Sotheby's sets auction record for Pooh drawing

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LONDON (Reuters) - A collection of E.H. Shepard’s original drawings for the Winnie-the-Pooh children’s books by A.A. Milne fetched around 1.3 million pounds at auction on Wednesday, above the high pre-sale estimate.

The sale also set a record for a drawing by the British artist, when one of his most recognisable images, “He went on tracking, and Piglet ... ran after him,” sold for 115,250 pounds, more than double expectations.

The second highest bid of the night was for another famous image of the lovable honey-loving bear, “Bump, bump, bump - going up the stairs,” which went under the hammer for 97,250 pounds, again well above estimates.

The picture of Christopher Robin dragging his bear by the leg up the stairs beside him comes from the final chapter of “Winnie-the-Pooh.”

Sotheby’s auctioneers called the illustrations on offer in London the finest single collection of Shepard’s original drawings for the Pooh books to come to the market.

“The public have a strong affection for these drawings and we are thrilled that this significant collection has notably exceeded expectations,” said Philip Errington, Sotheby’s specialist in charge of children’s literature and illustrations.

The strength of the sale comes despite a marked downturn in the fine art market in recent months.

Earlier in 2008, Sotheby’s set a record for the work of an illustrator at auction when Beatrix Potter’s watercolour illustration for the final scene of “The Rabbits’ Christmas Party” sequence went under the hammer for 289,250 pounds.

Reporting by Mike Collett-White; editing by Tim Pearce