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Rose Mary
By Rosemary McKittrick
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"The Pooh Finds a Tail" and "Christopher Robin nailed it on," signed drawing sold for $144,000. Photo courtesy of Christie's
"Isn't it funny
How a bear likes honey
Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
I wonder why he does?”

In the hearts of young and old people all over the planet there is an enchanted place on top of the forest where a little boy and his bear are always playing. The bear is Winnie. The boy is Christopher Robin.

Like all great fairytales, A.A. Milne’s heart-tugging story of Winnie-The-Pooh is timeless. Just ask the Walt Disney Company. Walt Disney’s daughters so loved the story, Disney turned the book into a 1966 movie. Today, Pooh Bear and Mickey Mouse rank as the two most loved and trusted Disney characters.

Milne wrote Winnie-The-Pooh in 1926 not so much for children, but for the child within all of us. The name Winnie came from his real-life son’s (Christopher Robin) stuffed bear Winnie. Reality and myth merged in the tale through a tender union that began at the London Zoo.

It was 1919. World War I raged on and troops from Winnipeg, Canada were being transported to eastern Canada on their way overseas to Europe. The train they were traveling in stopped at White River, Ontario. Sitting on the platform was a trapper and an orphaned bear cub.

Lieutenant Harry Colebourn, a Canadian Army veteran, bought the cub for $20 and named her "Winnipeg" or "Winnie" for short. She became the mascot for the Second Canadian Infantry Brigade and traveled with them to Britain. When the troops were sent to France Colebourn decided it would be better for Winnie to stay in Britain. She went to live at the London Zoo.

Winnie was not only popular among kids visiting the zoo she was Christopher Robin’s favorite. He spent time inside her cage and named his stuffed bear Winnie in her honor.

The name Pooh came from a swan Christopher Robin fed each morning near the family’s country home. Other characters from the story like Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, Kanga and Roo were also named after his stuffed animals.

What really made the words in Winnie-The-Pooh come to life were Ernest Howard Shepard’s line drawings. Through his illustrations, Shepard breathed life into Pooh Bear and his friends. Ironically, Shepard’s drawings were not based on Christopher Robin’s bear at all, but rather his own son’s pet stuffed bear named Growler.

On April 27, Christies’ New York, offered an original Winnie-The-Pooh (1926), pen-and-ink drawing by Ernest Howard Shepard in its Norman and Cynthia Armour Collection of Fine Children’s Books auction.

Shepard’s penciled captions on the drawing read: “The Pooh Finds a Tail” and “Christopher Robin nailed it on.” The signed 6 3/4 inch by 9 15/16 drawing appears on page 52 of the book, and sold for $144,000.

A second, signed, Shepard pen-and-ink drawing for The House at Pooh Corner (1928), “All Sunny and Careless,” measuring 6 5/8 inches by 7 inches brought $38,400. It appears on page 104.

Included in the sale were first edition, presentation copies of Milne books. Here are some current values.

A.A. Milne

Pooh Goes Visiting (1931); storybook; box and slipcase includes 7 color cut-out figures, color scenes & stands; $2,400.

Winnie-The-Pooh (1926); first edition, limited issue; number 288 of 350 copies printed on hand-made large paper; signed by Milne and Shepard; $9,600.

The House at Pooh Corner (1928); first edition, limited issue; one of 20 copies printed on Japanese vellum; presented to Curtis Brown and signed by Milne and Shepard; $14,400.

When We Were Very Young (1924); Winnie-The-Pooh (1926); Now We Are Six (1927); The House at Pooh Corner (1928); first editions; published London: Methuen & Co., sold together; $15,600.

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