Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS


Support ANTIQUES ROADSHOW by supporting public television! Give Today
  • SHOP
  • Appraisals

    1861 Charles Dickens Letter to Lady Spencer

    Appraised Value:


    Appraised on: June 17, 2006

    Appraised in: Tucson, Arizona

    Appraised by: Joyce Kosofsky

    Category: Books & Manuscripts

    Episode Info: Tucson, Hour 1 (#1107)

    Originally Aired: February 12, 2007

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Letter, Autograph
    Material: Paper
    Period / Style: 19th Century
    Value Range: $3,000

    Related Links:

    Understanding Our Appraisals
    Useful tips to keep in mind when watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW


    Appraisal Video: (2:44)


    Appraised By:

    Joyce Kosofsky
    Books & Manuscripts

    Brattle Book Shop

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: This is a letter that was written by Charles Dickens to Lady Spencer, and my mom bought it for my father as an anniversary present. He always bought beautiful things for her and this particular year, she wanted to be the one to buy the present and... she did. He was an avid Dickens reader, and it was just the perfect present for him.

    APPRAISER: Well, we see right here it says, "Mr. Charles Dickens presents his compliments to Lady Spencer, and begs to say that he has just heard from Mrs. Watson that possibly he can have the pleasure of assisting Lady Spencer to obtain some good position at his readings. If Lady Spencer will have the kindness to let Mr. Dickens know what her wishes are, he will immediately instruct his secretary to do the best he can to advance them. There is great pressure on the room, however, and Mr. Dickens regrets that he did not hear sooner from their friend Mrs. Watson. Bedford Hotel, Brighton, Friday eighth November, 1861." At the time, Charles Dickens' readings were like going to a Bruce Springsteen concert. He was the rock star of readers. Getting a ticket to his readings wasn't an easy thing. So, Lady Spencer, she's asking for a favor, and he's saying, "Well, maybe if you had contacted me sooner, but I'll see what I can do." It's a nice content letter. It's kind of snubbing Lady Spencer, without saying, "Gee, you should have done your homework and asked me sooner." We see a lot of Charles Dickens' letters. He was prolific, and what I really do love about this is the content. The signature part is up here in the first line. It's a third person type of signature, as opposed to "dear" and then having the large signature that we know and can appreciate at the end. I wouldn't have a problem of marking it $3,000.

    GUEST: Wow.

    APPRAISER: Now, the large signature that we know about Charles Dickens, where he's got the scrawls underneath it, if it had that kind of a signature, I would up it to maybe $4,000 to $4,500.

    GUEST: Can you tell me if the Lady Spencer that he was writing to is related to Lady Diana Spencer, Princess Diana?

    APPRAISER: I really don't know, because we don't know which Lady Spencer this is.

    GUEST: Thank you.

    WGBH This website is produced for PBS Online by WGBH Boston. ©1997-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a trademark of the BBC and is produced for PBS by WGBH under license from BBC Worldwide.
    WGBH and PBS are not responsible for the content of websites linked to or from ANTIQUES ROADSHOW Online.
    PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    ROADSHOW on Facebook ROADSHOW Tweets ROADSHOW on YouTube