Last week, at Doyle in New York, a book from the library of Charles Ricketts was auctioned: a dedication copy of George Bernard Shaw's book with three plays Androcles and the Lion, Overruled, Pygmalion (1916). The dedication wasn't grand or eloquent. It was a simple autograph inscription:
To Charles Ricketts
from Bernard Shaw
14th July 1916
Bernard Shaw, dedication to Charles Ricketts (1916)
The estimate was a mere $300 to $500.
However, there was provenance to be considered. Ricketts hadn't been the only owner of the book, it was passed on to the collection of William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), the newspaper giant who became the inspiration for the 1941 movie Citizen Cane. During the 1930s he struggled to avoid bankruptcy, sold his animals, tapestries, paintings, and other collectables, including his books. The Shaw copy was sold in 1939 through the Parke Bernet sale of 22 November (lot 478).
Later, the book belonged to Nancy Susan Reynolds (1910-1985). Her father owned R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. She was an editor of Washington Life magazine, and a philanthropist. Her books come on the market from time to time.
Anyway, the book was sold for the astonishing sum of $2250.