This Thursday: Auction of Princess Alice’s “Alice”

Inscription reads: "Presented to H.R.H. the Princess Alice by the Author, Mar. 25, 1890."

Last week we blogged about an upcoming auction with an interesting lot: ceramic plaques, hand painted by Sir John Tenniel with characters from Alice’s adventures, used as menu cards at Tenniel family dinners.

We have just heard that the same auction contains another interesting item: a presentation copy of The Nursery Alice inscribed by Carroll for Princess Alice, the granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

The inscription, written in blue ink on the half-title, reads not “Alice, meet Alice,” unfortunately, but the rather more formal: “Presented to H.R.H. the Princess Alice by the Author, Mar. 25, 1890.”

On March 25, 1890, Princess Alice Mary Victoria Augusta Pauline was exactly seven years and one month old – just one month older than Carroll’s Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole. Was this a late birthday present perhaps?

The book will be auctioned by PBA Galleries this coming Thursday in San Francisco. It is estimated to go for between $8,000 and $12,000.


Tenniel family menu cards up for auction

Menu cards  (porcelain plaques), created by John Tenniel for family dinners, based on his illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice books, are up for auction at PBA Galleries (133 Kearny St, San Francisco) – low estimate $20k, high estimate $30k. The product description from their website:

Six small hand-painted porcelain plaques by John Tenniel, each with its own wrought-iron miniature easel. Each has a character from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass taking up about a quarter of the plaque, with the remainder blank, and “Menu” written at the top of each. The plaques measure 5×3½; the easels are about 7½” high.

Marvelous and unique group of original hand-painted plaques used as menu cards for the Tenniel family dinners, descended in the family over the years. The night’s fare was evidently written in the blank spaces with a crayon or grease pencil, then wiped off after the meal was completed. The characters pictured are The White Rabbit (with his pocket-watch), the Mock Turtle (crying away), the Frog Footman (delivering a letter), the Walrus (without the Oysters and the Carpenter), the Leg of Mutton (taking a bow), and a frog with a rake. The plaques have a small wooden case with a removable top, on which is a label with writing “China (Delicate)”. The case top has two sides missing, some other wear.

New Poppet Alice from Lisa Snellings

Artist Lisa Snellings makes Poppets. In her words, “They’re adorable… and sort of… creepy.” Last year she made an Alice in Wonderland series that ran to eight or ten pieces and it seems she may be starting 2010 with a similar project. Currently she is auctioning Alice and the Caterpillar on Ebay (auction closes January 6th) but the item descriptions suggest more Wonderland Poppets may be on their way.


Swann Galleries to auction "Portrait of Emily Cecilia Harrison"

On December 8th, Swann Galleries in New York will be auctioning Dodgson’s “Portrait of Emily Cecilia Harrison,” a 6.5 by 5 inch albumen print of Emily and her doll in a comfortable-looking chair. The sale is notable, first for its seriously fancy online “3D” catalogue, and secondly for a very exciting re-telling of Mr Dodgson’s biography:

Although best known for novels “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking-Glass,” he also invented croquet, billiards, various forms of chess, scrabble, ways to divide certain numbers and two different form of the Arabic zero.

The estimated sale price is $4,000 to $6,000. Perhaps it should be higher?


"The prettiest are always further": Treasure-trove of Carroll items to be auctioned December 16th

Yesterday the internet was thick with the news that Alice Liddell’s own copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass were be sold at auction. What few sites mentioned was that alongside these books, the auction house catalog is advertising a veritable who’s who, or what’s what, list of early Alice printed collectibles:

  • not one, but two editions of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, one of which is a first edition, presentation copy inscribed by the author to the mother of Edith Blakemore.
  • a first edition of The Nursery “Alice”, one of twelve specially bound as samples for the American market
  • a first edition of the Wonderland Postage Stamp Case, inscribed to “Miss Wordsworth [great niece of William Wordsworth], from the Inventor. May, 1891.” (A potential steal, listed at $1,000 -$1,500. Don’t you wish you had bought one for a shilling when you had the chance?)
  • An Easter Greeting to Every Child Who Loves “Alice”, inscribed to Edith Blakemore from Lewis Carroll. “Four-page pamphlet written on the celebration of Easter for young readers of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.”
  • and of course lot 28: “Through the Looking-Glass, First Edition, the Dedication Copy, presented to the original Alice by Lewis Carroll and signed by her …with misprint “wade” for “wabe” on page 21.”
  • an original ink drawing of Edith Blakemore by Dodgson, “in a bathing costume, holding a bucket and spade, leaning against the wheel of a bathing machine.”
  • a letter from Dodgson sending a specimen of his stamp case “…Would you kindly furnish me with the addresses of any Stationers (doing a good amount of business) to whom it would be worth my while to send a specimen-copy of my new Stamp-Case…?”
  • another first edition of Through the Looking-Glass, this one with two original pencil drawings by Tenniel on the half-title signed “Ever yours, JT”.
  • #743 of 1,500 copies of the 1932 Limited Editions Club print of Wonderland and Looking-Glass, signed “Alice Hargreaves”
  • Eight or Nine Wise Words about Letter-Writing, inscribed by Lewis Carroll to Alice Blakemore, the mother of one of his child-friends.
  • and finally, an original John Tenniel drawing of the sleeping Gryphon (list price $60,000-$80,000!)

The items are being auctioned by Profiles in History on December 16th, the same Hollywood memorabilia dealer selected to auction Michael Jackson’s be-gemed and illuminated glove. Full descriptions and images of all the Alice items can be viewed in a pdf of the catalog, available on their website.


Online Auction for 2015

Another fundraiser for the 2015 event is a weekly auction of very fun items donated by the family of the great Carrollian collector Carolyn Buck. Check it out, and keep checking back as new items will be added every week this fall.

Which reminds me, if you are interested in helping organize a fabulous event, send Joel Birenbaum an email. Every little bit helps!


Rackham Alice

Bloomsbury Auctions (London) is selling a beautiful Rackham Alice, signed by Rackham with a wonderful ink sketch of the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle. It is part of the “Books, Manuscripts, Prints, and Original Artwork” sale on July 9.


New Old Dodo Picture

In all the hubbub of newly released character and scenery pictures from Tim Burton’s Wonderland, only the Telegraph (U.K) has taken note of a previously undiscovered 17th century picture of a dodo. The picture is particularly important as it was drawn before the bird became extinct, although it is uncertain whether it was drawn from life. The picture is to be sold at auction by Christie’s on July 9.


Bloomsbury Auction

Bloomsbury Auctions’ Literature, Manuscripts and Modern First Editions sale on April 23 has quite a few Carrollian items: Lots 333, 772, 856, 1097, 1099, 1104, 1162, 1227, 1301, 1408, and 1409 include modern limited editions signed by illustrators such as John Vernon Lord and presentation copies of Euclid and His Modern Rivals and The Game of Logic.


Photos at auction

auction house in London has 15 Carrollian items – photographs, two letters, and a first edition of Through the Looking-Glass (Lots 135 to 150) – included in Sale 16761 – Printed Books, Manuscripts, Music & Photographs on March 24.