Today, in a packed saleroom at Sothebys
London, the earliest rules of club football - sold as part of the historic archive of the worlds oldest football club, Sheffield - fetched £881,250 /$1,420,663 /998,807 (pre-sale estimate £800,000-1,200,000).This extraordinary and unique piece of sporting history, which represents a crucial step towards the evolution of the modern game of association football, was bought by an anonymous telephone bidder. The archive includes the earliest set of rules ever likely to come to the market - both the original handwritten draft rules (1858) and the only known surviving copy of the printed Rules, Regulations, & Laws of the Sheffield Foot-Ball Club (1859).
Chairman of Sheffield Football Club, Richard Tims, commented: In the run up to Sothebys sale of Sheffield FCs archive there was huge international interest, reflecting the truly global appeal of both the game itself and its remarkable evolution. We are delighted with the sale of this extraordinary piece of sporting history, the proceeds of which will allow Sheffield Football Club to develop its facilities and secure its future as the home of grass-roots football.
Also sold this morning in Sothebys sale of English Literature & History was the earliest surviving manuscript for a novel by Jane Austen The Watsons which sold for £993,250 /$1,601,218 /1,125,748, triple its pre-sale high estimate of £200,000-300,000 following extended bidding between four bidders. The most important Jane Austen item to come to the market in over 20 years was bought by an anonymous bidder in the room to a round of applause.
Gabriel Heaton, Sothebys Senior Specialist, Books & Manuscripts Department, commented, We are thrilled by the sale of the earliest surviving manuscript for a novel by Jane Austen today. In the weeks before the sale we have been reminded of the remarkably international appeal of Austen, one of Britain s greatest authors. The sale of The Watsons has afforded an extremely broad audience an insight into the authors writing process and reworkings, which this manuscript uniquely displays.
Probably written in 1804, this heavily corrected draft represents the earliest surviving manuscript for a novel by Jane Austen. The work, which was not published during her lifetime and remains incomplete, provides a fascinating insight into both her writing practices and her development into one of Britain s greatest authors. It affords the reader an unparalleled glimpse into the very act of creation, with all the hesitations and explorations of the authors mind laid bare. None of the manuscripts of Jane Austens completed novels survive, with the exception of two draft chapters of Persuasion (at the British Library), Austens juvenile work Lady Susan (at the Pierpont Morgan Library, New York) and the fragment Sanditon (at Kings College, Cambridge), the only other autograph novel manuscript of comparable length.