An original illustration from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World by Harry Rountree, first published in The Strand Magazine in 1912, sold for an unexpected £2600 last month.
The Lost World was originally published a serial in the Strand Magazine during the months of April – November 1912, with Rountree supplying the illustrations. The story of an expedition to a plateau in the Amazon basin where prehistoric beasts still survive remains popular to this day and has spawned many films, the first released in 1925.
Born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1878, Harry Rountree studied at Queens College there, then started working in a studio as a lithographer, primarily tasked with the design of labels for a variety of products.
He moved to London in 1901 at the age of 21 and attended the Regent Street polytechnic, studying under Percival Gaskell. While there, he developed his art style, consisting of blocks of colour encompassed by jagged edges, perfect for small illustrations and sizeable posters, in order to break into the burgeoning magazine and book market.
While not immediately successful, he eventually broke into the business, building a name for himself, illustrating books that would become children’s classics such as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and also contributing illustrations to magazines that included Punch, The Sketch, The Strand, The Illustrated London News, Playtime, Little Folks, and many more.
Rountree’s original Lost World illustration for The Strand was estimated at £40 – 60 – but the 14 x 10in (35 x 25cm) pen and ink art sold for £2600 at David Lay in Penzance last month. through The Saleroom.
Although he created the illustrations for the serialised publication of The Lost World, it was Joseph Clement Coll who drew the artworks that featured in its first book publication.
Fortunately for fans of his work, Rountree’s illustrations feature in The Lost World (100th Anniversary Edition) published by US publisher SeaWolf Press, just one of the books in their Arthur Conan Doyle 100th Anniversary Collection. This edition features 50 original illustrations from the first version in Strand Magazine.