Thursday, July 05, 2007

Letter Collection Exceeds Expectations at Auction

On Tuesday, Christie's in London sold an extraordinary collection of autograph letters accumulated by Swiss banker Albin Schram over the last thirty years, The Times reports. The collection had been housed "in a filing cabinet wedged between the washing machine and tumble dryer in the basement of his home in Lausanne. Schram’s family did not know of the collection's existence until after his death" two years ago.

Schram's first purchase, a love letter from Napoleon to Josephine during their engagement (one of just three known to exist from that period) sold for £276,000 (more than five times the presale high-end estimate), setting a new world record for a Napoleon letter, the paper notes.

Other highlights from the sale, which passed the the £2 million estimate halfway through, included a consolation letter from John Donne to Lady Kingsmill on the death of her husband. The only Donne manuscript or letter to be sold at auction since 1970, according to Christie's, this sole for £114,000. A letter from famous English diarist John Evelyn to even-more-famous English diarist Samuel Pepys (dated 14 January 1698/9) sold for £10,200.

The catalogue for this sale would certainly make for some interesting browsing.

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