Original art used for first Tintin cover sells for $1.5m

WASHINGTON • An original drawing used for the first published Tintin cover has been sold at an auction in Dallas for US$1.12 million (S$1.5 million) last Saturday, said Heritage Auctions.

The identities of the seller and buyer have not been released.

The illustration, by Tintin creator Herge, shows the plucky young reporter sitting on a tree stump carving a makeshift propeller for his plane after the original was damaged in a rough landing somewhere in the Soviet Union.

His faithful dog Snowy sits and watches, bandaged from tail to nose.

Herge is the pseudonym of Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi.

The beloved Tintin books have been translated into over 70 languages, but back in 1929, 22-year-old Herge was still telling the young journalist's story in the pages of Le Petit Vingtieme, a children's supplement to the Belgian daily Le Vingtieme Siecle. The serialised Tintin stories proved so popular that Le Petit Vingtieme soon published them in 16-page instalments instead of the original eight, and on Feb 13, 1930, Tintin made the cover.

It was only a few months later that the first book in what was to be a series of two dozen - Tintin In The Land Of The Soviets - was published.

The original drawing used for the first Tintin cover in Le Petit Vingtieme on Feb 13, 1930. It was one of the "rare cover illustrations signed by (Tintin creator) Herge in private hands", according to the auction house. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/ HERITAGE AUCTIONS

More than 200 million Tintin books have now been sold worldwide.

Most of the old Tintin cover illustrations are on display at the Herge Museum in the Belgian town of Louvain-la-Neuve, according to the text in the Heritage Auctions catalogue by Philippe Goddin, who has written several books about Tintin and Herge, including a seven-volume chronology.

The drawing sold last Saturday, in India ink and gouache, was signed by Herge.

A spokesman for Heritage Auctions said the illustration, which turned up in Brussels, was one of the "rare cover illustrations signed by Herge in private hands", as well as the oldest.

The author and artist - who often set his Tintin tales in the most exotic of locales - rarely left Belgium in his lifetime. He died in 1983.

Other Tintin works have also drawn big paydays at auctions, with some surpassing US$1.5 million.

  • >200m

    Number of Tintin books that have now been sold worldwide.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2019, with the headline 'Original art used for first Tintin cover sells for $1.5m'. Print Edition | Subscribe