Charlotte’s Web Cover Fetches High Price at Auction

By Maryann Yin Comment

Garth Williams’ original graphite-and-ink cover for the E.B. White classic, Charlotte’s Web sold for $155k at auction. Altogether, 17 bids were made via internet, phone, and mail on the Heritage Auctions item.

Besides the original cover, another three items were included in the lot: “a 14 x 16.5 in. ink drawing of a web that was used to create the decorative end paper design for the book, and two 9 x 8 in. watercolors of the cover design.”

According to The Washington Post, the auction organizers originally estimated it would go for $30,000, but it exceeded expectations by more than 500 percent. 42 of Williams’ art pieces were sold in the same auction and in total, the collection grossed more than $780,000. The New York buyer for Charlotte’s Web preferred to remain anonymous.

Since the book’s 1952 publication, the title has always used the same Williams’ cover. Williams passed away in 1996 and this was the first time his family ever put up any of his artwork for sale. Williams wrote and illustrated seven books entirely on his own, but he had a busy career primarily as a children’s book illustrator teaming up with White on both Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. He had also worked with other children’s authors including, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Margaret Wise Brown, and George Selden.