10 pieces of Jane Austen memorabilia to make you swoon (or maybe just flutter your fan a little faster)
Read the books? Enjoyed the screen adaptations? Take your passion for Jane Austen to the next level. Start collecting.
Here are 10 pieces of Jane Austen memorabilia from recent auctions or exhibitions to whet your appetite.
As well as belonging to Jane Austen, this ring was briefly owned by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.
Image: Jane Austen House Museum
Like all Americans, Kelly Clarkson adores Jane Austen. She is a passionate collector of Austen memorabilia and reportedly owned a replica of the ring already.
So when the real thing came up for sale, she had to have it.
Clarkson bought it at auction for £152,450 ($230,000). But the story doesn't end there. Because the British government slapped an export ban on it (it does this occasionally for pieces it deems important national treasures). So when Jane Austen’s House Museum in Hampshire, UK raised the funds to match Clarkson's bid - she had to let it go.
Clarkson was said to be "happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see" the piece. Possibly through gritted teeth.
As she almost sang: "My life will suck without you."
Cup and ball
As a child Jane was apparently extremely good at "the cup and ball game" – also known as bilbocatch.
Her nephew later gushed in a biography: "Jane Austen was successful in everything that she attempted with her fingers…
"Her performances with cup and ball were marvellous.
"The one used at Chawton was an easy one, and she has been known to catch it on the point above an hundred times in succession, till her hand was weary."
Her childhood cup and ball came up for auction in December 2016 but failed to sell. Keep an eye out, it's sure to come around again soon.
This Jacobean fireplace stood in Jane Austen’s home in Steventon, Oxfordshire, where she lived for the first 25 years of her life.
Image: MG Neely Auctions
She would have sat around this very fireplace, perhaps looking into the flames and dreaming up stories. Perhaps.
It made $400 at MG Neely Auction on 2012.
In 2014 a letter featuring Jane Austen’s first reference to Pride and Prejudice (originally titled First Impressions) went on display at Torquay Museum in Devon, UK.
Image: Torquay Museum
She writes to her older sister, Cassandra, in 1799: “I do not wonder at your wanting to read first impressions again, so seldom as you have gone through it, & that so long ago.”
Austen passed the book around among friends and family for years before it was published. It would be another 14 years before the novel finally reached bookshops.
The museum was hoping to sell it for £200,000 ($248,069).
Emma (first edition)
Emma - the tale of one self-woman's delusion - is, in this writer's opinion, Austen's greatest work.
This rare first edition copy is inscribed to Austen’s governess, Anne Sharp. It achieved £180,000 ($224,761) at Bonhams in 2008 – a record for a first edition of the book.
The Watsons manuscript
The Watsons was one of several novels Jane Austen left unfinished when she died.
But never fear, because the world is not short of writers with the necessary arrogance to finish off the work, including her great-great niece Edith Brown.
There is only one known surviving draft of Austen's five chapters, which had lain dormant for 12 years before her death in 1817. It auctioned in 2011 for £1m ($1.5m).
While Austen abandoned The Watsons in around 1805, Sanditon was the novel she was working on when she died.
This continuation of the novel by one of her nieces, Anna Lefroy, sold for £12,500 ($15,841) at Sotheby’s in 2016. Anna herself gave up on the project and her version has never been published – although others have.
This 1869 miniature by portraitist James Andrews is one of the best known images of Jane Austen.
Despite this, it wasn’t drawn from life. Instead it was based on an 1810 sketch by Austen’s sister, Cassandra.
Andrews' image appears on the new plastic £10 notes the Bank of England is issuing in September 2017, meaning it’s about to become one of the most widely seen portraits in the UK.
The move has not been without controversy - with some critics complaining Andrews "airbrushed" Austen's thin lips and cirlces under her eyes to make her look prettier.
It realised £164,500 ($270,228) at Sotheby’s in 2013.
Thin lips and tired eyes - sister Cassandra's original. Image: Wikimedia Commons
Pride and Prejudice (first edition)
Pride and Prejudice was a massive hit when it was published in 1813.
Austen wrote the book between 1796 and 1797, when she was still a teenager, but was unable to get publishers interested. She reworked it in 1811 and 1812 and sent it off again. This time she was successful.
This rare first edition copy sold for $68,500 at Christie’s in 2012.
Like all her novels, Austen did not put her name to the work. "By a lady" was all anyone knew. Her brother spilled the beans after her death.
While she occasionally inscribed books to friends or family, Austen’s signature remains extremely rare.
This example was clipped from the flyleaf of a book and dates to around 1811 – just a year after Cassandra Austen produced her famous sketch of her sister.
It realised $23,750 ($29,503) at Bonhams in 2014.
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