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2015 Bookseller Resource Guide

From Incunabula to Modern Firsts—What’s Cooking at Auction

Pooh and Dorothy Are No Match For Tintin

Ernest Shepard’s original drawing of Christopher Robin and Pooh titled “Us Two.” Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Ernest H. Shepard, “Us Two,” £55,250 ($84,400) at Sotheby’s London on July 15; Frank L. Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, $18,300 at Bonhams New York on June 23, and Hergé, “Tintin et les Coquillages,” Euros 131,246 ($162,035) at Piasa of Paris on May 29.

Shepard’s drawing of Christopher Robin and Pooh climbing the stairs is not the one he made for the 1927 first edition of A. A. Milne’s Now We Are Six, but a version made less than year after publication at the request of a friend—something he continued to do throughout his life. The drawing illustrated the verse:

So wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
What would I do?’ I said to Pooh,
If it wasn’t for you’, and Pooh said, ‘True,
It isn’t much fun for One, but Two
Can stick together’, says Pooh, says he.
That’s how it is’, says Pooh.

The 1900 first of Baum’s classic was in awful condition—broken, frayed, stained, and soiled—but it was signed and inscribed with an amusing verse for Dorothy Lake, an 11-year-old that Baum had met in Waukazoo, on the shores of Lake Michigan, in 1902. Dorothy was spending a summer vacation there, and Baum was charmed by the idea of meeting a real Dorothy in the same resort area in which he had written part of the book. Presentation copies of Baum’s book are scarce, and those bearing verses especially so.

Bright watercolor illustration of Tintin, given by artist Hergé to a friend. Courtesy of Piasa of Paris.

One of the star turns of a sale devoted to the work of the Belgian children’s book writer and illustrator Hergé [Georges Remi], the creator of Tintin and chums, was an ink, watercolor, and gouache drawing in which Tintin holds an enormous shell and Captain Haddock a model sailing ship as they walk along the beach with Milou the dog [known as Snowy in English-language versions] at their feet.

Given by the artist to a friend who collected seashells, this was not one of his book artworks but two illustrations from the Tintin adventure Le Sceptre D’ Ottakar, first published in the Belgian newspaper, Le Petit Vingtième in 1939, brought a bid of 243,743 euros ($300,925) in the Paris sale. These prices reflect the scarcity of such material on the market, a large proportion of his original artwork being already in museum hands. In 2008, the artwork for Tintin in America sold for a staggering 764,200 euros ($1.2 million) by Artcurial of Paris.

Mark Twain in an Introspective Mood

Mark Twain’s manuscript, “A Family Sketch,” sold at the June sale of the James S. Copley library. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Mark Twain, “A Family Sketch,” $242,500 at Sotheby’s New York on June 17.

Just one piece of the Mark Twain collection offered in a series of sales by which the James S. Copley library is being dispersed, this 64-page manuscript set an auction record for any autograph work by the writer.

“A Family Sketch” is the unpublished missing chapter from his autobiography. Originally titled “In Memory of Olivia Susan Clemens, 1872-96,” this intimate and introspective memoir of his family and his own boyhood was written shortly after the death of his eldest daughter. In 1988, as part of the even larger Countess Doheny library, it had sold for $88,000 at Christie’s New York.

The Copley sale also saw a 32-manuscript of a chapter of The Gilded Age, in which “Colonel Sellers Makes Known His Magnificent Speculation Schemes and Astonishes Washington Hawkins,” taken to $68,500 by a collector, and a chapter from A Tramp Abroad, telling of a hike made with a Mr. Harris up River Neckar from Heidelberg to Heilbronn, was another U.S. trade purchase at $59,375.

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