A letter “written” by Winnie the Pooh to a young boy who had invited the bear to his birthday party has sold for £12,500 at auction.
The note of apology, addressed to “Buffkins”, was written 85 years ago by Pooh illustrator E H Shepard.
Littered with misspellings, the letter includes a pen and ink drawing of a tearful Pooh and his friend Piglet.
Described as “impossible not to like”, it fetched more than three times its top pre-sale estimate.
The handwritten note was being sold by the family of birth control pioneer Marie Stopes, who was a close friend of the illustrator.
Buffkins was the childhood nickname of Stopes’ son, the humanist Dr Harry Stopes-Roe.
The fictional bear was often invited to Buffkins’ birthday parties and when Shepard could not come, he would send a letter of apology.
Written in 1935 in the guise of Pooh, it reads: “We are teribly sorry that we shant be able to come to your party on March 30th but we are going to be away. Thank you so much for inviteing us.”
Auctioneer Chris Albury said when he was asked by the Stopes-Roe family to go through “an attic full of papers” there had been “no mention of Shepard or Pooh”.
“In one of the boxes there were these drawings and my heart stopped,” he said.
“The family did offer two others with Christie’s in 2001 but they weren’t aware of this one.
“It’s impossible not to like it.”
Estimated to fetch between £2,000 and £4,000, it sold for £12,500 at Dominic Winters Auctioneers in Cirencester.
Shepard, who died in 1976, worked for Punch magazine for 50 years, though he remains best known for his Pooh illustrations.