Rare first ever Beano annual to go under the hammer in Norfolk

Keys head of books Robert Henshilwood with the 1940 Beano Annual. Pictures: Andy Newman

Keys head of books Robert Henshilwood with the 1940 Beano Annual. Pictures: Andy Newman - Credit: Archant

Everyone has their favourite memories of the British children's comic, Beano, which has brightened the lives of countless generations of young people.

A spread from the 1940 Beano Annual. Pictures: Andy Newman

A spread from the 1940 Beano Annual. Pictures: Andy Newman - Credit: Archant

And now a very rare copy of the first ever Beano Annual is going under the hammer in Norfolk.

The 1940 Beano Book was the first of 79 annuals published to date by the comic, and appeared just a year after the comic was first published by Dundee-based publishers DC Thomson.

The annual had a small print run, and good condition examples are extremely rare; it is expected to sell for between £1,200 and £1,500.

The Beano Annual is one of a number of comics and children's books to go under the hammer at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers two-day book sale in Aylsham, on Thursday, August 30 and Friday, August 31. The sale also includes a series of Rupert the Bear Annuals dating from the 1930s onwards.

Keys head of books Robert Henshilwood said: 'Beano is the archetypal kids' comic, and it has been published without a break for 80 years.

'It is very rare to see a copy of the first ever Beano Annual, especially in such good condition, and we are expecting a lot of interest from collectors from across the UK and beyond.'

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The annual features comic strips, stories and illustrations, but does not include favourite Beano character Dennis the Menace, who did not make an appearance until 1951.

Peter Cossey, owner of the Movie Shop in St Gregory's Alley, Norwich, said: 'I have been dealing in comics for 40 years. The Dandy and Beano have always been the most collectable of British children's comics, and Beano the more collectable for some reason.

'They were made for children so could get damaged, so when you find one in good condition it's extremely rare. There will be collectors from around the world interested in this one. I think the £1500 estimate is just made up, and it could go for a lot more.'

The Beano Annual will be auctioned on the first day of Keys' sale, and online at www.the-saleroom.com. Full details at www.keysauctions.co.uk

Ten facts about the Beano

1. The word 'Beano' is a shortened version of 'Bean feast', meaning 'a rowdy jollification'.

2. During the Second World war paper shortages meant the comic was reduced to 12 pages every two weeks.

3. Dennis' canine companion Gnasher is drawn using Dennis' hair and adding legs

4. After the war, the Beano editor's name was discovered upon a Nazi assassination list for 'gross disrespect'.

5. For the first few episodes of his story, Dennis did not wear his famous red and black hooped jumper. His mum was still knitting it.

6. For six weeks in 1986, Dennis's famous Abyssinian Wire-Haired Tripe Hound, Gnasher, went missing from the comic. He returned with six puppies.

7. Dennis was originally sketched on the back of a fag packet, in a pub.

8. There are only 20 surviving known copies of the first edition of Beano in the world.

9. It takes about 25 people to make a Beano comic including artists, writers, colourists and graphic designers.

10. Lord Leveson's inquiry heard that 'every newspaper apart from The Dandy and Beano' was named in the investigation.

Top ten most expensive comics ever sold

1. Action Comics, No 1, £2,462,086

2. Amazing Fantasy, No 15, £844,270

3. Detective Comics, No 27, £825,083

4. Batman, No 1, £435,662

5. X-Men, No 1, £378,338

6. Flash Comics, No 1, £345,383

7. Tales of Suspense, No 39, £287,820

8. Marvel Comics, No 1, £268,633

9. Captain America Comics, No 1, £263,303

10. The Incredible Hulk, No 1, £245,000