AMHERST, N.H. – Naughty rabbits, bad mice, hedgehog washerwomen: though the gentle charms of Edwardian children’s literature have largely given way to the antics of SpongeBob SquarePants, the motley characters created by Beatrix Potter continue to captivate young readers everywhere.
More than a century after the publication of her best-known story, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, the beloved author-illustrator looms large not only in the bedtimes of children, but in the dreams of collectors. Featured among the nearly 1,500 items in R&R Enterprises’ March auction is a superb Potter-designed Christmas card signed by the author in 1936. The item, which features images of Potter’s characters, is noteworthy not only for its visual appeal and pristine state of preservation, but for the seldom seen form of her signature as Beatrix Potter.
Christmas in March? This 1936 holiday greeting card signed by Beatrix Potter leads the art and literature category.
Though the writer retained her familiar maiden name for the duration of her literary career, she rarely signed with this form following her 1913 marriage to solicitor William Heelis, at which point she adopted his surname as her own and most often signed as Beatrix Heelis.
In 1902, as Potter was putting the finishing touches to The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Theodore Roosevelt was busy on the other side of the Atlantic, facing the challenges of an unexpected presidency following the assassination of William McKinley in the previous year. Though Roosevelt had made his reputation as an effective leader during his years as police commissioner of New York City and governor of New York, it was his service in the Spanish-American War, as leader of the Rough Riders that elevated him to the status of larger-than-life hero.
Rough Rider meets boy soprano in a superb large photo signed and inscribed by Theodore Roosevelt.
Among the outstanding items to be offered in the presidential category is a superb large photo of Roosevelt in his Rough Riders uniform, an iconic image that exudes his characteristic confidence. Adding to the unusual appeal of the item is an inscription to Earl Gulick, a famed boy soprano who toured with McKinley during the campaign of 1900, performed in the White House for both McKinley and Roosevelt, and sang at McKinley’s funeral. The colorful Gulick enjoyed regular appearances in the New York Times in early decades of the 20th century, as in a 1903 article describing a ceremony at which the blushing lad received an award for bravery – he had rescued a drowning man – from none other than Andrew Carnegie. A more startling incident is chronicled in a pair of articles from 1908 reporting his arrest (and subsequent release) in connection with a robbery.
Among the highlights are several items from a longtime employee of the parents of astronaut Alan Shepard, including Shepard’s childhood book report on The Last of the Mohicans, a scrapbook presented to him after the Apollo 14 mission, and a signed photo of the Mercury Seven astronauts.
More than 30 astronauts, including all 12 moonwalkers, signed this copy of We Seven, the classic account of the Mercury space program.
Other treasures include a flown Apollo 11 flight plan page from the personal collection of Buzz Aldrin; a 1969 NASA “effectiveness report” for Aldrin signed by Neil Armstrong; and a copy of We Seven signed by more than 30 astronauts, including all 12 moonwalkers. Earlier aviation history takes shape in a Lindbergh check for cockpit instruments for the Spirit of St. Louis, plus a menu signed by him just days after landing in Paris.
Bids will be accepted on items in the sale through March 12. For more information, call 800-937-3880, or go online to www.rrauction.com.