Three watercolours for the Ladybird book The Life-Boat Men of 1971 sold for £900 at Tennants.

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A number of lots produced substantially higher than expected bids and three watercolours produced for The Life-Boat Men of 1971 sold at £900, while another lot offering just two pictures from the same book made £1150.

Maritime lots generally sold well. ‘Radar Workers’ and ‘Sonar Room Workers’ from The Sailors of 1967 made £750 and two lots offering four pictures apiece from The Shipbuilders of 1969 sold at £950 and £1200.

Two watercolours made for another title in the ‘People at Work’ series, The Airmen of 1967 – one of them a ‘Vulcan Bomber’ illustration – sold at £750.

The Ladybird imprint was established in 1915 with the aim of providing “pure and healthy” literature for children, but it is the little books that made their first appearance in 1940 and saw their heyday in the late 1950s-’70s that are nowadays so fondly remembered and collected.

Born and raised in west London and an official war artist attached to the Eighth Army in the Western Desert, Berry was one of Ladybird’s longest-serving artists. He illustrated more than 35 books for the company from 1961-78.

Tennants decided to offer the collection of some 150 artworks in two parts – a second portion will be sold on August 2.