Auctions | February 18, 2013

Children’s Book Illustrations, Cartoons, and Sendak: Results from Swann Galleries

New York—Strong press interest and passionate collectors led to impressive prices for examples of 20th Century Illustration: Original Art / Books, Featuring Maurice Sendak on January 24.

Christine von der Linn, Swann Galleries’ Art & Illustrated Books specialist, said, “What began as a fun collaboration and experimental sale concept blossomed into an event that received huge public and press attention. We are so pleased with the response and interest from buyers and sellers alike that we eagerly anticipate a 2014 sale and the creation of a new auction category at Swann.”

Bidders competed vigorously for a Sunday Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz featuring Charlie Brown and Patty (not to be confused with tomboy Peppermint Patty), from March 1963, which sold for $22,800.

The sale’s top lot was a set of 48 proof plates of illustrations from Charlotte’s Web by Garth Williams, watercolored by Rosemary Wells for the 50th Anniversary edition, signed by Wells, New York, 2002, $28,800*. Another Williams highlight was a pair of ink drawings from Stuart Little, circa 1945, $16,800.

Other high prices for beloved children’s literature illustrators were Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss)’s A Pair of Llamas in Peru, pen, ink and watercolor on board, which brought $21,600; Hilary Knight’s illustration of Plaza hotel denizen Eloise, created for a New York Times Magazine cover (and never used), mixed media, 1988, $7,200; and Ludwig Bemelmans’s Madeline, watercolor and ink drawing, $6,600.

A fine collection of Maurice Sendak books assembled by the late book dealer Reed Orenstein featured three copies of Where the Wild Things Are, a first edition, signed and inscribed with a drawing of one of the book’s Wild Things, New York, 1963, $18,000; a signed true first edition, issued with the scarce pre-Caldicott award dust jacket, New York, 1963, $6,240; and a 25th-anniversary edition, signed and with a separate original ink drawing of another beast, 1988, $4,560.

Other Sendak highlights were a copy of Beatrice Schenk de Regniers’s What Can You Do with a Shoe? Illustrated by Sendak, with a drawing of the children from the story with Sendak's dog Jennie, and inscribed and signed “Maurice” to fellow children’s book author and illustrator Irene Haas, 1955, $3,120; and a complete set of Seven Little Stories on Big Subjects illustrated by Sendak and published by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, 1955, each signed by Sendak, and with the scarce insert, $2,640.

Other children’s books of note included a charming and rare artifact of Helen Sewell and Suzanne Langer’s early careers, a mock-up with original illustrations and cut-and-pasted text of The Cruise of the Little Dipper, as well as a first edition, New York, 1923, $2,400.

This sale saw the auction debut for the work of celebrated dust jacket artist Fred Marcellino, whose mixed-media cover art for Thomas Pynchon's Slow Learner, 1984, set a benchmark at $6,720.

Also setting an auction record was Carter Goodrich’s Higher Calling, watercolor, published as a New Yorker cover, August 1998, $7,200.

Doubling that price was a James Thurber New Yorker cover, Rites of Spring, circa 1940, for $14,400. Another Thurber item, He Doesn't Believe a Single Word He's Read in the Past Ten Years, ink cartoon, brought $10,200.

Other newspaper and magazine highlights included a Violet Oakley oil study for Century Magazine cover, early 1900s, $7,200; Charles Addams’s Couple  passing a giant bird house, watercolor published in The New Yorker, January 1948, $6,000; and several Al Hirschfeld ink drawings for the New York Times, such as The Counter Culture at Zabar's, published May 1971, $11,400;  Summertime, $8,400; Here's Love, published July 1963, $7,800; The Apple Tree, published October 1966, $7,800; and Pippin, published October 1972, $6,240.

For complete results, an illustrated catalogue, with prices realized on request, is available for $35 from Swann Galleries, 104 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, and may be viewed online at

For further information, and to propose consignments to upcoming Illustration auctions, please contact Christine von der Linn at (212) 254-4710 ext. 20, or via email at


*All prices include buyer’s premium.