Historical Tintin album at auction

Published On September 21, 2017 | By Wim | Comics, Continental Correspondent

Dutch online auction house Catawiki is currently offering a Tintin album that may very well be one of the rarest ever, at least from a historical perspective. Record-breaking Tintin auctions are nothing special anymore these days, it would seem, but this edition of L’Île Noire (The Black Island) from 1943 is something else. But to understand that, you need to know a little bit about the publication history of the Tintin albums.

As with almost all European comics from the 1930s and 1940s, Tintin originated as a newspaper feature, first in the children’s supplement of Le Vingtième Siecle, and later (during the Second World War) in Le Soir. In order to provide these and other newspapers with high quality prints that they then could use for publication, Tintin creator Hergé had limited edition albums made with larger-sized versions of the strips. A typical print-run of such an album was about ten copies, and of this particular one, only three are known to still be in existence.

But there’s more. From the late 1940s onwards, when Casterman started publishing color editions of the Tintin albums, Hergé got in the habit of editing the books, reformatting them in pages of four strips each, and changing numerous elements in the panels, adding detail to backgrounds and updating characters that might be interpreted as racial stereotypes. During this process, Hergé and his collaborators seem to have been using these newspaper edition albums as working documents, correcting or cutting out panels and adding numerous remarks and annotations.

As a rare object, this book is optimal auction material. Previously, Catawiki was able to offer a textless version of Tintin Au Congo that was used by a representative of the publisher to sell the book abroad. That book sold for no less than € 40,000 (or some £ 36,000, but this one is expected to fetch € 70,000 to 95,000 (or £62,000 to 85,000). Let’s hope it finds a buyer who does not only see it as an investment, but makes it available for further study. For those who are interested, the auction runs until Sunday.

(based on reporting in De Morgen. Photography © Catawiki)

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