Recent auction prices of pounds 20,000 or so for E H Shepard's delightful illustrations for A A Milne's Christopher Robin books seem to put his work beyond our pocket. But outside the charmed circle of Robin, Pooh and Tigger, Shepard drawings can be picked up quite cheaply. Christie's South Kensington expects only pounds 150-pounds 250 for Shepard's pencil and watercolour drawing of a pensive Edwardian paterfamilias holding at arm's length a newspaper with a headline about the war in Russia, in its sale of original illustrations and illustrated books, Friday (11am).

The drawing displays the unmistakable Shepard casualness - he makes drawing look so easy - together with his unerring eye for the pose of individuals absorbed in thought or some mundane activity. Pretentious, perhaps, to compare him with Vermeer, but it's funny how the folk in both 17th century Delft and Hundred Acre Wood seem to be up to nothing much, apart from savouring the poignancy of he moment. There are seven other Shepard drawings in the sale, with estimates ranging from pounds 200 to pounds 600.

Less familiar images of William Heath Robinson are likely to be cheaper, too. He is chiefly sought after for his drawings of outrageous contraptions - such as the one for inserting peas into the mouth - which sell for pounds 1,500- pounds 2,000, especially in colour. Two unmechanical but equally charming monochrome wash drawings of his are estimated at only pounds 600-pounds 900 in the sale. One shows four old men disguising their bald pates as eggs in an attempt to lure wild turkeys to their nest, the other a gravity-defying edelweiss gatherer supported on a cliff face by a turkey fledgling.

Still funny today? A seaside postcard original by the saucy Donald McGill has a lower estimate than usual - pounds 200-pounds 400 - because in the last sale, in December, nobody found his cartoon of "The chubby boy", estimated pounds 250- pounds 350, funny enough to buy. Someone did bid pounds 540, over pounds 300-pounds 500 estimate, for one captioned "Oh, Mr Murgatroyd, how bare-faced of you". The pencil- and-watercolour in this sale has a fat, buck-toothed countryman with carpet bag eyeing two well-endowed London lasses, with the caption "No wonder they call this the Metropolis".

Next Saturday (1pm), Bonhams holds its ninth sale of 20th century design - and the first since Sotheby's and Christie's South Kensington muscled in on the market last month (selling 69 and 86 per cent respectively). Bonhams has out-trendied them both by emphasising design rather than decorative arts. The result is a sale so surreal that you can flip through the catalogue hardly knowing whether you are looking at chairs or table lamps. There is a deliberate absence of illustrations of boring old Eames reclining chairs and no sign of other staple 20th century fare such as the Italian "Jo" baseball-glove sofa.

Among the new-to-auction lots are the Italian Studio 65's 1971 Capitello chair, in the shape of an Ionic capital, and - Italian again - a giant pink polyurethane foot made by Gaetano Pesce in 1969, "Up 7, il Piede", at pounds 4,000-pounds 5,000. That estimate should be steep enough to deter the dowdy, down-dressing young voyeurs who packed South Ken's sale but were too clueless to snap up the few lots estimated at less than studio door prices. There are no in-production lots in this sale. Honest, guv.

Single-owner collections often present buyers with a once-only choice of dozens of something previously uncommon at auction - and at a price lower than single specimens might attract. For example, Christie's South Kensington's sale of scientific instruments, Thursday (2pm) has 30 pocket- sized coin-weighing balances from the 17th-19th centuries when coin-clipping was rife, ranging in estimate from pounds 300-pounds 400 to pounds 1,000-pounds 1,200. An 18th century German example est pounds 700-pounds 1,100 has a lion-shaped knob to hoist the pair of brass pans and a set of weights representing the ecu, ducat, noaille and guine.

John Windsor

Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Lois Pryce... Life Without a Postcode. Lois lives on a boat with her husband.. Registering to vote in the election has prooved to be very difficult without a fixed residential post code. (David Sandison)
newsHow living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

    £6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

    Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

    £12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

    Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

    £32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

    Day In a Page

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing