13 February 2011

Plath items at Bonhams

The two Sylvia Plath items that were up for auction today at Bonhams of San Francisco met with mixed results.

Estimated to sell for between $15,000-$20.000. Lot 2211, the November 23, 1959 typed letter signed, which included her poem "Lament" failed to sell.

Estimated to sell for between $1,500-$2,000, Lot 2212, a price-clipped copy of a Victoria Lucas The Bell Jar sold for $2,074, also inclusive of the buyers premium.

Time will tell if the letter eventually sells. If The Bell Jar sold to a dealer it may come back on the market, expect a significant mark-up in price.

2 comments :

panther said...

I'm surprised. I would have thought the letter would definitely sell, the Bell Jar maybe not. Admittedly, the letter doesn't contain any major revelations, or a version of a major poem, but still. . .it is a direct link with its writer.

Would it have been valued more highly, and been more likely to sell,Peter, if it had been handwritten ? Or addressed to someone we know in the Plath story ?

Peter K Steinberg said...

Panther, yes I think it would be valued much more highly had the entire letter been autographed. However, the letter does have her signature, which I think is the reason for such a high estimate. Her signature is so rare in the open market...I think of that poem by Frieda Hughes, perhaps even titled "Signature," in which Ted Hughes was dividing his library (which included some of Plath's books) and in some of the books a rectangular cut where a greedy fan removed Plath's owners inscription. (See, for example and example, "In her hand" on Laurie's excellent blog.)

I think an example of Plath's responding to a fan letter, also, is quite rare: as are the existence of fan letters written to Plath during her lifetime; very few and far between.

Overall, I'm just really surprised it didn't sell.

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