Swann Auction Galleries to Sell Original Heath Robinson Artwork for 1909 Kipling Book Cover

Kipling copy.jpg“Heath Robinson” - coined during the First World War - is still used today to describe anything mechanical that looks as though it is absurdly homespun and only just held together by a bit of string and sticking tape.

Of course the name came from the great illustrator and cartoonist William Heath Robinson, whose drawings of fantasy inventions and extraordinary rackety contraptions remain hugely popular today, more than a century on from when he first started including them in children’s books and in satirical cartoons.

As an artist, however, he began his career as a book illustrator, adorning editions of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales, The Arabian Nights and others.

This watercolour, graphite, pen and ink design for A Song of the English, above right, Rudyard Kipling’s poetry collection, was used for the cover and spine when the poem and six others were first published as a separate edition by Hodder & Stoughton in London in 1909.

The book featured further black and white illustrations by Heath Robinson (not included here) but not even the published cover depicted the colour highlights picked out here, although the design adopted was otherwise identical.

This rarity will feature in the September 29 Illustration Art sale at Swann Auction Galleries of New York, where it carries an estimate of $1,500-$2,500.

Image courtesy of Swann Auction Galleries


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