John Keats rare books and memorabilia

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2015-06-26 11:06:46

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John Keats rare books and memorabilia

John Keats rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to English Romantic poet John Keats (1795-1821).

Brief History/biography

John Keats is a favourite of all English poets, his works some of the most popular in the English language. Along with his friends and contemporaries Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, he was one of the most significant Romantic poets. His work was not popular during his lifetime, and in fact many believed the harsh responses of the critics were to blame for hastening his untimely death at the age of 25, but today his poetry is loved by millions. His reputation rests largely on the Odes. His letters were first published in 1848 and 1878, and are today almost as highly regarded as his poetry, being richly humorous, intellectual and descriptive.

Types of rare books and memorabilia

Books

Bonhams

  • Endymion (1818) first edition, sold for £4,080 in November 2009.
  • Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and Other Poems (1820) first edition, sold for £2,400 in December 2008.

Christie’s

  • Poems (1817), first edition, sold for £28,680 in June 2004.
  • Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems (1820) first edition, sold for £16,730 in June 2004.
  • Endymion (1818), first edition, sold for £6,573 in June 2004.

Sothebys

  • Poems (1817), first edition, sold for £20,000 in July 2008, and £27,500 in October 2010.
  • Endymion (1818), first edition, sold for £8,125 in July 2008.
  • Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems (1820) first edition, sold for £9,600 in June 2006.

Documents, Autographs and other items

Bonhams

  • Autograph letter to lover Fanny Brawne, sold for £96,000 in March 2011.

Christie’s

  • Autograph manuscript of the poem ‘Top Hope’, 1815, sold for $149,000 in October 2001.
  • Autograph letter to his brothers dated 1818, sold for $79,500 in May 1996.
  • John Keats’ Death Mask, sold for £16,100 in November 1996.

Guide for collectors

Keats’ works, being classics of English literature, are often chosen as projects for a beautiful binding or to showcase an illustrator. So, while early editions of the works will be extremely valuable, often a much later copy possessing one or more of these other attractive attributes will also be particularly sought-after. Keat’s letters are as highly regarded as his poetry, and therefore the original copies are very collectible.

His works are often sold together with those of his friends and contemporaries, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron, as representative of a literary era.

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