A rare copy of the first Beano book, which pre-dates much-loved comic character Dennis the Menace, has sold at auction for almost double its pre-sale estimate.

Norwich Evening News: A spread from the 1940 Beano Annual. Pictures: Andy NewmanA spread from the 1940 Beano Annual. Pictures: Andy Newman (Image: Archant)

The annual, published around the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, had a pre-sale estimate of £1,200 to £1,500 and fetched £2,700 at Keys Fine Art Auctioneers in Aylsham yesterday,

It is the first of 79 Beano annuals published to date and features comic strips, stories and illustrations - but does not include mischief-maker Dennis the Menace, who made his first appearance in 1951.

His pet dog Gnasher was introduced in 1968.

The weekly Beano comic was first published by Dundee-based DC Thomson in July 1938.

Robert Henshilwood, head of books for Keys, described the Beano as the 'archetypal kids' comic', adding: 'It is very rare to see a copy of the first ever Beano annual, especially in such good condition.'