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A Thelwell cartoon, thought lost until an H&H reader ‘found’ it on her cottage wall, is likely to make £3,000 at auction in Cheshire.

Norman Thelwell, the Birkenhead-born artist became hugely famous for his cartoons of a young girl rider and her fat, hairy pony which appeared in Punch magazine.

Thelwell died in 2004 at the age of 80, having sold more than two million copies of his 32 books in this country alone.

The cartoon, entitled ‘Ow do they feel?’ is being sold by Marla Johnson who lives not far from Birkenhead, on the Wirral.

It shows a blacksmith watching the young rider checking out new shoes for her pony. The cartoon appeared in 1957 in Thelwell’s first published book ‘Angels on Horseback’ and still bears the page marking of page 18.

Mrs Johnson told H&H: “I’ve had it for over 30 years. It was a gift. Until the article in Horse & Hound [celebrating Thelwell’s 80th birthday in 2003] I had no idea it was the missing one from the first book.

“It’s just been sitting there on my cottage wall. Since then there’s been a lot of interest in it.”

The cartoon goes under the hammer on 25 September with Wright-Manley auctioneers in Beeston, near Tarporley in Cheshire and is expected to fetch in the region of £3,000.

Auctioneer Bill Witter said he was very excited at the prospect of the sale: “It’s unusual as most original Thelwell’s are in private collections. We’ve never had an original Thelwell before so it’s quite appropriate, as he was a local lad.

“We’ve already had lots of interest. It’s classic old English-type tongue-in-cheek humour.”

The auction is at the Cattle Market off the Whitchurch Road in Beeston at 11am.