Beatrix Potter's Happy Pair to cross the block at Swann Galleries

A rare copy of A Happy Pair, the first book Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) ever illustrated, is valued at $18,000-25,000 ahead of a sale at Swann Galleries in New York.

The book was issued in 1890, almost 10 years before she published Peter Rabbit.

Beatrix Potter Happy Pair
Beatrix Potter's A Happy Pair predates her better known work by almost 10 years

It came about as a collaboration with writer Weatherly Frederic (author of the lyrics to hit early 20th century ballad Danny Boy) and consists of six drawings backed up with text.

Potter documented in her journal her first attempt to draw her rabbit, Bounce, from life for the book:  "My first act was to give Bounce ... a cupful of hemp seeds, the consequence being that when I wanted to draw him the next morning he was partially intoxicated and wholly unmanageable"

A first edition copy of James Joyce's Ulysses (1922) is valued at $15,000-20,000.

The book was issued a run of 1,000 and is one of 750 unsigned copies printed by Parisian publisher Shakespeare & Company on low-grade paper.       

Today the book is feted as one of the greatest achievements in the history of literature, but at the time was dogged by controversy due to its sexual content.

Copies have grown in value at a rate of 11% pa over the past 10 years according to the PFC40 First edition Books Index.

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