Rare Hamlet Copy Goes Unsold at Auction; Lear, Caesar, Macbeth Reign

By Ernio Hernandez
15 Apr 2004

The rare copy of William Shakespeare's Hamlet that was up for auction at Christie's in New York City April 14, expecting a closing price in the range of $1.5-2 million, went unsold.



Of the 100 lots offered at the event, 95 in the collection were bid upon successfully. Bids on the Hamlet copy topping at $1.2 million did not reach the seller's reserve price. The unsold item will return to the estate of the late collector, according to a Christie's spokesperson.

The auction, titled "Important English Drama including Shakespeare from the Estate of Mary, Viscountess of Eccles," took place at Christie's Rockefeller Center location in New York City, April 14 at 2 PM. The collection brought in a total of $1,867,092.

The collection belonged to Viscountess Mary Crapo Hyde Eccles a bibliophile who amassed an impressive lot of English literature over 60 year in Somerville, New Jersey. The unsold Hamlet manuscript is the "earliest obtainable copy of Shakespeare's masterpiece still remaining in private hands," according to the Christie's auction data.

Among the other items on the bidding block were editions of King Lear, Richard II, Julius Caesar and Macbeth. The current Broadway production must have stirred some timely bids as the Lear went for $65, 725. The Caesar and Macbeth also sold at $26,290 and $31,070, respectively.

Other titles in the catalogue (of over 100 lots) include writings by such Shakespeare contemporaries as Sir Francis Bacon, Queen Elizabeth I, Ben Johnson, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Henry Irving.

For more information, visit the Book and Manuscripts section on Christie's website at http://www.christies.com.