Friday, March 4, 2016

Peter's gonna be getting pret-ty cocky. First a big reveal of a 50p Royal Mint coin, now a big-bid sale...

A rare privately printed edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, the book which would help make Beatrix Potter one of the most famous children’s authors of all time, is up for auction.

The tiny volume, complete with the bookplate of a former owner, the 6th Marquess of Bath – father of the present marquess, famous for his “wifelets” and his erotic paintings on the walls of his home at Longleat – is expected to fetch at least $25,000 (£17,700).

The 150th anniversary of Potter’s birth is being celebrated this year with events including the Royal Mint’s release of a Peter Rabbit 50p coin, the first UK coin to feature a character from children’s fiction.

Potter was earning a modest reputation as a natural history illustrator when she wrote the first version of the story of the recklessly brave Peter – who will not stay out of Mr McGregor’s vegetable patch despite the fate of his father who ended up in a pie – as a letter to cheer up a sick child, the son of a former governess. She based the illustrations on her detailed studies of her own pet rabbit.

In 1901 she made it into a book, and, when several publishers turned it down, had an edition of 250 copies privately printed. They were so popular that she had to order another 200. The following year the publisher Frederick Warne took on Peter and all her later books. Peter Rabbit alone has since sold more than 45m copies, in 36 languages including the Latin version, Fabula de Petro Cuniculo.

The copy is being sold by the rare book auction website The young marquess was evidently a careful child, as the book is described as “a little rubbed and some light foxing” but in excellent condition.

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