POTTER, BEATRIX Four miniature autograph letters and an autograph postcard to Master Jack Ripley, signed from Benjamin Bunny, Peter Rabbit, Josephine Rabbit, Mr. McGregor and Beatrix Potter, 1908-1909.
Together five items presented together in a double-sided frame. The two letters signed from Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny are penned on slim slips with text on both sides, these with a triangular flap at top, both about 5 x 1/4 inches (12.5 x 3 cm). The two letters signed from Josephine Rabbit and Mr. McGregor are penned on small rectangular slips with text on both sides, each 1 1/4 x 2 inches (3.2 x 5 cm). The picture postcard depicts Potter's pet Benjamin Bunny and is signed in full "Beatrix Potter" and dated 26 February 1908, 3 3/8 x 5 1/4 inches (8 1/2 x 13.5 cm). Accompanied by two original postal covers addressed to Jack Ripley in Potter's hand at "Estancia La Rosita/Canada de Gomez/Argentine Republic/S. America" (postmarked 27 February 1908) and "Siddington Hall/Cirencester" (postmarked 12 January 1909). Some minor wear from handling and a few spots, the ink faint in a few places but generally quite dark, not removed from the frame, very well preserved overall.
Provenance: Justin Schiller, Ltd.; purchased by Mary K. Young, 1988
Exhibited: Beatrix Potter: The Picture Letters, The Morgan Library & Museum, New York, 2 November 2012-27 January 2013; a copy of a 1991 letter enclosed from Justin Schiller, Ltd to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History makes arrangements for these letters to be included in an exhibition.
An important group of miniature letters from Beatrix Potter to a young boy, signed in the name of beloved characters: Peter Rabbit, his cousin Benjamin Bunny, his mother Josephine Rabbit, and Mr. McGregor (whose garden Peter invades despite warning in The Tale of Peter Rabbit). The letter are each addressed "Dear Jackie" and are written in a tiny script on small slips (addressed by Potter in the postcard from her "with Benjamin Bunny's love to little Jack Ripley, he has got a very little hand full of kisses, so he writes very little letters"). The letter signed from "your friend Peter Rabbit" thanks young Jack "for the calendar like a rose. I have tasted it and I think it is made of paper. So I shall not eat any more of it. I shall hang it up in my rabbit hole!" The letter from Benjamin Bunny reports that "my cousin Peter's envelopes are a very inconvenient shape! I have only got room to say I hope you are very well, and there is going to be another book about me and my family..." Josephine Rabbit writes that "her son Peter has written to thank you for the roses" and Mr. McGregor simply exclaims "I have had those there rabbits in my garden again!"
It seems Potter only wrote miniature letters to children from the early 1900s until her marriage in 1913 and they are distinct from her picture letters and everyday correspondence. Potter's miniature letters are discussed in Judy Taylor's Letters to Children from Beatrix Potter who noted: "The miniature letters, each one of which when folded becomes its own envelope ... were nearly all notes written as if from one character in Beatrix's books to another. They mark a change of gear in her letter-writing to children, almost as if, conscious of her young friends getting older, she felt she should provide them with more than just news. A full appreciation of the miniature letters is enhanced by a knowledge of the books." The letters to Jack Ripley are partially published and discussed by Taylor who writes that John "Jack" Ripley sadly suffered from a deformity in his hands and his father (a breeder of polo ponies hence the Argentinian address on one envelope here) was apparently very strict. Hopefully these charming letters from his favorite characters brought him great joy. Potter's miniature letters appear infrequently at auction and even less so in substantial groupings such as the present offering. We note a group of 4 miniature letters signed by various characters sold Christie's New York, 10 December 1999, lot 234. See Judy Taylor Letters to Children from Beatrix Potter, Frederick Warne, 1992.
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C The Mary K. Young Collection
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