With the festive season almost upon us, now is the time to be thinking about Christmas. Books have always been a favourite amongst gift givers, and are the perfect present for the bibliophiles amongst your friends and family. Our sister company, Forum Auctions, have their auction 'Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper' on 1 December. Conveniently just in time for Christmas, here we take a look at some of the wonderful works they have on offer.
A staple part of the Christmas meal is the traditional plum pudding. In this satirical work by James Gillray, The Plumb-pudding in danger or State Epicures taking un Petit Souper, Napoleon Bonaparte and William Pitt face each other across a steaming 'plum-pudding' globe. Both are intent on carving themselves a substantial portion of the world. This is the most famous of all Gillray's satirical caricatures, if not the most famous of all political cartoons.
There is then Christmas 1993 or Santa's Last Ride: An absolutely amazing Christmas Story by Errol Le Cain and illustrated by Leslie Bricusse. Signed by the author and artist, this is number 3 of 10 special copies. It comes with an original watercolour drawing showing the elves welcoming Father Christmas home. It appears as part of the frontispiece to the book titled 'To be back home in time for tea'.
What better gift than a Dicken's classic Christmas tale? The auction includes a first edition of A Christmas Carol, published in 1843 by Chapman & Hall. This renowned Victorian novella telling the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, features four hand-coloured etched plates by and after John Leech, with a further four plain woodcut vignettes by William James Linton after Leech.
Round off your Christmas Day with some games in the post-lunch downtime. Lot 349 is the card game The Characters of Charles Dickens, produced by Jaques & Son of Hatton Garden, circa 1870. The 52 cards consist of 13 groups of four characters from the works of Dickens. Of these 13 groups, ten feature an image and description of characters from Oliver Twist, Barnaby Rudge, Curiosity Shop (sic), Chuzzlewit, Pickwick, Dombey & Son, The Chimes, Cricket on the Hearth, The Haunted Man and Bleak House; while the other three feature text only for Little Dorrit, David Copperfield and The Christmas Books.
This set is rare with WorldCat recording only two sets (Harvard and Chicago). Forum Auctions can trace only one other set at auction, which they sold earlier this year.
Perhaps the single most important work of fantasy literature of the twentieth century is J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Forum Auctions will be offering first editions of these three volumes.
The conception of The Lord of the Rings began before that of The Hobbit, which was published nearly twenty years earlier, and it took fourteen years of writing to take shape, earning it the accolade in a Telegraph piece on Tolkien's work printed in 1968 of "the slowest-developing bestseller in modern publishing history". When offered to Stanley Unwin in 1954, it is recorded that they considered it an enormous risk as it was so large that it would have to be published in three volumes, retailing at a guinea each, but they pressed ahead convinced "it's a work of genius". Its success was immediate, and it has remained relevant for every generation of readers since its release.
Also from the fantasy genre is a first edition of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones. This is a fine copy of the true first edition of the first in the A Song of Ice and Fire Series.
There is a fantastic selection of children's books including some true classics. A favourite is The Tiger who came to tea, written and illustrated by Judith Kerr. This was Kerr's first book and her most beloved. This copy is rare, especially so in the dust-jacket. Forum Auctions can trace only one such example at auction and cannot find any copies available online.
There is also a first edition of Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is a superb example of this famous children's rarity. Though reprinted thousands of times and ultimately selling tens of millions of copies, first editions of The Very Hungry Caterpillar are rare in the dust-jacket in good condition. All but one known copy in the dust-jacket are price-clipped and this was likely undertaken by the publisher's themselves prior to release.
For fans of Roald Dahl's books, there is a first edition of his classic children's novel Matilda, illustrated by Quentin Blake. This is a rare signed copy, bearing the inscription "To Nicholas and Susannah love Roald Dahl". The book has been adapted twice for the cinema, including a new musical adaptation based in the successful West End production.
There is also a first American edition of Danny The Champion of the World. This is an interesting association copy of Dahl's classic tale of a poacher and his son. It is inscribed by the author to Roger Whittall, "To Roger, the great Mr. Fox, with love, Roald Dahl, 12 May 1976". Whittall played Mr. Fox in the 1976 production which was attended by the author.
Amongst the more contemporary works are first editions of Room on the Broom and The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson. Both copies are signed by Donaldson and the illustrator Axel Scheffler, along with a doodle relating to their respective titles.
Thursday 1 December | 10.30am GMT
Forum Auctions, 4 Ingate Place, Battersea, London SW8 3NS
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