”The Recess“ by Sophia Lee, 1783-1785

Value (2008) | $2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction

WOMAN: I brought three books which I bought in England, in Bath, England, we call it. The Brits, of course, would call it "Baath." My husband and I, about 25 years ago, were wandering around the town, and there was a little... wonderful little antique bookstore, and I've never passed up a bookstore in my life, so we went in and we found these three books.

APPRAISER:
Little souvenir?

GUEST:
Yeah, to take home to my mother, who loved English history.

APPRAISER:
The story... they take place about the time of the Reformation.

GUEST:
Yeah.

APPRAISER:
I think they're printed about 1783, if I looked correctly.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
The author does not appear on the title page. It's an authoress, and her name was Sophia Lee.

GUEST:
Really?

APPRAISER:
And she preceded Ann Radcliffe...

GUEST:
Is that right?

APPRAISER:
and Sir Walter Scott and had an influence on them. And this was one of her really great works, one of her most notable works. She was a playwright, and she wrote a play that was very successful and made some money from that and she put it into a school in Bath. And she ended up moving there with her sisters when her father died, and lived in Bath. So it's very appropriate that you happened to be wandering the stores in Bath...

GUEST:
How fun!

APPRAISER:
and running into one of the great authors of that town. Do you recall what you paid at the time?

GUEST:
£22; at the time it was close to $40.

APPRAISER:
It's a great first edition, it's a great book. It looks great on the shelves. It's called a three-decker because of the three volumes, but it is one book, published between 1783 and 1785, so it came out in installments over those three years. And this is a historical romance, and you're right, it takes place, involves Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots. Yeah, and two children who were being hidden because they're Catholic, and the Protestants have taken over. But it has a gothic nature to it, and that's why it's something of very much interest today is because there is great interest in the gothic novelists, and she is among them.

GUEST:
Fascinating!

APPRAISER:
So, in today's marketplace, we would auction-estimate this at $2,000 to $3,000.

GUEST:
Is that right?

APPRAISER:
Yes.

GUEST:
Well, how fascinating. Thank you.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Christie's
New York, NY
Appraised value (2008)
$2,000 Auction$3,000 Auction
Event
Wichita, KS (July 12, 2008)
Period
18th Century
Form
Book
Material
Paper

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