The fourth instalment from the Library of an English Bibliophile continued the previous successes of this sale series, which began in London in 2010 and continued in New York in 2011 and London in 2013. Featuring a fantastic selection of children’s books and illustrated works from the mid-19th century onwards, nearly all the major authors and artists in this much loved collecting category were well-represented.
The top lot of the sale was a presentation copy of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, inscribed by the author to Kitty Kilbride, who had been one of the author’s first students at Leeds University in 1920. This copy, preserved in an outstanding dust-jacket, achieved a price of £137,000, surpassing the previous auction record of £60,000 set in 2008 by more than double. Competition was also fierce for a set of first edition copies of The Lord of the Rings, which exceeded its top estimate to sell for £20,000.
The exceptional condition of the books offered led to strong results: a remarkably fine copy of the first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was sold for £25,000. Equally, the notable provenance of many lots was recognised, with a copy of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim from the library of John C. Eckel then Katharine de Berkeley Parsons selling for £8,125 against an estimate of £3,000 - £5,000. As ever, scarce and unique items performed well, with a charming autograph pictorial alphabet by Edward Lear sold for £60,000 and a rare signed limited edition copy of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince sold for £13,750.
Part IV of the Library of an English Bibliophile features a fantastic selection of children’s books and illustrated works from the mid-19th century onwards. Nearly all the major authors and artists in this much loved collecting category are well-represented, from a charming autograph pictorial alphabet by Edward Lear (c.1857) to the first edition of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997). As with previous sales in the series, the books are notable for their exceptional condition, often combined with distinguished provenance.