Unique collection of first edition books from Wind in the Willows and Gulliver’s Travels illustrator is auctioned

Arthur Rackham

Arthur Rackham - Credit: Archant

A one off collection of first edition books by the celebrated 20th century illustrator Arthur Rackham goes under the hammer at Sworders’ Fine Art Auctioneers next week.

A Christmas Carol vignette

A Christmas Carol vignette - Credit: Archant

The collection is expected to fetch up to £30,000 and contains 26 books – all first editions.

Twenty-one of them are signed and inscribed with humorous pen and ink drawings by Rackham. He was widely regarded as one of the leading illustrators in the first 20 years of the last century when high quality illustrated books were in great demand in what was considered to be the ‘golden age’ of such work.

The books were all given as presents to his wife’s sister and her husband, and handed down through the family who live on the Essex/Hertfordshire border. Each book has a cloth cover with gilt embossed titles and all are in a good condition.

They’re being auctioned at the Books, Prints and Maps sale on Tuesday, November 12 at Sworders’ auction rooms in Stansted Mountfitchet.


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Sworders’ managing director, Guy Schooling said: “We are very excited to be selling what we believe to be a unique collection of books. The vignettes are absolutely exquisite. They’re of a high quality and packed with humour. It’s a rare find.”

The books are being auctioned separately and prices range from £800 to £1,500.

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Since his death in 1939 Rackham’s work has grown in popularity and his images have been widely used in the greeting card industry. His original drawings are highly sought after and there is expected to be a lot of interest in the auction next week. He illustrated classics such as A Christmas Carol, Wind in the Willows, and Gulliver’s Travels.

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