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ALICE IN AUCTIONLAND

Record prices for Lewis Carroll, Rare Early Juvenilia and Virginia Woolf

Our final sale of the year of Children's & Illustrated Books on 15 December was a memorable one for the large number of rarities featured, and the record prices achieved.

A major highlight of the sale was the impressive array of Lewis Carroll books and printed ephemera from a private collection, including inscribed first editions, autograph letters and rare ephemeral items. The collection was formed over a lifetime by Anthony Beale (1932-2011) and was considered one of the finest Lewis Carroll collections in private hands in the UK. Just one of the many lots which generated fierce bidding was the extremely rare pamphlet 'Lawn Tennis Tournaments' (1883), in which Lewis Carroll offers a new set of rules for the game of tennis, following the appearance of the first official rule book of tennis by Major Wingfield in 1875. This 9-page booklet brought a magnificent world record price of £4,600 on the hammer.

Another exciting collection offered in the sale was that of the collector and historian of early children's books Percy H. Muir (1894-1979), many dating from the first half of the 19th century. Items offered included a number of rare peepshows, as well as books, toys and games. The very rare optical toy 'Der Augenpunckt' fetched £2,400, despite being incomplete.

An almost pristine copy of the first privately printed edition of 'The Tailor of Gloucester' made £4,200. The appeal of this wonderfully-preserved copy was further enhanced by the fact that it was given to the owner by the Beatrix Potter author and bibliographer Leslie Linder.

A handwritten manuscript copy by Dante Gabriel Rossetti of his long poem 'The White Ship', which had once belonged to Alice Boyd (1825-1897), 14th Laird of Penkill Castle, where Rossetti was a regular visitor, fetched £6,700 on the hammer.

An important association copy of Virginia Woolf's 'Mrs. Dalloway', though without its dust-wrapper, soared to £15,500. Inscribed by the author to the flamboyant Bloomsbury hostess Ottoline Morrell, the inscription is particularly apposite given that it is generally accepted that the book describes the social world of Lady Ottoline and her husband Philip Morrell, and is generally regarded as one of Woolf's most successful stream-of-consciousness novels.

The sale also demonstrated that the word 'google' pre-dates Google! A small archive of material relating to Vincent Cartwright Vickers (1879-1939), a member of the well-known armaments family, and being sold by Vickers's great grandson, caused quite a stir. Items included the author's own copy of his limited edition 'Google Book' [1913], which made £3,000, and a number of related original watercolours of his mythical Google birds (the striking image pictured made £1,650).

Date: 21 December 2016

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