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Potter, Beatrix

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Potter, Beatrix

Rare books by Beatrix Potter, including first editions, signed first editions and finely bound copies.

As a child, Beatrix Potter (1866–1943) was fascinated by nature, using her considerable artistic talent to paint animal and plants. In 1893 she sent a sequence of illustrated letters about a naughty rabbit to the children of her former governess, and their delight led her to submit the story for publication. Although it was turned down, she had 250 copies published privately in December 1901 for distribution to friends. Simply titled Peter Rabbit and illustrated with line drawings, the book’s popularity was such that another printing of 200 copies was required by February 1902, and in the same year Frederick Warne & Co. agreed to publish it with new colour illustrations. Eight thousand copies of this first trade edition were printed in October 1902, to be followed by a further 21 storybooks, all illustrated by the author.

Beatrix Potter showed an avid interest in the design of her books, and herself designed deluxe bindings for her books, which would be sold at a higher price than the regular trade edition at the time and still command a premium from collectors today.

Reprints of Beatrix Potter's works usually resemble the original first editions in almost every detail, and can be hard to distinguish from them. The key points to look for are:

(a) the first editions are usually dated in the imprint at the foot of the title page, on the front (recto) of the leaf. The copyright date on the back (verso) will show the first date of publication, but this alone is not indicative of first edition status. Later printings have no date in the imprint.

(b) her publisher Frederick Warne became a limited company in 1917, after the great majority of her best-known books had been first published. Therefore, most books with "Limited" or "Ltd" in the company name, either in the imprint or on the front cover, are published in or after 1917 and are reprints.

(c) any edition bearing an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) was issued after 1967.

With one or two exceptions, only first edition, first impressions, in the original publisher's bindings have significant value.

Read our blog post about first editions of Peter Rabbit.

Video: Senior specialist Adam Douglas presents a charming first, privately printed edition of this children's classic.

Rare books by Beatrix Potter, including first editions, signed first editions and finely bound copies.

As a child, Beatrix Potter (1866–1943) was fascinated by nature, using her considerable artistic talent to paint animal and plants. In 1893 she sent a sequence of illustrated letters about a naughty rabbit to the children of her former governess, and their delight led her to submit the story for publication. Although it was turned down, she had 250 copies published privately in December 1901 for distribution to friends. Simply titled Peter Rabbit and illustrated with line drawings, the book’s popularity was such that another printing of 200 copies was required by February 1902, and in the same year Frederick Warne & Co. agreed to publish it with new colour illustrations. Eight thousand copies of this first trade edition were printed in October 1902, to be followed by a further 21 storybooks, all illustrated by the author.

Beatrix Potter showed an avid interest in the design of her books, and herself designed deluxe bindings for her books, which would be sold at a higher price than the regular trade edition at the time and still command a premium from collectors today.

Reprints of Beatrix Potter's works usually resemble the original first editions in almost every detail, and can be hard to distinguish from them. The key points to look for are:

(a) the first editions are usually dated in the imprint at the foot of the title page, on the front (recto) of the leaf. The copyright date on the back (verso) will show the first date of publication, but this alone is not indicative of first edition status. Later printings have no date in the imprint.

(b) her publisher Frederick Warne became a limited company in 1917, after the great majority of her best-known books had been first published. Therefore, most books with "Limited" or "Ltd" in the company name, either in the imprint or on the front cover, are published in or after 1917 and are reprints.

(c) any edition bearing an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) was issued after 1967.

With one or two exceptions, only first edition, first impressions, in the original publisher's bindings have significant value.

Read our blog post about first editions of Peter Rabbit.

Video: Senior specialist Adam Douglas presents a charming first, privately printed edition of this children's classic.

Displaying 48 out of 106

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  1. A Happy Pair.
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    (POTTER, Beatrix.) WEATHERLY, Frederic E.

