Collectors owe much to famous writers of children’s literature
Since the start of the 20th century the world has been blessed by stories and invented characters for children.
Stories by writers like Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit), JM Barrie (Peter Pan), Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Enid Blyton (The Famous Five), Rudyard Kipling (Jungle Book) and JK Rowling (Harry Potter) are all woven into the pattern of childhood.
They seem blessed with longevity and able to survive the pressures of rapid cultural change. They will be enjoyed by our children’s’ children’s children!
Here’s a selection of some of the most popular collectables inspired by children’s literature and some price tags that you wouldn’t believe…
Figurines that fetch a fair price…
A first edition Peter Rabbit figurine can be worth as little as £20, yet a model of Little Piglet Robinson Spying, from Potter’s last published book based on the poem The Owl and the Pussycat could possibly be worth 10 times that.
Piglet Robinson is usually found in a walking mode, but there is also the ‘spying’ version. This model can be worth £200-£250 according to the figurine experts.
Another lucky find in the figurine market is this limited-edition Peter Pan, by the Spanish artists working for Lladro. This withdrawn in 1994 after a year in production, but it has become a sought-after piece because of the exquisite craftsmanship. Originally priced at about £75, on-line today, it’s valued at £460
It’s a Bunny business: A 50p coin on sale for £950
A recent trend is for the Royal Mint to issue specially struck 50p coins engraved superbly with characters from children’s literature.
Recently a 50p Benjamin Bunny sold on e-Bay for £950 leading to a lively debate about its true value with some quote sceptical others keen to express an interest.
The £2m price tag on a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
On June 17, 2016 a first edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland went to auction in New York. Valuers were confident it would fetch more than £2m because the last time one of these rare beauties came up for sale in 1998, it raised £1.54m.
The red cloth-bound edition of the children’s classic was pretty special. It was known as a “suppressed Alice” because only days after the first 2,000 copies were published in 1865, Carroll recalled them. According to his diary, he had intended to sell them as waste paper.
Lewis Carroll experts believe only 22 copies of that first edition survive and of those, six are held in private collections.
The reason why Carroll wanted the first edition dumped is part of the folklore surrounding the book. The artist who did the illustrations, Sir John Tenniel, was rather prissy and stamped his foot over what he thought was the poor quality of the printing!
Carroll was not too concerned but at considerable cost to himself, he bowed to Tenniel and ordered another 2,000 copies be printed hoping for a better quality print run.
Today those surviving inferior ‘suppressed Alice’ editions are regarded with such reverence that collectors would trade entire sections of their libraries just for one copy.
The hype surrounding the auction in 2016 proved to be misplaced. The edition failed to reach its reserve price and it was withdrawn.
However, an American edition described as “comprising some sheets of the suppressed 1865 printing” was spotted for sale on line with AbeBooks at a highly respectable asking price of £39,328.
Ripping yarns and lashings of ginger beer
Enid Blyton stories were used by generations of youngsters in their first adventures in reading and thanks to the nostalgia associated with her work, early editions of her books have collectors salivating.
Blyton’s home-spun stories of fifties life in private schools for girls and children’s adventures with a dog in Dorset are seen as not quite politically correct.
Why ‘PC’ Enid books might go up in value
An attempt by Hodder, the publisher of the Famous Five Series, to modernise the style of language, was abandoned in 2016 because it “didn’t go down well” with Enid Blyton fans.
It will be interesting to see if those copies published in the failed politically correct language project, surface in a few decades for auction for some astronomical sum!
Meanwhile it’s worth checking the attic and the book boxes in garages. The first story in the Famous Five collection, Five on Treasure Island, published in 1942 could be worth £1450, assuming it’s signed by Enid Blyton herself!
If you’re interested… we’ve just launched our very own Children’s Classics Collectables range including limited edition presentations featuring the new Peter Pan and Beatrix Potter 50ps. the Famous Five, an Alice in Wonderland Tea Set and a brand new Disney’s Elsa Music Carousel featuring a REAL Swarovski Crystal.