That December 15 sale contained a small archive of material relating to the work of the artist and humourist Vincent Cartwright Vickers (1879-1939), whose family name is perhaps more familiar from the armaments and engineering world.
Sent for auction by his great grandson was Vickers’ own example of the 100 limited edition copies of his Google Book issued in 1913.
In a contemporary binding of citron crushed morocco by Bumpus, it showed worming to the margins of some early pages, but sold for a record £3000.
In Vickers’ Google world, the monster that bears that name sleeps in a pool in a beautiful garden by day and preys on the various fantastical birds of Google Land by night.
Colourful illustrations accompany verses about the birds, among them the Great Skull-Headed Ston Trot, the Gogo (or Camel Bird), the Little Gadwot, the Shiver-Doodle, the Flabbytoes and the Soft Nosed Wollop.
Sold for £520 was a second edition of the book, issued by the Medici Society in 1931, that is inscribed by its creator as follows: “Warning! Curse not the writer of this drivel Verse/Nor blame your Mother, or your Nurse/Who bids you turn the pages of this Book/My Child!/For if, my dear. you somewhat fear/what will appear is rather queer, or else asutere,/Don’t look! My Child!”
A few related original watercolours of Vickers’ mythical creations also brought good prices and the striking example reproduced above sold for £1650.
A generally clean and pink copy of the 1902, first, privately printed edition of The Tailor of Gloucester sold at £4200 in the Dominic Winter sale.
In the 1970s it was inscribed by Beatrix Potter’s bibliographer, Leslie Linder, and given in payment to the vendor’s husband for legal work.
Other juvenile highlights of recent weeks include two Roald Dahl books that had as a provenance the author’s literary agent and brought excellent prices in a John Nicholson’s sale of December 13. A 1943, US first of The Gremlins signed ‘With love from Roald…” made £5500 and a 1982 first of The BFG, signed by both the author and the illustrator, Quentin Blake, made £1900.
Chocks away in Leyburn
In a Tennants sale of January 4 a large collection of WE Johns books sold at £1600.
Most were Biggles books, though there were 11 ‘Worralls’ books and 10 ‘Gimlet’ titles, but while the 120 books represented what the auctioneers called “a near complete set of titles”, these were mixed editions.
Where Biggles firsts are concerned, individual copies of the earlier and scarcer titles in dust jackets have made as much as £3000 apiece, perhaps more.