Some of you may want to sit down for this. This simple gold ring, set with a cabochon-cut blue stone that Sotheby’s believes to be odontalite (a 19th-century substitute for turquoise) comes with a note. Dated November 1869, it says: “My dear Caroline. The enclosed Ring once belonged to your Aunt Jane. It was given to me by your Aunt Cassandra as soon as she knew that I was engaged to your Uncle. I bequeath it to you. God bless you!” The note is signed by Eleanor Austen.
Yep, this ring belonged to Jane Austen. Simple and unostentatious (is that a word?), the ring is thought to be a good example of Jane’s taste (and budget); the auction catalogue cites a letter she wrote to her sister Cassandra, mentioning a locket that is “neat and plain.” After Jane’s death in 1817, the ring passed to Cassandra, who then gave it to her brother Thomas’s fiancée, Eleanor Jackson. Eleanor, as you read above, then left it to her niece Caroline Austen. Caroline never married, so the ring then passed on to her brother’s daughter Mary, and it continued to move through the family until today.
The ring will be auctioned at Sotheby’s London next Tuesday (July 10), in their English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations” sale. The estimated price is $31,000 – 47,000.
Note: This auction is KILLING ME. Not only is there the Austen ring, there’s also one of the two silver cigarette cases that Agatha Christie gave to the two musicians who recognized her at the Hydro Hotel in Harrogate, bringing an end to her mysterious 11-day disappearance in 1926. There’s also stacks of original manuscripts by Dorothy Sayers and Graham Greene, an Arthur Rackham ink and watercolor illustration of the Cheshire Cat, a ton of letters written by Benjamin Disraeli and Alan Sillitoe, a beautiful bound and illuminated copy of the Magna Carta, and, and, and, and … Push some more of my buttons, Sotheby’s. Damn.
Hi yes, I love Colonel Christopher Brandon. I don’t care if he’s too ‘old’ and fictional.
I need this quote on my page because YES.
and it was so lovely
The thing about Jane Austen is that she / her works always make me happy in the moment I’m enjoying them, but afterwards I always feel sad. I guess it’s just the impossibility of perfect matches in real life. I mean, there are no Colonel Brandons floating about, and that is a tragedy. Because I would marry them all.
Austen critiques the customs that keep women largely powerless, sometimes in her narration, sometimes in the dialogue that she writes for her characters. Lizzie Bennet, the beloved heroine, is a symbol of Austen’s more modern values. Lizzie’s ultimate triumph is a triumph of the new ways over the old ones.
I’m not quite sure what this is, but I want it to happen.