected turn of events several years after he died.

 

T. S. (Tom) Eliot's life was complicated. He was a complex man. In other words, it wasn't all that happy. He married his first wife, Vivienne Haigh-Wood, in 1915, a few months after meeting her. They were both 27. He imagined she would fill some void in his life. He apparently had never had much of any relationships with women, so there was one role right there. She also was a vivacious, attractive woman with a large personality. That also filled a need since Eliot was more of a repressed, somewhat dull person. His personality was in his poems, not his persona.

 

Vivienne suffered from all sorts of illnesses, both physical and mental. The physical problems required much care, and “Tom” seems to have been fairly attendant to them through the first decade and a half of their marriage. However, he became increasingly disinterested and distant from her. The growing mental issues, which would result in her being institutionalized the last decade of her life, certainly didn't help. She became too much for him and he wanted separation. She, on the the hand, admired him, and wanted to take care of him, even if she was the one who more needed the care. It was a mess.

 

In 1927, Eliot, who was born a Unitarian, converted to the Anglican Church. This seems a bit odd under the circumstances. Though born in America, Eliot spent most of his adult life in England, and this would have been more suitable to the social circles in which he traveled. Nonetheless, membership in the Anglican Church made divorce much more difficult. Eliot quickly reached the point where he never wanted to see his wife again, so why he might have wanted to force himself to remain married to her is hard to figure. Perhaps it protected him from marriage to others. There were other women who wished to marry him, though again probably more for his poetry than his personality.

 

In 1932, he accepted a one-year appointment to teach at Harvard. He didn't take his wife. While away, he had his solicitors send her a letter stating he intended to separate. Tom was quite the romantic. When he returned, he did everything imaginable to avoid seeing her. He was quite successful at it. He hid where he lived and had his secretaries protect him where he worked. In the last 15 years of their marriage, she saw him only once, despite repeated attempts to reach him. That came at a lecture/book signing. She sneaked in. She spent the evening staring at him adoringly, and at the end, brought a couple of books to be signed before him and asked if he would come home with her. “I cannot talk to you now,” he replied. That was it, their only personal communication in the last 15 years of marriage. However, it should be noted that he did sign the books for her.

 

In fairness to Eliot, she was becoming more and more deranged and beyond his capacity to handle. In 1937, her brother had her committed to an asylum. The final act came after he had to retrieve her wandering the streets of London at 5:00 a.m. She was asking whether her husband had been beheaded. We know she wasn't thinking straight, for if she were, she would have known that the guillotine was a French thing. Vivienne remained in the institution until she died ten years later.

 

Having separated from his wife, Eliot became involved in two very long term relationships. One was with an American woman in whom he was interested before he was married, and was reportedly as dull as he. The other was a more interesting British woman. The relationships apparently were strictly platonic. Each of the women was highly desirous of marriage, the British one reportedly proposing to Eliot three times. He demurred. So, it was with great surprise that in 1957, he up and married Valerie Fletcher.

 

Valerie was terribly smitten with Eliot from afar, which was perhaps the only way to become smitten with him. She fell in love with his poetry and transferred those affections to him personally. Having heard his poetry as a school girl, she declared either that she would work for him or marry him (I have heard it described both ways). Whichever she said, it came to pass. In 1949, she got a job as his secretary at Faber and Faber, the publishing house where he had a day job through most of his career. In 1957, they married. Eliot was 68, Miss Fletcher 30. Rounding off, that's almost a 40 year age difference.

 

Surprisingly enough, it turned out to be a wonderful marriage. Eliot remained the poet in Valerie's eyes, not an old man in declining health. Valerie was the perfect homebody wife for the intensely private Eliot. She said they would stay home, make dinner, and play Scrabble. For Eliot, who had endured the public spectacle of his first wife's eccentricities, this was exactly what he wanted. Valerie later observed that he couldn't have died in peace without this marriage. The only shortcoming would be its inevitable brevity. Eliot died in 1965. They had 8 years of marriage, while Valerie had 47 years of widowhood. She devoted those 47 years to his memory.

 

She was in charge of his estate. Eliot wanted no biographies, so she cooperated with no biographers. She published his letters, of which there were many, slowly, some still not released. Her interest was in protecting his wishes and reputation, not enriching herself. She might never have had the money to amass this fine art collection but for a twist of fate. Valerie was approached for permission to use Eliot's atypical book, Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, a humorous book of verse about cats, for a musical play. She saw no harm to Eliot's reputation in this project. She consented. The book was the basis for Andrew Lloyd Webber's enormously successful play, Cats. It ran for 21 years in London, 18 on Broadway. It made an enormous amount of unexpected money for Valerie. Eliot's practical cats proved to be of unimaginable practical benefit to Eliot's wife. He undoubtedly would have been very pleased.

 

The collection will be auctioned at Christie's on November 20. The official title of the sale is A Life's Devotion: The Collection of the Late Mrs. T. S. Eliot. Mrs. Eliot collected British art, and the collection is likely to prove to be worth many millions of dollars. It includes over 200 portrait miniatures, an art form mostly supplanted by the development of photography. Some go back to the time of Queen Elizabeth I. There are also numerous watercolors, drawings and prints, including many 20th century works. One by Winston Churchill could bring close to $1/2 million.

 

Neither of the Eliots had children. Proceeds from the auction will go to fund Old Possum's Practical Trust, which Mrs. Eliot created in 1990. Its stated purpose is to “support literary, artistic, musical and theatrical projects and organisations.”

