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Lot #342
Emily Dickinson Autograph Poem Signed

Exceedingly rare handwritten poem by Emily Dickinson, soliciting a shopkeeper's smile: "I came to buy a smile—today—"

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Estimate: $50000+
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Exceedingly rare handwritten poem by Emily Dickinson, soliciting a shopkeeper's smile: "I came to buy a smile—today—"

Autograph poem by Emily Dickinson, signed "Emily," two pages on two adjoining sheets, 4 x 6.25, no date but circa 1861. Fabulous autograph manuscript of a poem by Emily Dickinson, rendered in her distinctive, slanted handwriting. In full:

"I came to buy
a smile—today—
But just a single
The smallest one upon
your face
Will suit me just
as well—
The one that no one
else would miss
It shone so very small—
I'm pleading at
the 'counter'—sir—
Could you afford to sell—
I've Diamonds—
on my fingers—
You know what
Diamonds are?
I've Rubies—like
the Evening Blood—
And Topaz—like
the Star!
'Twould be 'a bargain'
for a Jew!
Say—may I have

In fine condition, with a small old tape stain to the center of the second page, and partial separation along the hinge. Collected in the 1998 edition of the Franklin Variorum as no. F258A, this is one of two known copies of the autograph manuscript of this lovely Dickinson poem—the other known example is not signed. This one was apparently sent to Samuel Bowles, family friend and journalist who was the owner and editor-in-chief of the Springfield Republican. Any autographic material from Dickinson—a recluse who did not achieve notoriety in her lifetime—is extraordinarily rare, and this is just the second handwritten poem by her that we have ever offered. A true rarity that would be the centerpiece of any American literary collection.

Past sales history: Sotheby Parke Bernet, Printed and Manuscript Americana, April 28, 1982.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts Featuring Art and Literature
  • Dates: #645 - Ended October 12, 2022

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