Auction News

Million dollar Sherlock Holmes manuscript leads “significant” book sale


Sherlock Holmes by Sidney Paget

A signed Sherlock Holmes manuscript from a surgeon’s private library will be sold in one of the most significant book sales of the 21st Century say auctioneers Sotheby’s.

The Swantko collection includes a manuscript of the second Sherlock Holmes novel described as the most significant ever sold.

Dr Rodney P. Swantko died aged 82 in 2022. Alongside a distinguished medial career, he was also a dedicated bibliophile who bid by telephone at important sales throughout his life.

His collection will be sold on June 26 at a live auction at Sotheby’s New York.

The small library includes the signed Sign of Four manuscript with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s own hand-written corrections, annotations and notes throughout. That is expected to realise between $800,000 and $1.2 million, which would easily set a record for Holmes manuscripts.

Holmes will never go out of style. The Sign of Four manuscript. Image courtesy Sotheby’s.

The original Sidney Paget drawing The Death of Sherlock Holmes from The Final Problem is predicted to raise $250,000 to $350,000.

There are also presentation copies of The Great Gatsby signed by Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald ($180,000 to $250,000) and Lolita, dedicated by Nabokov to Graham Greene.

Swatko was a private man and, while he was known as a book lover, the extent and quality of his collection was not known. He made some gifts to libraries during his lifetime, but his obituary records golf as his greatest passion.

Sotheby’s New York describe the library as “carefully assembled and brimming with literary treasures, this collection offers a glimpse into the world of classic 19th and 20th-century literature.”

The most valuable books sold at auction have been early Christian texts and first folios of Shakespeare. A manuscript of J. K. Rowling’s The Tales of Beedle the Bard sold for just under $4 million in 2007.

The Swatko library will be sold at auction in New York on June 26.

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