Rat, Mole and Mr. Toad, drawn when Shepard was 90 years old
A sketch of Rat, Mole and Mr. Toad from The Wind in the Willows has sold for £37,000 at auction.
The drawing was made by illustrator Ernest Shepard when he was 90 years old and given to a friend as a thank you after she bought him a birthday gift.
The Times reports that the sketch was given to a Mrs Shirley, who lived near Shepard in West Sussex, along with a letter in which he said that The Wind in the Willows was his favourite book.
He added in the letter that he hoped she would “find a place in her house for Rat, Mole and Toad”.
Now, the sketch will be homed with a London dealer who won out in a tense bidding war at the Antique & Retro auction house in Torquay.
Ace Harrison, who arranged the sale on behalf of a friend, told HuffPost UK: "I thought the work was unmistakeably Shephard, and had a certain depth that only he could achieve with pencil and ink.
"One can only imagine that it probably took only minutes to draw with his expert hand, but captivated me for hours."
I’s not the first time something Shepard drew for a friend has gone on to be sold for a high price.
In January, a sketch of his other famous character Winnie The Pooh sold for £20,000. It was originally a thank you note sent to actor Peter Bromilow in 1954.