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29th Mar 2019
Dandy Annual 1939 front cover estimate 1200 1500

A copy of the first ever ‘Dandy’ Annual dating from 1939, a pristine first edition of Watership Down, an 1831 first illustrated edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and a rare edition of the so-called ‘Vinegar Bible’ from 1717 are among the lots to go under the hammer in Keys’ first two day Book Sale, which takes place on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th April.

Also in the sale are a first illustrated edition of Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs Of An Infantry Officer, a 17th century, and a 1657 copy of James Howell’s Londinopolis featuring a fascinating engraving of the capital just a few years before it was ravaged by the Great Fire of London.

Highlights of the sale include:

  • A copy of the first ever ‘Dandy’ Monster Comic (annual), dating from 1939.  The book features many of the characters which would go on to be household comic names, such as Desperate Dan and Korky The Cat.  Published late in 1938 with a cover price of 2/6, the annual was the first of 80 to be published so far.  In 2018 there was significant national media attention when Keys sold a copy of the first ever ‘Beano annual from 1940, with the book making £2,700, twice its midpoint pre-sale estimate.  The Dandy annual has a pre-sale estimate of £1,200-£1,500.
  • A first edition of Richard Adams’ Watership Down, published in 1972, in very good condition.  Adams’ first novel, it was rejected by several publishers before being taken on by Rex Collings, and was adapted as an animated feature film in 1978.  The pre-sale estimate is £300-£350
  • A first illustrated edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, published in 1831, the same year as the first print edition.  The illustrated edition included a new introduction and an additional chapter, and it is this which has become the definitive version.  Illustrated by T Holst and engraved by W. Chevalier, the illustrations are notable for being nothing like the modern perception of Frankenstein’s monster, which is largely informed by the Boris Karloff portrayal in the original film, made in 1931, exactly 100 years after the publication of the book.  The pre-sale estimate is £1,500-£2,000.
  • A first illustrated edition of Siegfried Sassoon’s Memoirs Of An Infantry Officer.  Limited to a print run of just 320 copies, the book was illustrated by Barnet Freedman, and the lot being sold by Keys is signed by both Sassoon and Freedman.  First published in 1931, the illustrated edition dates from the following year, and has a pre-sale estimate of £600-£800.
  • A very rare copy of the so-called ‘Vinegar Bible’ dating from 1717.  Published by J.Baskett, the Bible was notorious for its many spelling errors and misprints, including calling the Parable of the Vineyard in Luke 20 ‘The Parable of the Vinegar’.  The edition was so riddled with errors that one contemporary reviewer dubbed it ‘A Baskett of Errors’ after its publisher.  It has pre-sale estimate of £1,000-£1,500.

Other lots in the sale include:

  • A first ‘Atlas’ edition of Expédition Scientifique en Mésopotame by Jules Oppert dating from 1854 (estimate £2,000-£2,500)
  • A two volume first edition of History of Persia by Sir John Malcolm dating from 1815 (estimate £1,200-£1,500)
  • A two volume extra-illustrated edition of Thomas Pennant’s Some Account of London dating from 1814 (estimate £1,200-£1,500)
  • A two volume edition of John Stowe’s A Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster dating from 1720 (estimate £2,500-£3,000)
  • A 1657 edition of Londinopolis by James Howell, including an engraving of a vista of the city shortly before the Great Fire of London (estimate £500-£600)

“This is a wide-ranging and very interesting Book Sale,” said Andrew Lindsay Bullock, head of books at Keys.  “It has many fascinating early volumes which will grab the attention of the more serious collector, as well as some more modern first editions which will be of equal interest to a much wider audience.

“The attention which the Beano annual attracted last year shows that interest in rare volumes and first editions goes wider than many would think, and we are expecting strong interest from dealers, collectors and more casual buyers for the two day sale.”

Keys two day Book Sale takes place on Thursday 11th and Friday 12th April at the firm’s salerooms in Aylsham, Norfolk.  Full details are available at www.keysauctions.co.uk.