Published: 00:01, 02 April 2011
An inkwell used by Charles Dickens to write his last novel has sold for £950 at auction.
The brass container was kept in Dickens' Swiss Chalet at his home Gad's Hill, Higham, where he used to write. It was the one he used to dip his quill pen into when he wrote the Mystery of Edwin' Drood. The novel was the author's very last work and was incomplete at the time of his death in 1870.
Dickens bequeathed items in his study to members of staff at the house and the inkwell ended up in the hands of his houseboy, Harry Johnson.
Auctioneer John Dickins, of Dickins Auctioneers of Middle Clayton, Bucks, said was an important piece of literary history.
"Charles Dickens is one of our most popular authors.
"Of all the books that come through our auction rooms, Dickens is the most sought - after the Bible.”
The inkwell was sold at auction today, Saturday, by a man who bought it at a London market stall in the 1980s.
The item had a cutting from the Kent Messenger with it which helped tell its history.
It was written by one of the Kent Messenger's village correspondents, Arch Morris, who owned it for nearly half a century.
Mr Dickins said: "Looking inside it, you can see where the ink has been in the inkwell as it has started to corrode the metal inside.
"You can imagine from a writer's point of view, Dickens' dipping his quill pen into the inkwell on his desk."
The inkwell was estimated to make between £600 and £800.
Louise Dickins, from the auction house, said: “There were four people bidding on the telephone as well as bids on our internet site and in the auction room itself. It was a frantic few minutes.”