Henry James rare books and memorabilia
Henry James rare books and memorabilia are collectible items relating to literary –realist writer Henry James (1843-1916).
Henry James lived between American and Europe for the first part of his life, eventually settling in Britain. He is noted for his trans-Atlantic works depicting the clashing of American and European cultures and mentalities. He used first person narration, including interior monologue and potential unreliability, allowing him to explore consciousness and perception. He was also a great literary critic. He was very prolific as a writer, and as well as fiction, published articles, travel works, biographies and plays. His major early works include Roderick Hudson (1875), The American (1877), Washington Square (1880), and The Portrait of a Lady, first published as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly and Macmillan’s Magazine in 1880-81, and as a book in 1881.
Types of rare books and memorabilia
- The Novels and Tales (1907-1818), 26 volumes, sold for £8,500 in November 2007.
- The Portrait of a Lady (1881), first edition, sold for £3,400 in February 2007.
- A Small Boy and Others (1913), first English edition, signed presentation copy, sold for £3,200 in February 2007.
- Washington Square (1881), first English edition, sold for £2,600 in February 2007.
- The Aspern Papers, Louis Pallant, The Modern Warning (1889) first edition, sold for £1,900 in February 2007.
- The Princess Casamassima (1886), first edition, sold for $4,500 in October 2007.
- The Bostonians (1886), first edition, sold for $2,350 in November 2004.
- The Portrait of a Lady (1881), first edition in book form, sold for $21,600 in June 2007.
- The Ambassadors (1903), first edition, signed presentation copy, sold for £7,800 in June 2005.
- Roderick Hudson (1876) first edition, signed presentation copy, sold for $9,560 in October 2002.
- English Hours (1905), first American edition, signed presentation copy, sold for £4,320 in June 2005.
- The American Scene (1907), first edition, signed presentation copy, sold for £3,120 in June 2005.
- The Novels and Tales (1922), 26 volumes, second New York edition, sold for £3,125 in June 2011.
- Transatlantic Sketches (1875), first edition, signed presentation copy, sold for $5,019 in April 2003.
Documents, Autographs and Photographs
- Long unpublished handwritten letter signed, sold for £3,840 in March 2011.
- Rare large Wucai Fish Jar, once owned by Henry James, sold for $242,500 in March 2009.
- Sixteen handwritten letters signed, sold for £5,750 in November 1999.
Guide for collectors
Henry James had an interest in collecting himself. It became a popular practice among the consumers of the late 19th century, and became a definition for people’s appreciation of art. It also shaped the notions of aestheticism and naturalism in literature. Henry James had mixed views upon this, as can be understood from the book Collecting and Appreciating: Henry James and the transformation of aesthetics in the age of consumption by Simone Francescato. However, Henry James did himself possess a great number of items which now sell for large amounts due to having his name to their provenance.
There is great interest in James as a trans-Atlantic writer, his works very popular with Americans and Brits alike. His signature in inscribed presentation copies make first editions a great deal more valuable. Many of these copies are inscribed to Ford Maddox Hueffer.
It is important to note whether a copy is the first English edition, or the first American edition, and to ascertain which of these is the first true edition in each case.
As such a prolific writer, Henry James is brilliant as a project for a collector. His collected works are often sold in huge elegantly bound sets of upwards of 20 volumes, collected often in this form by private libraries.