[Originally posted 24 November 2015; most recent revision, 5 September 2016.]
By coincidence, three copies of the Chaucer are coming up for sale next month (December 2015).
(1) Swann, on 1 December (lot 140), will be offering a quarter-linen copy in a modern clamshell case, with an estimate of $45,000–$60,000. The spine label and the binding show some signs of wear. (For an earlier sale of the book, see this post.)
[Update, 5 December 2015.] The book sold for $62, 500 (including buyer’s premium). Here is a link to the online catalogue. And we apologize for the wrong date in our original post: the auction was on 24 November 2015, not 1 December.
(2) Christie’s (New York), in its 8 December auction (lot 226), will sell another copy, this in a blue morocco binding by Sangorski & Sutcliffe with a cloth slipcase. The estimate is $4o,000–$60,000. (We listed this in our Census, 3.228, under unlocated copies.)
[Update, 9 December 2015.] This copy sold for $50,000.
(3) The most spectacular of the three copies is the one included in Sotheby’s (London) sale of 15 December, lot 82, inscribed by Morris “to R. Catterson Smith from William Morris July 7th 1896.” There are only a few copies of the Chaucer signed by Morris, who died a few months after its publication, and what lends importance to this particular inscription is that Robert Catterson-Smith was heavily involved in the production of the book: he revised Burne-Jones’s designs before they were handed over to the engraver. (On Catterson-Smith, see also this post and this one.) The pre-auction estimate is £100,000–£200,000. The binding is quarter-linen with a loose-fitting Morris fabric covering, reproduced below:
[Update, 5 September 2016.] Our apologies for being so slow in recording the following information. This extremely interesting association copy failed to find a buyer at the auction, but afterwards it was purchased from the family by Mark Samuels Lasner, whose collection is at the University of Delaware Library. He also acquired at the sale a substantial body of correspondence and other documents that shed new light on Catterson-Smith’s role in creating the illustrations for the Chaucer.