Rare book reveals Potter priorities: Peter Rabbit resumes career in ballet as first edition goes under hammer
Warne & Co, one of those six publishing houses, reconsidered its decision just before the privately printed editions came out. It proved a wise decision: that particular tale has been reprinted 250 times and all 23 of them have sold 80 million copies world-wide.
Christie's noted that at a glance, the first edition looks similar to copies published today but says that closer examination reveals differences that provide an insight into Beatrix Potter's own ideas on the presentation of her 'bunny book'.
The size of the book was dictated by Potter's wishes that it be 'small enough for little hands to hold'. Her privately printed copy uses line drawings rather than the coloured illustrations of the Warne editions.
In fact, she objected to colour: apart from the printing expense she took the view that most of the colours, 'rabbit brown and green' were also 'rather uninteresting colours'. Warne eventually persuaded her to reconsider.
Potter, who sold her own copies for 1/2d, later sacrificed part of her royalties to keep the price as low as possible: she turned down the idea of a 'six-shilling' (30p) volume as 'little rabbits' could not afford it.
The same auction house yesterday sold a collection of letters that revealed a previously unknown male love of Oscar Wilde. The collection sold for pounds 18,700 to an anonymous collector who ignored the pounds 7,500 estimate.
Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity
Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief
French government seeks to ban extreme right-wing group
BNP and EDL accused of attempt to fuel racial hatred after Woolwich terror attack
You want to get an Eton scholarship? All you need to do is answer four (not so simple) questions
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.