This is an original drawing of the final book illustration of Pooh and Piglet in the Hundred Acre Wood from A.A. Milne's first book about Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926). The original initialled pen and ink drawing from 1925 that was reproduced in the first edition of the book was sold by Bonham’s, New York, for $220,000 (13 December 2022). That one is arguably the most important Winnie-the-pooh drawing in existence.
This later and virtually identical signed pen and ink drawing of the same scene is dated 1958 and was recently discovered in the collection of the late Christopher Foyle of Beeleigh Abbey, near Maldon in Essex.
Christopher was the grandson of William Foyle, co-founder of the famous London bookshop with his brother Gilbert. William was a great bibliophile and amassed a huge library, famously sold by Christie’s in 2001 for £12.6 million, after the death of his daughter Christina. Christopher was Christina’s nephew and he was able to buy a lot of the books before they went to auction, as well as adding to the collection in the same beautiful library room at Beeleigh Abbey over the next 20 years.
Far from being proudly displayed on a library wall, this drawing was stumbled across by Christopher’s widow Cathy, hiding in a cheap frame, wrapped in a tea towel at the back of a cellar drawer, where it seems to have languished for decades.
We see reproductions of this famous drawing from time to time, which have no commercial value, so we were delighted and amazed to be able to authenticate this immediately and save it from being thrown out to charity as a cheap print.
Both A.A. Milne and Ernest H. Shepard came to resent Winnie-the-Pooh, feeling the bear overshadowed their other work. Drawn at the age of 79 this may be the last time that Shepard ever re-drew this iconic picture, the final scene just before Pooh and Piglet turn back into toys. Besides the historically important original one sold last year no other Shepard drawings of this image coming on the market have been traced.
The drawing is not dedicated to anyone but seems likely to have been done for a specific person or event. Perhaps it was drawn in connection with one of Christina Foyle’s famous Literary Lunches which hundreds of authors and celebrities attended over many decades.
Shepard would draw in pencil before going over the drawing in india ink and then rubbing out the pencil. There are traces of pencil still visible in this drawing showing that it was done with the same love and care as any of his original Pooh drawings.
The drawing, estimated at £20,000-30,000, will be included with 400 other lots of magnificent books, manuscripts documents and pictures from the Foyle Library, the earliest dating back to the 13th century. The taped frame and tea towel the picture was found in will be available to the successful bidder.
Online catalogues for Part I will be on the website from Friday 8 September and in print from 11 September. Printed catalogues for both parts can be had for: £30 (UK), £40 (Europe), £60 (Rest of World).
Here is a video clip about this lot:
Specialists in charge: Nathan Winter & Chris Albury.
All enquiries please to: FoyleLibrary@dominicwinter.co.uk