An iconic drawing of Winnie the Pooh by EH Shepard has stunned auctioneers, by selling for an astonishing £314,500. It was three times the estimate that had been placed on the black and white ink drawing, and broke two world records.
The picture was drawn in 1928 and shows Pooh, Piglet and Christopher Robin playing pooh sticks. It was included in the second Winnie the Pooh book, The House at Pooh Corner, and is considered the book's most iconic illustration.
One of the reasons why the sale price came as such a surprise was that a pencil drawing of the same scene sold for £58,750 last year. It also eclipses the price of the only known oil painting that Shepherd did of Pooh, which sold in 2000 for £150,000.
The ink version has set two new records - one for the most expensive illustration by Shephard ever to sell, and the second for the most expensive book illustration ever sold at auction.
Both AA Milne and EH Shephard spoke out at various times against Pooh - because both felt he overshadowed their later work. Annoyingly for them both, a literary agent called Stephen Slesinger bought the US and Canadian TV and mechandising rights in 1930 for a $1,000 advance and two thirds of the subsequent earnings. By 1931 be had built a £25 million a year business. Thirty years later these rights were sold to Disney.
Most expensive children's books
The ink illustration of Pooh far exceeds the price of the most valuable first edition of a children's book. This goes to The Tale of Peter Rabbit, printed in 1901, which in good condition would now fetch £50,000. The second place on this list goes to a 1997 first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, which is worth around £15,000.
However, as children's books go, it has a long way to go to beat the record ever fetched at auction. JK Rowling created seven copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard (the book that features in the Deathly Hallows). They were all handwritten and illustrated by Rowling. She gave six to family and friends and sold the seventh at auction to raise money for a children's charity. Amazon.com bought it for $3.98 million.
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