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Al Hirschfield’s original cover artwork for Why a Duck?, a profusely illustrated work about the Marx Brothers edited by Richard J Anobile and published in 1971, sold for $20,000 (£15,660) at Swann in New York.

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A signed ink on board drawing, it made $20,000 (£15,660) in an Illustration Art sale held by Swann Galleries (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) of New York on December 6.

The book’s curious title commemorates a well-known gag in the first extant Marx Brothers film*, The Cocoanuts of 1929. In somewhat abbreviated form it runs as follows – Groucho: “…here is a little peninsula, and here is a viaduct leading over to the mainland.”

Chico: “Alright! Why a duck? Why that… why a duck? Why a no chicken?”

* No print survives of a much earlier silent film.