Rare tiny Brontë book could set $1.25m sale record

By Bernd Debusmann Jr
BBC News

Published
Image source, Empics
Image caption,
A 1555 guide to tennis is among the items on sale at the fair

A tiny book created by Charlotte Brontë worth $1.25m (£957,393) is among the items for sale at what is being billed the "world's finest antiquarian book fair".

Also on offer are a guide to tennis published in 1555, handwritten notes from the world's first atom bomb test and Amy Winehouse's library.

The four-day fair in New York is expected to fetch fortunes for dealers.

Booksellers say sales have spiked in recent years.

The 2022 New York International Antiquarian Book Fair is the 61st edition of the event, which is being held at the Park Avenue Armory in Manhattan.

Ahead of the event, much of the buzz has centred around a recently rediscovered miniature book written by English novelist and poet Charlotte Brontë when she was just 13 in 1829. The event will mark the first time the book is unveiled publicly since a 1916 auction.

Owning a piece of history, however, isn't cheap. The book's seller is asking for $1.25m (£957,393), believed to be the highest ever for a female author. The previous record was set just last year when a first edition of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' sold for $1.17m in September.

Brontë's book is far from the only eye-catching item.

A collection of wine books dating as far back as the 1500s put together by wine maker Sean Thackrey, for example, is going on sale for $2m, while a set of 800 books and manuscripts detailing hundreds of years of environmental and climate studies listed for $2.5m.

A book believed to be the world's first guide to tennis written by an Italian priest in 1555 ($45,000) and a rare early edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' priced at approximately $360,000 will also be on offer.

The more contemporary collections on sale include a set of diagrams and notes from a medical group participating in the world's first atomic bomb tests in 1945 - including the first mention of a "mushroom cloud" - and a collection of over 200 books once owned by the late British singer Amy Winehouse.

The fair is being held between 21 April and 24 April.

Even as retail sales struggled throughout the first two years of the pandemic, book sales have spiked, with the Association of American publishers reporting that 172 new independent bookstores opened in the US 2021 alone.