James Joyce rare books and memorabilia

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2015-06-26 11:06:03

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James Joyce rare books and memorabilia

James Joyce rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to Modernist Irish novelist and poet James Joyce (1882-1941).

Brief History/biography

James Joyce was one of the most influential Modernist writers in the avant-garde and stream-of-consciousness styles. He is best known for his novel Ulysses (1922), his short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), and Finnegans Wake (1939), his last novel taking sixteen years to write, of which only 3,400 copies were printed, 950 of those destroyed.

Types of rare books and memorabilia

Books

Bloomsbury Auctions

  • Ulysses first edition (1922), one of 150 copies, sold for $20,000 in June 2008.
  • Ulysses (1935) illustrated and signed by both Henri Matisse and James Joyce, limited edition, sold for $14,000 in March 2010, and £18,000 in June 2008.
  • Ulysses first printing in England (1936), signed by the author, sold for £11,000 in May 2011.
  • Dubliners first edition (1914), sold for £3,800 in March 2006, and $6,500 in March 2010.
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man first edition (1916), sold for $2,500 in November 2009.

Bonhams

  • Ulysses, first English edition (1936), signed by the author, sold for £12,547 in May 2004 and £22,800 in June 2010.
  • Ulysses, first edition (1922), sold for $24,000 in October 2007.

Christie’s

  • Ulysses first edition (1922), inscribed by Joyce, with dust-jacket, sold for $460,500 in October 2002.
  • Dubliners first edition (1914), sold for $262,500 in October 2002.
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), inscribed by Joyce, sold for $89,625 in October 2002.

Sothebys

  • Ulysses first edition (1922), sold for £112,000 in July 2004, and $288,000 in April 2004.
  • Dubliners first edition (1914), presentation copy inscribed by Joyce, sold for £84,000 in December 2006.
  • Finnegans Wake first edition (1939), sold for $18,000 in November 2004.
  • Pomes Penyeach first edition (1927), inscribed by Joyce, sold for £6,250 in October 2010.

Documents, Autographs and Photographs

Bonhams

  • Autograph letter signed by Joyce, sold for £33,600 in March 2011.
  • Autograph postcard signed by Joyce, sold for £12,500 in November 2011.

Christie’s

  • Autograph manuscript of the ‘Circe’ episode of Ulysses with annotations by Joyce, sold for $1,546,000 in December 2000.

Sothebys

  • Erotic autograph love letter signed by Joyce, sold for £240,800 in July 2004.
  • Intimate playful love letter signed by Joyce, sold for £84,000 in July 2004.
  • Joyce’s wartime family passport issued in 1915, sold for £61,250 in July 2011.
  • A Bronze Medal awarded to Joyce in 1904 at a singing competition. Sold for £14,400 in July 2004.
  • Autograph letter signed to Ford Madox Ford, sold for £12,500 in July 2011.

Guide for collectors

As many of Joyce’s works were considered blasphemous, controversial and banned, numerous first edition copies were lost or destroyed, making the surviving ones that much more valuable.

Dubliners (1914) received a initial hardcover printing of less than 1000 copies, making it very scarce and very valuable.

Joyce is seen as a significant figure of both Modernism and Irish literary history, and as such is hugely collectible under the headings of Irish interest and the history of modernism. Therefore items relating to himself and his life are very sought-after, particularly the poetic, erotic love letters he sent.

Likewise, copies of his works can skyrocket in value if signed by him. In particular a limited edition of Ulysses, illustrated by Matisse and signed by them both, is very valuable.

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