    A Happy Pair. [1890]

    £30,000

    First edition of the first book illustrated by Beatrix Potter. Extremely scarce, with just five copies traced institutionally, it features six of her illustrations accompanying a set of six poems by Frederic E. Weatherly (best known as the author of the lyrics for “Danny Boy”). … Read more

  2. Changing Pictures: A Book of Transformation Pictures.
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    (POTTER, Beatrix.)

    Changing Pictures: A Book of Transformation Pictures. [1893]

    £1,500

    First edition, the preferred variant with Potter’s signature to the cover illustration. This is one of the earliest appearances in print of a book illustration by Beatrix Potter, preceded only by A Happy Pair: she designed one of the three chromolithograph illustrations to the front … Read more

  3. Changing Pictures: A Book of Transformation Pictures.
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    [POTTER, Beatrix.]

    Changing Pictures: A Book of Transformation Pictures. [1893]

    £500

    First edition. This issue without Potter’s signature to the cover illustration. Read more

  4. Comical Customers.
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    (POTTER, Beatrix.)

    Comical Customers. [1896]

    £3,000

    First edition. With nine line drawings by Potter (signed HBP), featuring her frog illustrations accompanying the verse “A Frog he would a fishing go” by Clifton Bingham. The book also contains a separate full page illustration of “Squintina Tabby” to accompany “The Story of … Read more

  5. Nister’s Holiday Annual 1896.
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    (POTTER, Beatrix.)

    Nister’s Holiday Annual 1896. 1896

    £2,500

    First edition. With nine line drawings by Potter (signed HBP), featuring her frog illustrations accompanying the verse “A Frog he would a fishing go” by Clifton Bingham. Potter’s frog illustrations appeared in two collections by Nister this year: Comical Customers and the Holiday Annual. The … Read more

  6. Original manuscript with drawings: “La Chanson de la mariée”.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    Original manuscript with drawings: “La Chanson de la mariée”. [c.1896]

    £30,000

    The illustrated French poem is identified as the work of Beatrix Potter by the accompanying note written by an executor of the artist, stating that “the enclosed poem is an example of fine copying done on notepaper by Beatrix Potter (from her portfolios at Sawrey, … Read more

  7. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit. December 1901]

    £75,000

    First edition, first impression. The first of her small format books to be published, The Tale of Peter Rabbit was developed from a picture letter sent to Noel Moore on 4 September 1893. In 1900, Potter thought it might make a small book, and contacted … Read more

  8. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit. 1902

    £17,500

    First (privately printed) edition, second printing. One of 200 copies printed. The first printing was issued in December 1901 in a edition of 250 copies. The tale of Peter Rabbit was developed from a picture letter sent to Noel Moore on 4 September 1893. A … Read more

  9. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit. [1902]

    £6,750

    First trade edition. Warne had reconsidered the “Bunny book”, as they called it, following a second approach from Potter’s friend Hardwicke Rawnsley, an author of children’s verses who had rewritten the text in his own style. Warne were now prepared to publish it (though in … Read more

  10. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit. [1902]

    £12,500

    First trade edition, deluxe issue. It is believed to be one of 2,000 copies issued in cloth from the first 8,000; there were two colours for the deluxe issue, yellow and green. Regular copies were issued in printed boards. With the original leaf-pattern endpapers and … Read more

  11. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit. [1902]

    £8,750

    First trade edition, second or third impression (the green boards were introduced after the first impression; in all other respects the three impressions are indistinguishable). With the original leaf-pattern endpapers and with “wept big tears” on p. 51 (the text reads “cried big tears” in … Read more

  12. The Tailor of Gloucester.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tailor of Gloucester. 1902

    £6,750

    First edition, first impression, one of 500 copies privately printed for the author a year before Warne’s trade edition, issued in the same month and in a similar format to the second privately-printed Peter Rabbit. The text of this edition is considerably longer than that … Read more

  13. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit. 1902

    £35,000

    First edition, second impression, one of 200 copies. Presentation copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper: “For J. Squire, from Miss Potter. March 26, 1902.” A significant inscription, uniting her lesser known work as an amateur mycologist and scientific artist with her … Read more

