AN April 29 sale held by Bloomsbury Auctions presented an enormous selection of children’s, illustrated and private press books that ran to nearly 900 lots. While there was much to admire in the other sections of the sale, I shall concentrate on the children’s books for this report. A great many of the lots came from one fine collection in which many of the books contained a bookplate designed by Pauline Baynes.
According to Marjorie Moon, the first two books by Mary Elliott to be published, both in 1809, were The Mice and their Pic Nic, a Good Moral Tale and Innocent Poetry. Here the first copy of that mouse book ever seen at auction and Moon's own copy of Innocent Poetry, both in original wrappers and containing engraved illustrations, sold at £750 and £850 to Quaritch. Sold at £800 to one particularly active collector that I shall call Buyer-J was Elizabeth's Poems, or Original Pieces for Children, a Marshall item of c.1815 in original wrappers and containing six etched and hand coloured plates.
An 1805 first (in contemporary kid over original boards) of The Looking-Glass... by 'Theophilius Marecliffe', aka William Godwin, in which is told the story of the early life of the artist William Mulready, with plates reproducing some of his earlier drawings, was sold at £1400 to Burmester, who also gave £540 for an 1802 first in original wrappers for one of the scarcest Harris publications, Jane West's The Sorrows of Selfishness...
An 1808 first of Ann Taylor's The Wedding of the Flowers, the only copy of this imitation of Roscoe's Butterfly's Ball seen at auction since the 1967 appearance of the imperfect Oppenheimer copy, was sold at £800 to a collector.
Copies of Kipling's two Jungle Books of 1894-95 that were in virtually mint condition sold at £3000, while a 1906 first edition of Puck of Pook's Hill in a plain and simple typographical dust jacket (the only such copy listed in auction records), lotted with a 1910 first of Rewards and Fairies, brought £2400. Both went to P. Harrington.
A fine example in original boards of one of the 200 copies that Beatrix Potter had printed of the February 1902, second issue of The Tale of Peter Rabbit was sold for £12,000, and a copy of the first Frederick Warne (trade) edition of that same year, the spine showing some careful restoration, made £1800 (Bromlea).
A fine copy of the 1902 first trade edition of The Tailor of Gloucester, in pink boards, made £2000 (Sotherans) but bidding was taken to £6000 (Heritage) for one of the few copies issued in reddish morocco as an alternative to the deluxe cloth-bound version. Two other notable Beatrix Potter successes were recorded by very fine copies of ...Tom Kitten of 1907 and ...Jemima Puddleduck of 1908, which sold at £4600 and £4800 respectively to Jonkers.
Children's Sports & Pastimes, a Dean moving picture book of 1860 featuring eight coloured litho plates with lever-operated moving parts, made £950 (Blackwells) and, complete with all 14 cut-out and embossed figures that are intended to be placed in slots in the four large coloured illustrations, a copy of Louis Wain's Days in Catland of c.1905 went to Bromlea at £1400.
An excellent copy in original cloth of the 1892 first English edition of ...Pinocchio, one of only a few copies made up from Fisher Unwin's sheets for issue in America by Cassells, was just one of the classic titles purchased by another of the more active collectors at the sale, whom I shall designate Buyer-M.
As well as picking up Carlo Lorenzi's famous puppet story at £2600, this collector secured a copy of Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows, the dark blueish-greeen cloth gilt binding rubbed and slightly frayed at the edges, at £1400, and a 1920 first of Hugh Lofting's The Story of Doctor Doolittle, at £540.
In a slightly chipped jacket and with some fading to the edges of the cloth, a 1950 first edition of C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was sold at £1500 and signed copies of two quite recent titles, an immaculate, unread copy of the privately printed, 2002 first edition of the Rev. Graham Taylor's Shadowmancer, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which came out only last year, sold at £700 and £2700. The latter went to P. Harrington.