A few months ago, I learned from Fine Books & Collections that the auction house Christie’s was selling a copy of the first issue of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in a stand-alone sale on June 16, 2016. They estimated it to sell for $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. The copy “is one of ten surviving copies still in original red cloth, only two of which are in private hands, the other described as “heavily worn.””
After the auction, I was excited to see what price the copy would realize, but a quick internet search did not yield any information. Even the Christie’s website was silent about what had happened.
It was only a few days ago that I learned from FB&C that (even though the bidding reached $1,800,000) the copy “failed to meet its reserve and did not sell.”
(Originally posted at http://joelnoche.multiply.com/journal/item/8/Alice-in-Wonderland-and-Mathematics on March 25, 2010 9:18 AM)
Many people have tried to more fully explain details in Alice in Wonderland (and Through the Looking Glass), most notably Martin Gardner. There are many hidden references to what was happening during the time the books were written: spoofs of popular songs, how languages and dances were taught, comments on society and politics, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s feelings for Alice Pleasance Liddell, and so on.
It now seems that Lewis Carroll has also hidden some references to how he felt about the mathematical advances being made during that time. Helena Pycior (in 1984) and Melanie Bayley (in 2009) have found in Alice what they think are references to Victorian mathematics. Read more about it here.