  14. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit. 1902

    £20,000

    First edition, second impression, one of 200 copies. Aside from the date on the title page, the most immediately obvious difference from the first is that the spine of the second impression is rounded, rather than flat. The text and illustrations are unchanged. Read more

  15. The Tailor of Gloucester.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tailor of Gloucester. 1903

    £9,500

    First edition, first impression, deluxe issue, in an unrecorded morocco binding, apparently a publisher’s binding, although not lettered as such. Bound in before the frontispiece is the extra illustration intended for the front cover label of regular copies. With the first impression points: the single … Read more

  16. The Tailor of Gloucester.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tailor of Gloucester. 1903

    £5,000

    First edition, first impression, deluxe binding. The first deluxe binding of Peter Rabbit, issued in two colours (yellow and green) was rather plain and not particularly popular, so Warne suggested the use of brocade for the next book. Potter obtained some samples of patterned cloth … Read more

  17. The Tailor of Gloucester.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tailor of Gloucester. 1903

    £1,750

    First trade edition, first impression, with a single-page pictorial endpaper occurring four times, which was replaced with doublepage endpapers in later impressions. Eleven of the illustrations are repeated from the privately-printed edition and 16 are entirely new for this edition. This trade edition was published … Read more

  18. The Tailor of Gloucester.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tailor of Gloucester. 1903

    £450

    First trade edition, second impression, with the double-page endpaper occurring twice, and 1903 appearing on the title page. Read more

  19. The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. 1903

    £500

    First edition, third impression, with the relevant issue points: the date of 1903 and the words “Author of the Tale of Peter Rabbit” on the title page. Read more

  20. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit. [1902]

    £575

    An early edition with the original leaf-pattern endpapers. Read more

  21. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. 1904

    £15,000

    First edition, deluxe issue, first impression, with the following issue points: “muffatees” (as opposed to “muffetees” in second issue onward), “we” in Roman type (as opposed to italics in second issue onward) on page 15. Read more

  22. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. 1904

    £1,000

    First edition, first impression, with the following issue points: “muffatees” (as opposed to “muffetees” in second issue onward), “we” in Roman type (as opposed to italics in second issue onward) on page 15, and issued in both grey and tan paper boards, with no priority … Read more

  23. The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin. 1904

    £3,500

    Second deluxe issue, bound with the 1904 endpaper design. This design was introduced in October 1904, replacing the first binding of floral fabric. It formed the model for all future deluxe bindings in the series. Read more

  24. The Tale of Two Bad Mice.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Two Bad Mice. 1904

    £6,000

    First edition, deluxe issue, in red cloth. Read more

  25. The Tale of Two Bad Mice.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Two Bad Mice. 1904

    £4,500

    First edition. The first two impressions are indistinguishable; both are dated 1904 on the title page. The doll’s house featured in the story was based on one made by Norman Warne for his niece Winifred, the daughter of the middle Warne brother, Fruing. Read more

  26. The Tale of Two Bad Mice.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Two Bad Mice. 1904

    £6,000

    First edition, deluxe issue. The Mildred Greenhill–Bradley Martin copy, in pink cloth. Read more

  27. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. 1904

    £1,250

    First edition, first impression, with “muffatees” (“muffetees” in the second impression onward) and “we” in Roman type (italics in the second impression onward) on page 15. The regular trade binding of the first impression was either grey or tan paper boards, with no priority between … Read more

  28. The Tailor of Gloucester.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tailor of Gloucester. 1903 [but 1904]

    £3,750

    First edition, first impression, second deluxe binding. This deluxe binding was introduced in October 1904, replacing the first deluxe binding of art fabric, which was complex to construct; this copy has first edition sheets with the new endpaper design introduced in 1904. Read more

