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Original Winnie the Pooh drawings fetch $2.3M at auction

A series of original illustrations by British Winnie the Pooh illustrator E.H. Shepard sold for nearly $2.3 million Cdn at auction in London on Wednesday.

While some might favour Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol or perhaps Damian Hirst, it seems the work of original Winnie the Pooh illustrator E.H. Shepard is also highly coveted by collectors.

A series of original illustrations by the British Shepard, and other Pooh paraphernalia, sold for nearly $2.3 million Cdn at auction in London, England, on Wednesday.

One of his most iconic Pooh images — titled He went on tracking, and Piglet...ran after him — fetched about $206,000. Sotheby's officials had given the work a pre-sale estimate of between $72,000 and $108,000.

The sale also represented a new record high for the sale of a drawing by Shepard, who also created the illustrations for Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. The illustrator died in 1976.

Another familiar image entitled Bump, bump, bump — going up the stairs, which depicts Christopher Robin ascending a staircase dragging along his beloved bear by a leg, sold for $176,000, also surpassing pre-sale estimates.

The hammer also fell on lots that included limited edition Pooh books and tomes signed by author AA Milne.

The sale demonstrated the public's affection for the drawings, said a "thrilled" Philip Errington, Sotheby's specialist in children's books and original illustrations.

"The interest from around the world in these superb drawings, and the highly competitive bidding from many buyers, has demonstrated the worldwide appeal of Winnie the Pooh," he added, according to Agence France-Presse.

In November 2000, the Pavilion Gallery Museum in Winnipeg — with support from several levels of government as well as private individuals — bought Shepard's only known oil painting of Pooh at a London auction for $274,000.