A first edition Charles Dickens novel graces Australian auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 18th May, 2022

Auctioneer Hannah Clayton Atkin couldn’t believe her eyes when she spotted a first edition copy of famous 19th century English author Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Hard Times’ among a box of old items from a deceased estate. 

Part of the library collection of noted bibliophile Frederick Perkins (1780-1860) who lived at the now demolished Chipstead Place in Kent, the book was published in 1854 by Bradbury and Evans in London. 

His son George inherited the library, which included significant Shakespeare quartos and portfolios, and after his death it was sold on July 10, 1889 by Sotheby, Wilkinson and Hodge. 

The first edition copy will be part of a timed online Swan Deverell Auctioneers director’s selection sale which opens at 7am on Wednesday June 1 and closes from 6pm the following Wednesday at 12A/172-176 The Entrance Road, Erina, on the central New South Wales coast. 

Live viewing will be available from 9am-5pm Saturday June 4 and 10am-4pm Sunday June 5 to Wednesday June 8.

The auction house was established in October 2021 by Hannah who has more than 20 years’ experience in the arts and auction industry in Britain and Australia that includes time spent in galleries and museums as well as valuations and auctioning.

Hard Times is not the only historical item in the auction. Among several old beer steins is a Westerwald stoneware version with a cobalt glazed bird image that dates from 1750 – of which there are similar examples in the British and Metropolitan Museums.

Another fascinating item in this boutique sale of 35 items is a set of 1890s hand carved bone and ebony dominoes in their original wooden box – and an 1872 sterling silver mounted horn beaker hallmarked by London manufacturer Chawner & Co. 

The auction also contains a pair of whale teeth, one of which has a scrimshaw carving by Gary Tonkin of Albany, Western Australia, and a pair of cameo carved conch shells depicting Hebe, cup bearer to the gods, and St George and the dragon. 

Prior to the director’s selection sale is an Antiques & Estates auction (Saturday May 21 Sunday June 5) and an Australian & International Art auction that finishes from 6pm Sunday May 22.

Among the varied catalogue of antiques, collectables and estate items is a Pukeberg Swedish art glass koala paperweight, French tapestry wall hangings and a 19th century Bristol blue glass bowl.

The art sale contains contemporary and historic artworks and decorative prints including a Joan Miro (1893-1983) limited edition signed lithograph, two special edition sculptures by Gillie and Marc 

Schattner and four early William Hogarth engravings dating from 1806-1808.

Initially training as a silversmith, just before 1720 Hogarth switched to the commercial engraving of copper plates through which he achieved immediate success as an artist.

Many of his famous works are based on the trials and tribulations of his early life. 



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