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Commissions flock to Shepard

The seasonally appropriate drawing of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet walking in the snow shown above right, used in the opening chapter of The House at Pooh Corner, is one such replica and is clearly identified as such on the back. It is inscribed by the illustrator, ‘Ernest H.Shepard / Replica drawing from / ‘The House at Pooh Corner’ / Sept 1965’. What it cost at that Foyles exhibition I cannot tell, but at Sotheby’s on December 13 it sold for £26,000.

Shown above left is ‘No, don’t do that! Listen to my story’, one of a group of ink and watercolour drawings that Shepard produced in the late 1940s and early ‘50s as advertisements for the malted milk drink, Horlicks. Drawings used in advertisements in the Times and Observer are recorded, but it has not been established if this one was ever published.

It sold for a mid-estimate £24,000.

Cabinet of wonders

A Lewis Carroll collection formed by the late Anthony Beale was one highlight of a Dominic Winter December 14-15 sale to which I will return in a future issue.

Here, however, we feature a couple of other items from the 220 lots of children’s books, original artworks, toys and games, and so on offered on the second day of that South Cerney sale.

Published by John Marshall in 1801, The Infant’s Cabinet of Fishes comprises 28 engraved and coloured cards showing various fish and other marine creatures, together with two miniature books, both called ‘A History of Fishes’, and all housed in a wooden box with sliding lid decorated with a harbour scene.

Other versions of Marshall’s ‘Infant’s Cabinets…’ are of course known, but they are rare and the auctioneers could find one other example of this one at auction in over 40 years. Lacking four cards, that one made £2000 at Sotheby’s in 2004. The Dominic Winter copy made £3200.

Most cards depict feature fish or crustaceans, but a whaling scene also features and, above, one shows ‘The Herring Fishery’.

Another rarity was The Scripture Alphabet…, a set of 27 alphabet cards issued c.1820 by R Miller and still contained in the original box with pictorial lid, which sold for a four-times estimate £2000. Each card bears an engraved and hand-coloured vignette, plus accompanying short verse.

Potter prototypes

One of the earlier colour drawings of rabbits produced by Beatrix Potter – depicting cycling bunnies that are assumed to be prototypes of Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter – sold for £16,000 at Sotheby’s on December 13 (top right).

Signed and dated 1895 in the lower right corner, it was sent to the sisters Elinor and Elizabeth Lupton, whose great aunt was Potter’s grandmother.

The 1895 date is significant, for it was only around 15 months earlier that Potter had sent a letter to Noel Moore in which she told a story about four little rabbits with the names that were in later years to become familiar to millions.

Sold by Dominic Winter in 2007 for £4500, the ink and watercolour drawing of ‘Peter Rabbit and Mr McGregor’ above right, signed and dated 1927, came back to Christie’s on December 1 to sell for £28,000. When sold in South Cerney it was noted that in Judith Taylor’s 1996 book on the author, it was suggested that it was among a number of watercolours by Potter sold at a guinea each to to raise money to save a strip of woodland and meadow near Windermere Ferry, and that many went at the time to American buyers.