The Beryl Reid-Freddie Mercury connection at Sotheby’s

Beryl Reid's The Cat's Whiskers

I wouldn’t have predicted this. Diamond Geezer alerted me to the Freddie Mercury auction/exhibition currently happening at Sotheby’s in London. Almost everything that was crammed into Freddie’s Kensington house is being sold off by Mary Austin, who inherited it all when Freddie died way back in 1991.

One of the items on sale is a collection of books about cats. More specifically, “Lot 1841: Freddie Mercury—personal library | Books on cats, 29 volumes, with ephemera”, to use the Sotheby’s jargon. And one of those volumes is Beryl Reid’s 1986 collection of cat trivia, The Cat’s Whiskers, replete in its original dust jacket.

Freddie Mercury's collection of cat books that is up for auction by Sotheby's.

Diamond Geezer fairly describes this a “slim volume”. The fact that the author was a famous actress is undoubtedly why it’s been given prime position in a display cabinet of assorted cat items at the exhibition (as you can see in the photos on the Geezer blog).

I already own a copy of The Cat’s Whiskers, because of course I do. The dedication gives you a good idea of what you’re in for:

Cats, rather like me, are survivors and refuse to be defeated or squashed by anything. That is why we, who love them, still continue to have the pleasure of their company.

Reid was almost as famous for her love of cats as for her acting talents. Her house at Honeypot Cottage on the Thames was host to as many as a dozen cats at a time. And The Cat’s Whiskers was a commercial success, going into at least four printings.

With that in mind, I don’t think I’ll be bidding for this copy. Sotheby’s estimates this particular lot will go for between 500 and 700 pounds. The books themselves aren’t at all rare, and I suspect that the price has as much to do with the fact the lot also includes photocopies of 18 drawings of Freddie’s own cats.

Given that, and the ongoing love for all things Queen, I won’t be surprised if the final price is a lot higher. (Update: I was right about that.)

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