Peter Rabbit first edition tops Ottignon collection at $30,000

A first edition copy of The Tale of Peter Rabbit saw the highest bids as Mark Ottignon's collection of Beatrix Potter memorabilia sold on February 27 in London.

Peter Rabbit First Edition book
The pinnacle of any Beatrix Potter collection, the author's first private print of her first book

The collection is one of the most impressive holdings of "Potteriana" ever to have appeared at auction, spanning first edition books to figurines and Wedgwood pottery. The first edition, a key component of any discerning Beatrix Potter collection, sold for £20,000 ($30,253).

The edition at auction is one of just 250 private prints, which Potter commissioned herself after numerous failed attempts at attracting a publisher. The book, given mainly to family and friends, was an instant success and led to publisher Frederick Warne & Co offering to reproduce it with full colour plates throughout.

Following this sale was the even scarcer first edition, second issue of Potter's private prints, which she commissioned to meet demand for her popular new work. One of just 200 copies made, it sold for £12,000 ($18,151).

Potter's books dominated the sale, with a first English edition of The Fairy Caravan selling 11.1% above its £9,000 high estimate at £10,000 ($15,126). Numbered 20 of 100 by the author on the front pastedown, and featuring a gift inscription on the front free endpaper, the work contains six colour plates, plain vignettes and full-page illustrations.

It sold complete with photographs and correspondence from Mr and Mrs Wight of Newby Bridge, who were friends with Potter and included their own notes on The Fairy Caravan within its pages.

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