2021 Christmas Sale Highlights
2021 was a strong year in the auction industry for Christmas-themed artwork, illustrations, and books. Premier temptations from legacy artists and authors consistently shattered presale estimates and generated stunning results. Here are five Christmas sale results that prove the category remains merry and bright among collectors worldwide!
The Addams Family Christmas
It’s a family affair when it comes to this first Christmas sale highlight. On April 30, 2021, Heritage Auctions of Dallas, TX sold Charles Addams’ (American, 1912 – 1988) ink and watercolor on board illustration for USD 87,500 as part of its Illustration Art sales event. Titled The Addams Family Christmas, the 1947 piece had a presale estimate of $8,000 to $12,000.
This framed drawing shows Morticia Addams decorating a skeletal holiday tree as Wednesday and Pugsley peek in. It measures 16.5 by 11.5 inches overall. Signed by the artist on the lower right, it also bears a magazine stamp from The New Yorker on the reverse.
“Happy Christmas to All”
This next holiday highlight has been getting people in the Christmas spirit for over a century. On November 5, 2021, Jessie Willcox Smith’s (American, 1863 – 1935) Happy Christmas to All realized $87,500 during Heritage Auctions’ American Art sale. This legacy watercolor and ink on board work appeared in an edition of Clement C. Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas tale. Smith’s work featured in a 1912 version, published in Boston, MA.
The signed work measures 7.5 by 28.75 inches overall and shows Santa Claus, his sleigh, and eight reindeer landing dramatically upon a snow-covered roof on a moonlit Christmas evening. This illustration remained in private hands for nearly 60 years. According to Heritage’s experts, “the imagery by Smith in this iconic story shaped our modern views of Christmas in America.”
Picasso Christmas Postcard
This holiday highlight featuring Christmas dinner “Picasso style” will unquestionably whet your appetite. On December 2, 2021, International Autograph Auctions Europe sold an illustrated ALS (Autograph Letter Signed) postcard from Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881 – 1973). It features an original pen and ink drawing of a Christmas dinner. The pictured meal consists of a turkey, two bottles of wine accompanied by four glasses, and several bunches of grapes and other fruits.
Estimated at EUR 20,000 to €30,000 (USD 22,565 – $33,847), this remarkable example traded hands for €27,000 ($30,500). Picasso sent this card on January 2, 1919 and signed it on behalf of his first wife, Olga. According to the auction house’s catalogers, “Such detailed original ink drawings by Picasso, particularly from this earlier stage of his career, rarely appear at auction and the present example is enhanced by an interesting association.” That association refers to the letter’s recipients, Mr. and Mrs. Henri Defossé. A favorite conductor of prominent Russian art and dance critic Sergei Diaghilev, Henri Defossé was also close friends with Picasso.
Dickens’ Christmas Books
This next Christmas sale highlight is one for the record books— literally! On August 28, 2021, Potter & Potter Auctions of Chicago, IL set a new world record when it sold a collection of five Christmas books by Charles Dickens (British, 1812 – 1870) for USD 30,000 during its late summer Fine Books & Manuscripts sales event. This grouping carried a presale estimate of $6,000 to $8,000.
Each tome is a first edition copy published in London between 1843 and 1848. Titles include A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man. The covers of these finely-bound volumes feature various color morocco inlays depicting a Dickens character from its corresponding work. According to Potter’s experts, “A Christmas Carol is regarded as Dickens’ most widely read novel and considered to be the greatest Christmas book ever written in any language.”
Dr. Seuss’ Sketch of the Grinch
Our final Christmas highlight just might have you seeing green, in the best possible way. On April 30, 2021, Heritage Auctions sold an original rendering of the Grinch— from How the Grinch Stole Christmas— for a whopping $27,500. American illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel (1904 – 1991) sketched the piece in 1957. This crayon on paper drawing originally had an estimate of $1,000 to $1,500. Measuring 11 by 8.75 inches and unframed, this portrait illustration of everyone’s favorite green curmudgeon with red eyes includes Dr. Seuss’ signature to the lower right.
For more information on Christmas collectibles, check out Auction Daily’s report on vintage Christmas items with the golden glow of Christmas past.