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Beatrix Potter First Editions

View the first edition children's books by Beatrix Potter available at Shapero.

 

Born during the Victorian era to wealthy and well-connected parents, English children’s author and illustrator, botanist and conservationist Beatrix Potter led a largely solitary childhood. To make up for the lack of company she began to sketch and make up stories about her pet rabbits and her parents seeing her talent paid for art lessons.

She was fascinated by natural history and would spend many hours drawing wildlife such as fungi and flowers, before turning her hand to illustration for children’s books published by Nister & Dutton, wherein prototypes for many of the characters from Peter Rabbit & Friends can be found, including Jeremy Fisher (‘A Frog he would a fishing Go’, Nister’s Holiday Annual 1896). The first rare Beatrix Potter book to solely feature illustrations by her is the ‘The Happy Pair’ (c.1890), which alongside many of her more ephemeral illustrated pieces from that time are highly sought after and can fetch in excess of £15,000 in good original condition.

Encouraged by the reception her hand-done ‘picture-letters’ had received from the young recipients, Beatrix Potter turned her hand to writing & illustrating her own children’s books. She struggled initially to find a publisher, and instead privately printed her first two books ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ (1901) and ‘The Tailor of Gloucester’ (1902), experimenting with new colour printing processes and managing every aspect of the books’ production. Publishers Frederick Warne & Co. were so impressed they decided to take a chance on the budding author, now 36 years old.
The Warnes did not have much hope it would sell many copies; they actually gave the project to their youngest brother, Norman, as a kind of test for his first project. However, Norman proved to be a good choice. He warmed to both the book and Beatrix.

He was determined to make a success of the book and developed a good working relationship with Beatrix as they pored over the individual details of the book. It was Norman who insisted that the plates for the Warne editions of Peter Rabbit would still be in colour. Beatrix insisted that the book remain small so that it would be easy for children to hold. By the end of the year, 28,000 copies were in print and the rest as they say is history. Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books remain in print to this day, a phenomenon of children’s literature.

Beatrix Potter First Editions

First Edition Beatrix Potter books are not always easy to spot, many having ‘issue points’ or variations that can have considerable bearing on value. If in doubt please contact one of our experts for more information. The author also experimented with ‘deluxe versions’ of many of her books, either to binding designs by Beatrix Potter or bound in art fabric from her grandfather’s factory, which are highly collectable when in very good condition.


The last of her works to be published was ‘The Tale of the Faithful Dove’, published posthumously by Warne in 1955 in a limited edition of 100 copies only.

 

Find Beatrix Potter First Edition Children's Books available at Shapero below.

 
 

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  1. First edition, one of 100 numbered copies; 16mo (138 x 108 mm.); usual light browning to free endpapers; publisher's green cloth, dust-jacket, an excellent copy.

    £450
  2. First Edition. 16mo, 94 pp., title vignette, 15 colour plates and numerous black and white vignettes within text, modern full tan morocco, gilt, original pictorial pastedown to upper cover, green lettering piece to spine, original pictorial endpapers and all edges gilt; small mark to lower outside corner of p.7 otherwise internally very good indeed.

    £575
  3. First edition, first printing (with the correct front and rear endpapers according to Linder and a coeval gift inscription); 16mo; colour frontispiece, plain title vignette, 14 colour plates and colour pictorial endpapers all by the author, contemporary ownership inscription to front free endpaper, a little light finger-marking and similar, otherwise internally very good; publisher's red boards lettered in white and with inset colour illustration to upper cover, very slight splaying, some marking and edge-wear, spine slightly dulled at worn at ends, presented in later cloth solander box.

    £295
  4. First edition, first, second or third printing; 16mo; 27 colour plates, plain title vignette and colour pictorial endpapers all by Beatrix Potter, light stain to top edge affecting leaves to diminishing degree up until page 27, otherwise internally very good; publisher's beige boards blocked in white with inset colour illustration to upper cover, slight darkening to spine with small splits and some rubbing to head, but overall a very good example, presented in later cloth solander box.

    £500
  5. First edition in this format; 16mo; frontispiece and 17 colour illustrations, a very few, minor, light marginal spots to text, shadow of previous retailer's small pencil markings to upper margin of upper endpapers, some discolouration from stitching to fold of pp 36-37, else near-fine; publisher's red boards mounted with colour illustration, slight darkening and rubbing to spine with some loss to white of lettering, otherwise the front cover is very bright and overall a very good copy.

    £450
  6. First edition, first or second printing, with date to title; 16mo; colour frontispiece, plain title vignette and 26 colour plates, pictorial endpapers; publisher's green boards with mounted colour illustration, very short split at top of lower joint, a few tiny spots to fore-edge, otherwise very good and internally near-fine.

    £800
  7. First edition, first or second printing, with date to title, 16mo., colour frontispiece, plain title vignette and 26 colour plates, pictorial endpapers, publisher's green boards with mounted colour illustration, spine slightly faded, still near-fine overall; preserved in custom-made solander box with upper board of book replicated on lid.

    £1,250
  8. First edition, first printing (with the correct front and rear endpapers according to Linder), 16mo, colour frontispiece, plain title vignette, 14 colour plates, colour pictorial endpapers, a little marginal oxidising, original red boards with inset colour illustration, spine slightly sunned, otherwise a very good, sharp copy, in original or coeval printed glassine dust-jacket, slightly over-sized, cleanly split down lower hinge with slight damage, minor chipping to head of spine and two small tears, overall a very good example, presented in morocco-backed solander box.

    £1,600
 

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