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The High Street is back in vogue! Rare book fetches record price at auction

Posted on 05/04/2018 in Press Coverage

A hugely sought after first edition book found at a free valuation day in Cheltenham has sold for a record price at auction.

High Street, by Eric Ravilious and J M Richards, was first published in 1938, to capture the life of the now much-changed British high street.

One of the first copies ever made was contested to £2,050 at Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers Spring Fine Art Auction - believed to be a hammer price record.

It was found at a valuation day held by Hansons at The Kings Head, Cheltenham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, near Cheltenham.

Jim Spencer, head of the Library Department at Hansons, said: “I’m always delighted for our vendors when something they bring along to a free valuation event exceeds all expectations in the saleroom. As far as I am aware, the book has not sold at a higher price at auction.

“It’s one of the most famous and iconic illustrated books of the 20th century. It’s sought after because only 2,000 copies of the original book were printed before the lithographic plates were destroyed in the London Blitz.

“As a result, it has become one of the most collectable of all artist’s books from the period. The copy we sold was printed in 1938 and included its original book seller’s receipt from Cornish Brothers of New Street, Birmingham.

“I put an estimate of £1,000-£1,500 on it but it soared past that figure to make more than £2,000.”

High Street pairs the illustrations of Ravilious with text by architectural historian Richards. Shops captured by the artist include the family butcher, the coach builder, the cheesemonger, the knife grinder and the oyster bar.

Ravilious began work on his High Street lithographs in 1935 and it took him a year to complete them. He sought out odd shops in London and country villages, often with Victorian visual appeal, as inspiration for his work.

High Street was sold at Hansons’ Fine Art Auction on March 23. Hansons is now entries for its June 8 Summer Fine Art Auction. Their valuers will be back at The Kings Head, 19 Cheltenham Road, Bishop’s Cleeve, Cheltenham, GL52 8LU, on April 24, 11am-4pm. TV celebrity Kate Bliss will be there to value jewellery, silver and watches and Hansons’ associate director Adrian Rathbone can carry out general valuations. To find out more, call Carol Jones on 07802 839 915 or email [email protected]