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3rd Dec 2018
Beatrix Potter The Tale of Peter Rabbit 1902 first edition estimate 800 1000 1

The eyes of children’s book collectors from all over the world will be on Aylsham in Norfolk this week, when an extraordinary collection of first editions goes under the hammer at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers.

Sixty first editions covering almost all of the works of Beatrix Potter are among the highlights of the auction, along with a very rare pristine-condition first edition of A.A.Milne’s ‘The House At Pooh Corner’.

The books are among over 1,400 lots which will go under the hammer during the two day Book and Ephemera sale, which takes place on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th December.

The collection of Beatrix Potter first editions include all of the Edwardian author’s well-known titles, including ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’, her first book, published in 1902.  The rare first edition has a pre-sale estimate of £800-£1,200.

Also featuring is the first edition of A.A.Milne’s ‘The House at Pooh Corner’, dating from 1928.  In amazing condition, right down to its pristine dust jacket, the book has a pre-sale estimate of £500-£600.

“Keys has a national reputation in the antique book market, and this is a remarkable collection of very collectable first editions,” said Keys head of books Robert Henshilwood. 

“Many people will remember reading these books as children, and it is that familiarity which makes them so collectable.  We are expecting huge interest from dealers and collectors from throughout the United kingdom and beyond.”

The Book and Ephemera Sale takes place at Keys ‘ Aylsham salerooms on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th December.

Beatrix Potter

Helen Beatrix Potter was born in London in 1866.  Although she never went to school her parents employed an art teacher, and the young Beatrix spent many hours making sketches of plants and animals – including her pet rabbits Benjamin Bouncer and Peter Piper, which became the inspiration for Peter Rabbit.

She eventually studied as a botanist at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, combining her love of the natural world and her skills as an artist to good effect.

Initially rejected by publishers, her first book ‘The Take of Peter Rabbit’ was self-published in 1901, before finally finding a publisher the following year – with the proviso that Beatrix re-illustrated the book in colour.  This set the tone for a long series of similar books, all of which were a huge success.

In later life Beatrix married and moved to the Lake District, where she invested the money she had made from her books in buying several farms.  When she died in 1943, she left 15 farms and over 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust, and organisation she had supported staunchly during later life.

More than a century after they were first published, Beatrix Potter’s books still sell a staggering two million copies every year – four copies every minute.