Page last updated at 22:46 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Dickens toothpick fetches $9,000 in New York auction

Charles Dickens ivory and gold toothpick (Bonhams)
The toothpick has Dickens's initials and a retracting mechanism

An ivory and gold toothpick once owned by Charles Dickens has sold at auction in New York City for $9,150 (£5,625).

The item is engraved with the English author's initials. It was sold by heirs to the Barnes and Noble family.

The pre-sale estimate was $3,000 to $5,000. The auctioneer, Bonhams, said the buyer did not want to be named.

An authentication letter from Dickens's sister-in-law says the author of Great Expectations and A Christmas Carol used the toothpick up to his death in 1870.

The author, also known by the pen-name of Boz, created some of the most memorable fictional characters of all time.

Dickens's work - which also includes Oliver Twist and David Copperfield - has enjoyed enormous popularity in America since the author's own lifetime.

He visited the country and wrote the travelogue American Notes.

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