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> [Paine, Thomas]. Common Sense; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America… Philadelphia: R. Bell, 1776. $200,000 to $250,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Lincoln, Abraham. Autograph letter signed, to Joshua Reed Giddings, 21 May 1860. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Oakley, Annie. <i>A Brief Sketch of Her Career and Notes on Shooting.</i> [N.p.]: ca. 1913, Signed. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Washington, George. One autograph letter signed & 3 letters signed to General Alexander McDougall, September 1777. $70,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> Mather, Cotton. <i>The Wonders of the Invisible World. Being an account of the tryals of several witches...</i> London: 1693. $30,000 to $40,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, Jan. 27:</b> James, Benjamin.<i><br>A Treatise on the Management of the Teeth.</i> Boston, 1814. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Signed Abraham Lincoln Civil War era document appointing Green Clay of Kentucky as Secretary of the Legation of the United States at St. Petersburg, Russia, July 15, 1861. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Original Bambi (1942) animation cel, inscribed Walt Disney's Bambi and signed Walt Disney. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Original Snow White animation cel, with Walt Disney signature on mat, lower right. $3,000 to $3,500.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Civil Rights Era Archive relating to U.S. Deputy Marshal Dick Bagby (1933-2003) of Dallas, TX, including letters from President John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, U.S. Attorney General. $1,400 to $1,800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> President Andrew Jackson autograph letter, unsigned, regarding a special presentation cane sent via General John Moore McCalla to Gov. George Breathitt of Kentucky. January 18th, 1833. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Four (4) Presidential signed 17th/18th Century Books - two signed by Millard Fillmore, and two signed by James Buchanan. $1,000 to $1,200.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> President Andrew Jackson signed military commission document conferring on George Washington McLean the rank of Second Lieutenant of Marines. Signed January 4, 1834. $800 to $1,000.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Three (3) Southern Maps, including two (2) Antonio Zatta 1778, one (1) South Carolina 1796. $600 to $800.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Black Forest German Forestry Apprenticeship Certificate issued to Carl Heshel by Von Fahnenburg, the Forest Master from the Royal District, February 1, 1824. $500 to $550.
    <center><b>Case Antiques<br>Important Two-Day Winter Auction<br>January 25 & 26, 2020</b>
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Harper Lee, <i>TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,</i> signed 40th anniversary edition. NY: HarperCollins, 1999. $300 to $350.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Archive of twenty-five (25) items related to the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and President Lyndon Baines Johnson. $400 to $500.
    <b>Case Antiques, Jan. 25-26:</b> Sixteen (16) 20th Century Celebrity Autographed Books, including Paul Newman, A. E. Hotcher, Leonard Bernstein, Clint Eastwood, Norman Rockwell, Groucho Marx, Johnny Cash, and more. $300 to $350.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Emil Cardinaux, <i>Winter in der Schweiz,</i> 1921. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Evelyn Rumsey Carey, <i>Pan American Exposition / Niagara / Buffalo,</i> 1901. $7,000 to $10,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Arnost Hofbauer, <i>Topicuv Salon,</i> 1898. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Job,</i> 1896. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Georges de Feure, <i>Le Journal des Ventes,</i> 1898. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Alphonse Mucha, <i>Cycles Perfecta,</i> 1897. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Edward Penfield, <i>Orient Cycles / Lead the Leaders,</i> circa 1895. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Adrien Barrère, <i>L’Ideal du Touriste,</i> 1903. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Willem Frederick Ten Broek, <i>New York / Wereldtentoonselling / Holland – Amerika Lijn,</i> 1938. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Dwight Clark Shepler, <i>Sun Valley / Union Pacific.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Sascha Maurer, <i>Flexible Flyer Splitkein / Smuggler’s Notch,</i> circa 1935. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Feb 13:</b> Louis Bonhajo, <i>Vote / League of Women Voters,</i> 1920. $2,000 to $3,000.
  • <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>22nd January 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Astronomical manuscript.- Kalendarium cum Tabulis Astronomicis; and other astronomical texts, [?Northern Italy (possibly Verona or Bologna), c.1470]. £40,000 to £60,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Melville (Herman). <i>Moby-Dick; or The Whale,</i> first American edition, New York, 1851. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Malta.- Binding.- Sovereign Military Order of Malta.- <i>Gli Statuti della Sacra Religione di S. Gio: Gierosolomitano…</i> Rome, Giacomo Tornieri and Giacomo Ruffinello, 1589. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>22nd January 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Britain.- Jansson (Jan). <i>Novus atlas, sive theatrum orbis terrarum,</i> vol.4 only [Britain and Ireland], 56 double-page engraved maps, Amsterdam, 1659. £7,000 to £10,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Dodgson (Charles Lutwidge). <i>Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,</i> second (first published) edition, 1866; and 2 others from the series. £5,000 to £7,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Cervantès Saavedra (Miguel de). <i>Novelas Exemplares,</i> rare at auction, Milan, Giovanni Battista Bidelli, 1615. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Forum Auctions<br>Fine Books, Manuscripts<br>and Works on Paper<br>22nd January 2020</b>
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Tolkien (J.R.R.). Printed programme for the New College School, Oxford, production of The Hobbit, signed by Tolkien, 1967. £4,500 to £5,500.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Thucydides. <i>The hystory, writtone by Thucidides the Athenyan, of the warre, whiche was betwene the Peloponesians and the Athenyans,</i> first edition in English, 1550. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Wesley (John). Autograph Letter signed "My Dear Sister [?Mary Stokes], exhorting her to write more often and dealing with her problems, 1773. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Forum Auctions, Jan. 22:</b> Leaf from an illuminated book of hours with the Four Evangelists, illuminated by the workshop, or a close follower of the Maître de l'Échevinage. Northern France (possibly Rouen), c.1480. £2,000 to £3,000.

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions