The first ‘William’ book had appeared way back in 1922, but by the time William the Lawless was published in 1970 young master Brown was out of fashion and the print run was small.
Later, when the William revival took place, boosted by a TV series, surviving copies began to soar in value.
Until last month, it was that final title that topped the auction records at £1100, but in a Toovey’s (22.5% buyer’s premium) sale of April 24 an exceptionally rare copy of the book that had launched William’s mischievous career, Just – William, regained its rightful pole position with a bid of £1200.
It lacked a sizeable portion of the creased and soiled jacket, the rear flap of which was detached, and showed some internal browning and spotting.
However, the only other copy of the first William book to feature in auction records for the past 40 year is a worn example, lacking the jacket, that sold for £260 at Bonhams in 2010.