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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 26 out of 26

  1. 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

  2. The Tailor of Gloucester.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tailor of Gloucester. 1902

    £4,500

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

  3. The Tailor of Gloucester.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tailor of Gloucester. 1903

    £475

    First trade edition. This edition was preceded by one of 500 copies privately printed for the author. Charmingly bound. Read more

  4. 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

  5. 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

  6. The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of the Pie and the Patty-Pan. 1905

    £375

    First edition, first impression. Read more

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

    The Story of A Fierce Bad Rabbit. 1906

    £2,000

    First edition, first issue, with “London & New York” on the rear cover. Shops were reluctant to stock this and Miss Moppet, the only other book by Potter published in this form, because they are awkward for small hands to handle and easily damaged. Both … Read more

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

    The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck. 1908

    £475

    First edition, presumed first impression (although the first three impressions are identical). Read more

  9. The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies. 1909

    £800

    First edition. The first two printings are identical. Read more

  10. The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse. 1910

    £800

    First edition. The first two printings are identical. Read more

  11. The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes.
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    POTTER, Helen Beatrix.

    The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes. 1911

    £2,750

    First edition, first printing. An excellent copy in the very rare publisher’s glassine dust jacket. The story of Timmy and Goody Tiptoes is the only Beatrix Potter story apparently set in North America – although this is implicit rather than stated anywhere in the book. … Read more

  12. The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes. 1911

    £700

    First edition. Read more

  13. The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Timmy Tiptoes. 1911

    £750

    First edition. The first two printings are believed to be identical. The story of Timmy and Goody Tiptoes is the only Beatrix Potter story apparently set in North America – although this is implicit rather than stated anywhere in the book. All the main animal … Read more

  14. The Tale of Mr. Tod.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Mr. Tod. 1912

    £750

    First edition. Read more

  15. The Tale of Pigling Bland.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Pigling Bland. 1913

    £450

    First edition. The first two printings are identical. Read more

  16. The Tale of Pigling Bland.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Pigling Bland. 1913

    £3,000

    First edition (the first two printings are identical). Extremely scarce in the jacket. Read more

  17. The Tale of Pigling Bland.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Pigling Bland. 1913

    £375

    First edition. The first two printings are identical. Read more

  18. The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit. [1916]

    £400

    First edition in book form. This was first published in 1906 in a wallet style format. Read more

  19. Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    Appley Dapply’s Nursery Rhymes. 1917

    £375

    First edition, first impression. Read more

  20. The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse. 1918

    £895

    First edition, first impression with the ‘N’ dropped from London on the title page. Read more

  21. The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse. 1918

    £2,000

    First edition, first printing with the ‘N’ dropped from London on the title page. Read more

  22. The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse. 1918

    £1,500

    First edition, first impression with the ‘N’ dropped from London on the title page. Read more

  23. Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    Cecily Parsley’s Nursery Rhymes. [1922]

    £400

    First edition, first impression. Read more

  24. The Fairy Caravan.
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    [POTTER, Beatrix.] HEELIS, Beatrix.

    The Fairy Caravan. 1929

    £12,000

    Signed limited edition, number 48 of 100 copies signed by the author. The bibliographic story of this book is strangely charming and endearingly amateurish. Potter considered this story of a miniature animal-run travelling circus as “too personal [and] autobiographical” for her comfortably to allow publication … Read more

  25. The Tale of Little Pig Robinson.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    The Tale of Little Pig Robinson. 1930

    £375

    First edition, first impression. Read more

  26. Wag-by-Wall.
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    POTTER, Beatrix.

    Wag-by-Wall. 1944

    £1,500

    First edition in book form, number 23 from a limited edition of only 100 copies. Beatrix Potter wrote this Christmas story in 1909 as “The Little Black Kettle” and put it aside. She picked up the story again in 1929 and rewrote it as part … Read more

Displaying 26 out of 26