Rare signed George Orwell book fetches £86,000
A rare signed first edition of the first full-length work by author George Orwell has sold for £86,000, auctioneers said today.
The immaculate copy of Down And Out In Paris And London was bought by a private client at Gorringes Auction House in Lewes, East Sussex, yesterday.
The book, complete with a near-perfect dust jacket, was sold by a private Sussex-based collector and had a guide price of between £2,500 and £3,500.
Inside the book, Orwell - whose real name was Eric Blair - wrote to his agent Leonard Moore: "With the author's kind regards, to Mr LP Moore without whose kind assistance this book would never have been published. Eric Blair, 24.12.32."
Gorringes book specialist Aaron Dean said he was trying to find out whether the sale, which with buyer's premium included totalled £101,050, sets a new record.
Mr Dean said today: "I would be shocked if it isn't a record. The two things that were rare about this were that it was personally inscribed by the author with a nice little ditty.
"Secondly, it had its dust jacket. No first editions of this book with dust jackets have been seen for 27 years.
"To put the significance of that in perspective, last year a copy which was not in great condition and didn't have a dust jacket sold for £13,200.
"This one was an absolutely brilliant copy. The dust jacket had a little bit of wear and tear but, when you took it off, the book was in mint condition."
Mr Dean said there was strong bidding, with 10 people on the telephone.
"They all fought it out and in the end a chap at the back of the room bought it," he said.
"I opened the bidding at £5,000 and someone immediately jumped in to take it to £15,000 and from there it bounced up to £86,000.
"I knew it would do well, I had a lot people who were hugely interested in it and the consensus was that it would reach somewhere between £30,000 and £40,000.
"But I wasn't expecting that price. I was absolutely stunned, the room was absolutely stunned and the vendors, who were in the room, were thoroughly happy."
Published in January 1933 by Victor Gollancz, Down And Out In Paris And London is an autobiographical work by Orwell, split into two parts, on the theme of poverty in the two capital cities.
It was initially rejected by two major publishers, with TS Eliot dismissing it when he worked for Faber and Faber as a book that "does not appear to me possible as a publishing venture".
However, Orwell's agent later announced that Gollancz would publish the work provided Orwell edited out some details, including bad language.
The Indian-born author, who died in 1950, went on to write two of the 20th century's most famous novels, Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Mr Dean said: "It was a superb afternoon and one that I don't think will be repeated for an Orwell book for some time to come."
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