  29. The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. 1905

    £400

    First edition, first impression. Charmingly bound. Read more

  30. The Pie and the Patty-Pan
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Pie and the Patty-Pan 1905

    £750

    First edition, first impression, with lilac endpapers. Read more

  31. The Pie and the Patty-Pan.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Pie and the Patty-Pan. 1905

    £750

    First edition, first impression, with pale purple endpapers and 1905 to the title page. Read more

  32. The Pie and the Patty-Pan.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Pie and the Patty-Pan. 1905

    £750

    First edition, first impression, with pale purple endpapers and 1905 to the title page. Read more

  33. The Tale of Benjamin Bunny.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Benjamin Bunny. 1905

    £400

    First edition, third issue. Potter’s introduction of Peter Rabbit’s cousin Benjamin is the fourth of her books to be published. Read more

  34. The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. 1905

    £6,000

    First edition. The first two impressions are indistinguishable. This is one of the books which originated from Potter’s 1903 Derwentwater sketchbook. Read more

  35. The Pie and the Patty-Pan.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Pie and the Patty-Pan. 1905

    £950

    First edition, first impression. This was the last book Norman Warne had discussed with Potter, published in a larger format. Potter completed the project alone; it was published two months after his death. The illustrated endpapers, introduced the previous year, were forgotten; the book appeared … Read more

  36. The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. 1905

    £3,500

    First edition, deluxe issue. Read more

  37. The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. 1905

    £400

    First edition, first impression. Charmingly bound. Read more

  38. The Tale of Jeremy Fisher.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Jeremy Fisher. 1906

    £6,500

    First edition. The first two impressions are indistinguishable. Shortly after Norman Warne’s death, Potter determined to see The Tale of Jeremy Fisher finally published. She had raised the project with Norman after the publication of Peter Rabbit – “I should like to do Mr Jeremy … Read more

  39. The Story of Miss Moppet.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Story of Miss Moppet. 1906

    £1,250

    First edition, first issue (with “London & New York” on rear cover). Read more

  40. The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit. 1906

    £1,500

    First edition, first issue, with “London & New York” on the rear cover, in the usual green wallet case binding. Read more

  41. The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit. 1906

    £700

    First edition, second issue, with “New York & London” on the rear cover, published in December, a month after the first issue. Read more

  42. The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit. 1906

    £600

    First edition, second issue, with “New York & London” on the rear cover, published in December, a month after the first issue. Read more

  43. The Story of Miss Moppet.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Story of Miss Moppet. 1906

    £1,500

    First edition, first issue (with “London & New York” on rear cover). “At the beginning of 1906 when working on The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher, Beatrix Potter was also planning some stories for very young children. Each story contained fourteen pictures and fourteen pages … Read more

  44. The Tale of Jeremy Fisher.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Jeremy Fisher. 1906

    £3,750

    First edition, deluxe issue. The first two impressions are indistinguishable. Read more

  45. The Tale of Tom Kitten.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Tom Kitten. 1907

    £8,500

    First edition, deluxe issue. One of the scarcest deluxe editions, with just one copy of this first issue appearing at auction since 1975. Later issues have later endpapers. Read more

  46. The Tale of Tom Kitten.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Tom Kitten. 1907

    £4,500

    First edition. The first three impressions are indistinguishable. Having bought a working farm, Hill Top, in 1905, Potter’s life in the Lake District increasingly influenced her stories. The first of these was based on the new kitten at Belle Green, where Potter stayed with the … Read more

  47. The Tale of Jeremy Fisher.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Jeremy Fisher. [1907]

    £500

    First edition, third impression (September 1907). Without 1906 to the title page (present in the first two printings), and bound with the 1907 endpaper design which was introduced for the first edition of The Tale of Tom Kitten that same month. Read more

  48. The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck. 1908

    £7,500

    First edition, in the first issue dust jacket listing only books published prior to 1908 and with the price of 1/- on the spine panel. (The first three impressions are indistinguishable, so the presence of the jacket is crucial in this instance.) Read more

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