A watercolor portrait of Jane Austen commissioned by her nephew in 1869 sold for $270,000 at Sotheby’s on Tuesday. The anonymous private collector who purchased it called the portrait “the most important likeness of Jane Austen ever to appear on the open market.” The painting by James Andrews was taken from a pencil portrait by Austen’s sister Cassandra and is thought to be the “only confirmed portrait of Austen made before her death in 1817.” The pencil portrait is owned by the National Gallery in London. You can read more in this NYT article.
A copy of the Bay Psalm Book, published in 1640 in Cambridge, MA is on display today at the Newberry Library as one stop of a grand book tour sponsored by Sotheby’s. It is one of eleven surviving copies of the oldest book printed in North America. It’s real title is “The Whole Booke of Psalmes Faithfully Translated into English Metre,” and it hails from Cambridge, MA. The well preserved, but fragile little book was published in 1640 by printer Stephen Daye. The run was 17,000 copies, roughly one for every Puritan family in the Massachusetts colony. This copy lives a little bit like a vampire–it never sees the light of day and resides in a special box; and a little bit like a head of state–it has an entourage and tight security. Though not well known by the general public, it was featured in a mystery novel by Will Harriss: The Bay Psalm Book Murder. For more about this rare book, read the article from Monday’s Chicago Trib.