Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vintage Leather and Brass Dog Collar Belonging to Charles Dickens

Sold at Bonham's for $11,590 including premium.

Here's part of the auction house description:

A leather and brass collar belonging to Charles Dickens, British, 19th century
nameplate inscribed 'C. Dickens, Esqe,,/Gad's Hill, Place,/Higham.'
length 23 in. (58.4 cm.) height 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm.)

Sold for $11,590 inclusive of Buyer's Premium

Like many Victorians, Dickens maintained a strong fondness for animals, dogs in particular. In an article printed shortly after his death his attachment is described and quoted.

'All animals which he took under his especial patronage seemed to have a marked affection for him. Quite a colony of dogs has always been a feature at Gad's Hill. When Dickens returned home from his last visit to America, these dogs were frequently spoken of in his letters. In May, 1868, he writes: "As you ask me about the dogs, I begin with them. The two Newfoundland dogs coming to meet me, with the usual carriage and the usual driver, and beholding me coming in my usual dress out at the usual door, it struck me that their recollection of my having been absent for any unusual time was at once cancelled. They behaved (they are both young dogs) exactly in their usual manner; coming behind the basket phaeton as we trotted along, and lifting their heads to have their ears pulled,—a special attention which they receive from no one else. But when I drove into the stable-yard, Linda (the St. Bernard) was greatly excited, weeping profusely, and throwing herself on her back that she might caress my foot with her great fore-paws. M.'s little dog, too, Mrs. Bouncer, barked in the greatest agitation, on being called down and asked, 'Who is this?' tearing round and round me like the dog in the Faust outlines."' James T. Fields, Atlantic, August, 1870

It may be difficult to ascertain exactly which dog was the owner of the present collar, but given its large size, Mrs. Bouncer, a Pomeranian, is an unlikely candidate.