NABOKV-L post 0021669, Fri, 3 Jun 2011 10:45:00 -0400

Nabokov's portable typewriters ...

Life through genuine Lolita glasses

Published: 01 June, 2011, 13:48

“Lolita” heart-shaped sunglasses will go under the hammer on June 13 (Image from

Two portable typewriters, a selection of books and a butterfly net… What could serve as evidence to an unsolved crime in an Agatha Christie story is in fact the cherished legacy left behind by the author of Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov.
These objects and a number of other sought-after historical artifacts, provided by Nabokov’s son, Dmitry, will go under the hammer at Chrtistie’s auction on June 13.

Among the highlights of the sale is Nabokov's butterfly net, circa 1960. It is a tapering nylon-weave net with white linen border enclosing a metal oval, the screw attachment fitted to a metal tube with turned wood handle. It is worth $6,568, according to Christies’ experts.

It is common knowledge that Nabokov was an ardent lepidopterist. Butterflies were his lifelong passion, along with literature. The bilingual writer published more than a dozen technical papers on the natural history of butterflies, most while employed at Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology.

Describing butterfly hunting as “the noblest sport in the world", his signature collection of butterflies, on display at Lausanne Museum, has more than 4000 specimens, representing more than 80 per cent of Western Europe's varieties.

Vladimir Nabokov's portable typewriters
A selection of books with Nabokov’s signature drawings of butterflies, which he often gave as a present to his beloved wife, Vera, will also be featured at the auction. Along with the two pairs of American “Lolita” heart-shaped lady's sunglasses in faux-leather slip-in case inscribed “V. NABOKOV”, with a butterfly above. Vera’s glasses have been valued at $3,000.

Among the most sought-after objects are his two portable typewriters and printed stationery. Dating back to the 20th Century, the first is a Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter with Latin keyboard, in traditional blue-gray metal body, in original cloth-covered case with the remains of a Cunard label with the inscription “Vladimir Nabokov, Queen Elizabeth First [Class] …” (slightly worn). The second with Cyrillic keyboard, in black metal body, in original black cloth-covered case. They come together with a cardboard box containing 13 sheets of Nabokov's headed notepaper from Cornell University, eight sheets of blue paper addressed “8 Craigie Circle, Cambridge”, and 20 envelopes en suite.

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