An EH Shepard drawing in which Christopher Robin, Pooh and Piglet look down from a bridge at the stream below them, it was created for the famous ‘Poohsticks’ episode in The House at Pooh Corner of 1928.
It was sold for £260,000 – but could that record be broken when a small group of Shepard drawings, unseen at auction for some 50 years and all from the same source, comes up for sale in the New Bond Street salerooms on July 10?
This time Sotheby’s (25/20/12.9% buyer’s premium) has put a £100,000-150,000 estimate on a lot billed as “probably the most famous map in English literature”.
It is the one that features on both the front and rear endpapers of the 1926 book in which AA Milne and Shepard first charmed audiences with tales set in the Hundred Acre Wood: Winnie-the-Pooh.
Inscribed beneath the image “Drawn by me and Mr Shepard helpd” and featuring other, sometimes clumsily spelled locations such as “Nice for Piknicks”, and significant locations like “Pooh Trap for Heffalumps”, Christopher Robin’s map of the “100 Aker Wood” has huge sales potential. In 1968 Sotheby’s sold it for £650 and two years later, on its quick return, it was bid to £1700 in the same rooms.
Could that record be broken when a small group of Shepard drawings comes up for sale in New Bond Street?
At lower right the map is marked “Eeyores Gloomy Place. Rather Boggy and Sad”, and another of the lots being offered by Sotheby’s shows poor put-upon Eeyore floating beneath the bridge on which the famous ‘Poohsticks’ game was played in Chapter VI of The House at Pooh Corner.
It is offered with a companion drawing of Pooh, Piglet, Roo and Rabbit peering down from the bridge in a lot estimated at £80,000- 120,000. In 1970 the pair of drawings made £700.
Shepard had sold many of his original drawings through the Sporting Gallery in the 1920s but demand remained high and, having retained his original sketches (only much later given to the V&A), he was able to re-create them.
Over the years Shepard is known to have produced a fair number of copies, sometimes for friends and family.
A version of that record-breaking ‘Poohsticks’ drawing sold in 2015 that is offered in this summer’s sale must have been one of the earlier copies, being signed and dated 1929. Last seen at auction in 1969, when it made £1700, it now bears an estimate of £60,000-80,000.
The final drawing, one for which I do not have any earlier price record, is pitched at £70,000-80,000 in the July sale.
It is yet another illustration from The House at Pooh Corner – a double-page drawing from the book’s final chapter, ‘An Enchanted Place’.
Pooh and Christopher Robin are seen walking hand-in-hand to the “…very top of the Forest”, where Milne makes an emotional goodbye to readers with the words “…wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place in the top of the Forest a little boy and his bear will always be playing”.