Leo Tolstoy rare books and memorabilia

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2015-06-26 11:09:01

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Leo Tolstoy rare books and memorabilia

Leo Tolstoy rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to Russian writer Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910).

Brief History/biography

Tolstoy is possibly one of the most famous writers, thinkers, and social reformers in the world. He is best known for what are generally considered two of the greatest novels in history, War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (first published in instalments between 1873 and 1877 in the periodical The Russian Messenger). He is also a figure of great moral and political import, in Russia and world-wide, for his ideas of anarchic-pacifism and non-violent resistance. Born to a respected Russian family of old nobility, his experience in the army in the 1850s-60s and his friendship with Victor Hugo were what largely shaped his ideals and his writing. He was admired by and influential to such literary greats as Dostoyevsky, Gustave Flaubert, and Anton Chekhov, as well as Virginia Woolf and James Joyce. Another notable work is The Confession, a short essay on religion, philosophy, and melancholia. It was attempted to be published in 1882 but Tolstoy’s work was removed from the publication due to censorship. It was therefore first published in Geneva in 1884, and in Russia in 1906.

Types of rare books and memorabilia

Books

Bloomsbury Auctions

  • Anna Karenina (1878), first complete edition, sold for £7,400 in May 2010.
  • Sochineniya Grafa L. N. Tolstogo (Collected Works of Count L. N. Tolstoy), (1891), volume 1, 9th edition, presentation copy to Tolstoy’s doctor. Sold for $8,500 in May 2008.
  • Plody Prosvescheniya. Komediya (The Fruits of Culture. Comedy in 4 acts) (1891), presentation copy of this rare play, sold for $6,000 in December 2008.
  • War and Peace (1886) first English edition, sold for £2,600 in May 2010.

Christie’s

  • Voina I Mir (War and Peace) (1868-9), first edition, sold for £11,875 in November 2007.
  • Voina I Mir (War and Peace) (1868-9), first edition, sold for $9,400 in April 2001.

Sothebys

  • Voina I Mir (War and Peace) (1868-9), first edition, sold for $27,000 in June 2005.
  • War and Peace (1886), first English edition, sold for £11,400 in December 2006.

Documents, Autographs and Photographs

Bonhams

  • Cabinet portrait photograph of Tolstoy, signed and dated by Tolstoy 1901, sold for £3,500 in November 2011.
  • Portrait of Tolstoy on a silver medallion by Lev Sinayeff Berstein, 1911, sold for £1,320 in March 2011.

Christie’s

  • Bust of Tolstoy by Paul Petrovich Trubetskoi, sold for $96,000 in April 2006.
  • Painting of Tolstoy in the Zakez forest by Ivan Pokhitonov, sold for £43,250 in November 2011.
  • Portrait painting of Tolstoy by Il’ia Efimovich Repin, 1909, sold for £19,700 in September 2007.
  • Handwritten letter signed by Tolstoy, 1894, sold for £10,200 in July 2007.
  • Photograph of Tolstoy signed and inscribed, 1894, sold for $9,600 in June 2007.

Sothebys

  • Tolstoy at Home by Leonid Pasternak, sold for £74,400 in June 2007.
  • Handwritten letter signed by Tolstoy, 1908, sold for $18,000 in December 2006.
  • Set of twenty-five stereographic photographs of Tolstoy, 1908, sold for £8,125 in November 2007.
  • Handwritten letter signed by Tolstoy about God, death, and the circle of reading. Sold for £6,250 in December 2009.

Guide for collectors

Tolstoy’s great works, War and Peace and Anna Karenina are the most eminently collectible, because collectors consider them great novels that must be included in any respectable book collection. It is extremely rare to see the first publications of Anna Karenina, as they were presented in the periodical The Russian Messenger. More common is to see the first complete published edition of 1878. First English translations as well as first Russian editions can be valuable. However, it is worth seeking out rarer works, especially signed items, as these are of significant worth.

Tolstoy was such an important figure in literature, politically, philosophically and spiritually, to Russia and world-wide. Signed photographs, artwork representing Tolstoy, and letters from him are extremely valuable to people.

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