Sale of Printed Books and Manuscripts, 28 June 2011 at 11am

20/05/2011     Chiswick Curates

Dear Subscriber,

If you hear sounds of the farmyard issuing from our next sale of Printed Books and Manuscripts, don’t be alarmed – someone will be trying out the Speaking Picture Book. Printed in about 1890, this is more of a box than a book. By pulling and releasing cords on its side (those familiar with the ‘talking’ Action Man will know the principle) it produces remarkably lifelike sounds of birds and animals including a donkey, a sheep, a cow, a goat and a cuckoo, “to the great enjoyment of the little ones”. Another cord even reproduces, delightfully, the sound of the children calling for their ‘Mamma!’ and ‘Pappa!’ This is a rare survivor, particularly as it was made for children, and it is estimated at £300-500.

Another highlight of the sale is a collection of original drawings and engravings of London bridges, including some by renowned architect Sir Charles Barry. Having designed the Houses of Parliament in 1836, he was commissioned to ‘Gothicise’ Westminster Bridge shortly afterwards. Included in the section are two original drawings which contrast the original simple stone-built classical bridge with his fashionable new design intended to harmonise with the vast gothic pile taking shape on its northern side. The changes were carried out, and the bridge, with its wrought-iron detailing, looks remarkably similar to the bridge we know, and barely notice, today, so busy are we trying to take photos of Big Ben or buy ice creams. The two drawings are estimated at £200-300 and £300-500 respectively.

The continuing popularity of the Harry Potter books has been fuelled largely by the success of the film franchise, but it resulted in a good old-fashioned publishing phenomenon. The later titles of the Harry Potter series were printed in their millions, but it was all very different back in 1997 when J. K. Rowling, then a single mother living in a garret in Edinburgh (apparently), submitted her manuscript to publishers Bloomsbury. In order to gauge the reaction to the book by an unknown author, Bloomsbury printed just 200 ‘proof’ copies in paperback for review (complete with various typographical areas, including getting one of the author’s initials wrong). Our sale includes a fine copy of this Holy Grail for Harry Potter aficionados – the true first edition of The Philosopher’s Stone, and the first ever appearance of Harry Potter in print – and it is estimated at £1,500-2,000.

What else? We have a splendid set of Meyer’s extraordinarily dramatic pictures of fireworks and battle scenes engraved in Zurich between 1691 and 1791 (£800-1,200); sumptuously bound sets of Gibbon, Thackeray and Churchill (estimates ranging from £300-1,500); a magnificent 1788 map of Turkey and the Black Sea (£300-500) and another vast folding map of industrial Britain, dating from 1888 (£300-500); and a collection of original Disney and Warner Bros. animation cells featuring, amongst others, Pluto, Sylvester and Tweety, and that delightful national stereotype, Scrooge McDuck (don’t pretend you haven’t heard of him).

Finally, the sale will also include books from the Library of celebrated photographer Zoe Dominic (1920-2011) who will perhaps be best remembered for her iconic images of Maria Callas, Rudolf Nureyev, Margot Fonteyn, Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, amongst many others. The collection consists mainly of illustrated and photographic books, many inscribed.

If you would like to consign to this exciting sale, we require entries by the end of the first week of June. You can contact me directly on for a free valuation without obligation. You can order printed catalogues from Chiswick Auctions on 020 8992 4442 or view the sale (2 weeks prior to the sale date) at

I look forward to seeing you at the farmyard!

Nicholas Worskett,  Book Specialist    07746 713928