Would you buy Charles Dickens' toothpick?
Modern celebrities are used to having every little item they touch turn to golden treasures in the eyes of their devotees: Robert Pattinson’s cherry ChapStick, a lock of Elvis’ raven tresses, Meatloaf’s girdle. But acclaimed literary figures have usually been excluded from such fetishistic fandom. At least, until now.
Earlier this month, Cormac McCarthy’s Lettera 32 Olivetti typewriter, on which the famed writer click-clacked his way through all of his novels, sold at auction to a rare book dealer for $254,500. Now comes word that an ivory toothpick used by Charles Dickens has been purchased for $9,150, almost doubling Bonhams auction house’s not-so-great expectations. The dental device comes with a letter from Dickens’ sister-in-law verifying its use by the classic author (The Toothpickwick Papers?), and the handle is engraved with his initials.
I must admit, I’m a little grossed out by this. And I fully appreciate why the auction winner might want to remain anonymous. I understand wanting to get close to a beloved litterateur, but spending thousands in the hope of capturing a little bit of Christmas goose that once occupied the space between his teeth seems a little, well, yuck. What’s next? Lord Byron’s bedpan? A moldy leftover Cuban sandwich from Ernest Hemingway? Proust’s Q-Tip?
What do you think? Are there any author-related items you’d pay top dollar to get your hands on? Or should we just stick to their books?