Lot 31: DR. SEUSS (THEODORE GEISEL) - THE SWEETEST STORY EVER TOLD, CIRCA 1938.
Catalog Note: A delightful original drawing comprising the earliest known version of Dr Seuss’s beloved character Horton (here a femaile elephant, Matilda), looking very pleased with herself, seated on a small egg, with captions written on banners above and below the image.
While a student at Dartmouth, trouble with the school administration (something to do with bootleg liquor) led Theodor Geisel to begin (1925) signing his cartoons in the college humor magazine Jack-o-Lantern with his middle name "Seuss" (for anonymity). Graduation that year was followed by study at Oxford and further travel in Europe, eventually returning to America in early 1927. Geisel’s first "professional" cartoon appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on July 16, 1927, followed by regular appearances in the popular humor magazine Judge beginning in October of that year, where in April 28, 1928 the "Dr" was first added to "Seuss" under one of his cartoons (apparently to make up for an advanced degree which he had not received during his year of post-graduate work at Oxford).
In the April 1938 issue of the same magazine, Geisel published a one-page story comprising another early version of Horton also featuring an elephant named Matilda (see p17). That story was entitled "Matilda, the Elephant with a Mother Complex. A Dr. Seuss Fable ". It was illustrated with two Seuss designs including a version of our drawing (with an additional figure and background, and with the elephant’s eyes now closed). Curiously, the Judge story conveys the opposite meaning of both our design and the Horton book ("Moral: Don’t go around hatching other folk’s eggs"). Judith and Neil Morgan, in their biography Dr. Seuss & Mr Geisel (1995), describe how a few years later a breeze from an open window lifted Matilda/Horton up into a tree (pp96/97), where she/he finally appeared in Horton Hatches the Egg (Random House, 1940). This book was an immediate success, and Horton remains among Seuss’s most beloved characters.
- Provenance: Given by Geisel to Harvey Poe, Jr (born in 1916) while the artist was vacationing in Brookline, Maine (Harvey Poe, Sr managed the Mountain Ash Inn & Cottages, where the artist stayed). Mr Poe believes it was given to him when he was about 9 (i.e. 1925) and while this is of course possible, it seems more likely the drawing was given to him well after Geisel’s return from Europe, probably soon after the similar design appeared in Judge magazine (April 1938).
Accepted Forms of Payment
American Express, COD (cash on delivery), MasterCard, Money Order / Cashiers Check, Other, Personal Check, Visa, Wire Transfer
Conditions of Sale
You agree to pay a buyer's premium of up to 25.0% and any applicable taxes and shipping
Conditions of Sale for Icons of Children’s IllustrationPrint
SOTHEBY'S OFFERS A COMPREHENSIVE SHIPPING SERVICE TO MEET ALL OF YOUR REQUIREMENTS.
IF YOU RECEIVED A SHIPPING QUOTATION OR HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SERVICES WE OFFER PLEASE CONTACT US.
COLLECTION AND DELIVERY
POST SALE SERVICES
+ 1 212 606 7444
FAX: + 1 212 606 7043
ONCE YOUR PAYMENT HAS BEEN RECEIVED AND CLEARED, PROPERTY MAY BE RELEASED. UNLESS OTHERWISE AGREED BY SOTHEBY'S, ALL PURCHASES MUST BE REMOVED BY THE 30TH CALENDAR DAY FOLLOWING A SALE.
COLLECTING YOUR PROPERTY
AS A COURTESY TO PURCHASERS WHO COME TO SOTHEBY'S TO COLLECT PROPERTY, SOTHEBY'S WILL ASSIST IN THE PACKING OF LOTS, ALTHOUGH SOTHEBY'S MAY, IN THE CASE OF FRAGILE ARTICLES, CHOOSE NOT TO PACK OR OTHERWISE HANDLE A PURCHASE.
IF YOU ARE USING YOUR OWN SHIPPER TO COLLECT PROPERTY FROM SOTHEBY'S, PLEASE PROVIDE A LETTER OF AUTHORIZATION AND KINDLY INSTRUCT YOUR SHIPPER THAT THEY MUST PROVIDE A BILL OF LADING PRIOR TO COLLECTION. BOTH DOCUMENTS MUST BE SENT TO POST SALE SERVICES PRIOR TO COLLECTION.
THE BILL OF LADING MUST INCLUDE: THE PURCHASER'S FULL NAME, THE FULL DELIVERY ADDRESS INCLUDING THE STREET NAME AND NUMBER, CITY AND STATE OR CITY AND COUNTRY, THE SALE AND LOT NUMBER.
SOTHEBY'S WILL CONTACT YOUR SHIPPER WITHIN 24 HOURS OF RECEIPT OF THE BILL OF LADING TO CONFIRM THE DATE AND TIME THAT YOUR PROPERTY CAN BE COLLECTED. PROPERTY WILL NOT BE RELEASED WITHOUT THIS CONFIRMATION AND YOUR SHIPPER MUST BRING THE SAME BILL OF LADING THAT WAS FAXED TO SOTHEBY'S WHEN COLLECTING. ALL PROPERTY RELEASES ARE SUBJECT TO THE RECEIPT OF CLEARED FUNDS.
PLEASE SEE THE CONDITIONS OF SALE FOR FURTHER DETAILS.