Crompton’s irrepressible creation had actually made a first appearance in ‘The Outlaws’, a story published in a woman’s magazine during the First World War, and he appeared in many other publications over the years – but it is the books that are the main focus for collectors.
At £575 the copy sold in a June 16-17 sale held by Keys (20% buyer’s premium) was not a record breaker – three or four copies have made more at auction and in 2008 Bloomsbury sold one for £1100 – but it was followed at £1500 by a lot focusing on William’s magazine appearances.
Dating from 1923-40 were some 80 issues in original wrappers of The Happy Mag, most of them featuring stories about the boy who remained forever just 11 years old.
The most expensive lot of the Norfolk sale was very different, being a five-volume set of Alexandre du Sommerard’s Les Artes du Moyen Age. A finely bound first edition set of 1836-48 – the elephant folio atlas volume containing over 500 litho plates, 368 of them coloured – it made £3600.