Peter Harrington is very pleased to announce the exhibition and sale of the most comprehensive collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books and artwork ever assembled. Including more than one hundred items gathered together over twenty years by American football legend Pat McInally, the collection includes fine examples of all the Pooh books, important inscribed copies, correspondence and photos, toys, and original artwork. This is not only the best Pooh collection ever to come to market, but a superb example of the art of collecting, and everything that a lifetime collection in a single field should be. Illustrated below are some of the highlights, including the stand-out piece, a presentation copy of Winnie-the-Pooh inscribed from Milne to both Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh. An exhibition of the material will be held in our gallery at 100 Fulham Road from Wednesday the 30th of November to Wednesday the 14th of December. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and paper or digital copies of the catalogue can be obtained by contacting us (copies of the catalogue are £20, plus shipping if overseas).
Above, a presentation copy of Winnie-the-Pooh inscribed by Milne to both his son and Winnie-the-Pooh, “For Moonest Moon and Poohest Pooh from their adoring Bluest Blue. Oct. 16th 1926”. Christopher Robin Milne was born on 21 August 1920 and quickly became one of the sources of inspiration for his father’s writing. “Moonest Moon” refers to his nickname, “Billy Moon”, which originated from his parents’ nickname for him (Billy) and his childish pronunciation of his surname. “Blue” was the elder Milne’s nickname, probably from the colour of his eyes, and because of his penchant for wearing blue clothing.
The toy bear was a top-of-the-range Alpha Farnell bought at Harrods for Christopher Milne’s first birthday, known initially as Edward or Edward Bear, then later rechristened Winnie-the-Pooh (after a favourite bear cub at London zoo). In later life Christopher Milne described Pooh as “‘the oldest [toy], only a year younger than I was, and my inseparable companion. As you find us in the poem ‘Us Two’, so we were in real life. Every child has his favourite toy, and every only-child has a special need for one. Pooh was mine, and probably, clasped in my arms, not really very different from the countless other bears clasped in the arms of countless other children” (Enchanted Places, pp. 76–79). Inscribed by the author to both Christopher Robin and his “inseparable companion”, this stunning association copy is arguably one of the most important children’s books in commerce, standing alongside only the copy of Alice in Wonderland inscribed to Alice Liddell.
The set pictured above includes fine first editions of all four of the Pooh books. Like most children’s books, the Pooh stories were usually read to pieces, and copies in such beautiful and fresh dust jackets are incredibly rare. This is the best set we have ever seen.
The collection includes a set of three first edition large-paper copies signed by the author and illustrator, each with a significant original illustration in ink by Shepard. Winnie-the-Pooh is illustrated on the verso of the front blank with a charming image of Christopher Robin in the bath as well as Pooh puzzling over the reverse of a bath mat. Now We Are Six is illustrated with an image of Christopher Robin resisting his nanny, who wields a hairbrush. Decorating the title page of The House at Pooh Corner is an illustration of Christopher Robin knighting a kneeling Pooh, from the poignant final chapter in which the boy says good-bye to his childhood friends. Only a handful of books with original drawings by Shepard have come to market over the years. These are the only large paper examples that we can find in sales records, and they are clearly drawn with the utmost care and attention, probably for commission. A spectacular and unique set.
These original photographs depict Christopher Robin Milne and Winnie-the-Pooh with grandfather John Vine Milne (1845–1932) who ran Henley House private school in Kilburn, remarkable for having (briefly) H. G. Wells as a science master and Alfred Harmsworth, later Lord Northcliffe, as a pupil; and, from 1894, Streete Court preparatory school in Westgate-on-Sea, Kent. A. A. Milne was a pupil at Henley House before winning a scholarship to Westminster School. Photos of this nature are extremely rare in commerce.
A hand-written letter from A. A. Milne to Ernest H. Shepard discussing the progress of the latest Pooh book and a potential collaboration on a volume of Mother Goose rhymes. Milne begins, “Dear Shepard, I enclose the latest Pooh. I saw the drawings of the first two at Methuens yesterday, and loved them”. Milne is referring to Winnie-the-Pooh, which was in production during the first half of 1926 and published on October 14th of that year. It appears that Shepard was illustrating individual chapters as Milne wrote them, here having completed drawings for two chapters and awaiting more text. Milne goes on to discuss the planned Mother Goose (which would not be completed). As evidenced by this letter, Milne had an unusually supportive relationship with his illustrator. Earlier that year he had offered Shepard a 20% stake in the royalties from Winnie-the-Pooh, an unprecedented move at the time (Thwaite pp. 296-297). Now his offer is even more generous, as he proposes “that we share 50/50″ of the Mother Goose royalties. A very nice letter providing a glimpse into one of the most important creative partnerships in children’s literature.
An impressive and detailed map of the Hundred Acre Wood, this is the only known preparatory drawing for the map that was used as the endpapers of Winnie-the-Pooh. Shortly after the publication of Milne’s first children’s book, When We Were Very Young, he purchased Cotchford Farm, located on the edge of the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, and it was this landscape that would inspire many of the Pooh stories. Although the geography was not revised between this initial sketch and the book’s publication, several captions were changed. “Eeyores Gloomy Place” was first “Eeyores Pasture Land” and “The Floody Place” was originally captioned “Floods Might Happen Here”. The caption at the foot originally appeared as “Drawn by Me helped by Mr Shepard” and shows a process of revision. Additionally, at the top of the map Shepard asks the question, “What sort of House is Kangas?” A beautiful working drawing of one of the most familiar landscapes of childhood.