I keep going back to Project Gutenberg’s e-books to discover the new treasures regularly added to their collection.
Take, for example, this 1883 French book of children’s songs – Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfants.
The better known Frère Jacques and Sur le pont d’Avignon are included in the selection of over 30 songs. I’ve selected three of the rhyme illustrations. The original book would be wonderful to see as many of the images were coloured wood engravings. The first is a simple rhyme about a dance in single file. The second is about a mean person in possession of good quality snuff (ground tobacco leaves) and not sharing it. The third is a sad tale of Michael’s mother who lost her cat only to discover that it has been kidnapped and sold for a rabbit.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfants, by Charles Marie Widor This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfants avec accompagnements de Ch. M. Widor Author: Charles Marie Widor Illustrator: Louis Maurice Boutet de Monvel
In 1916, when Beatrix Potter was 50 years old and her creation Peter Rabbit was a teenager, the following version of Potter’s classic was released in the United States by The Saalfield Publishing Company. Not by Potter’s publishers Frederick Warne & Co and not with Potter’s own illustrations. Well that last bit is not entirely true as I discovered while browsing through this e-book from Project Gutenberg. Here’s the original.
The part where it says “illustrations by Virginia Albert” is mostly true. Compare these images from both books.
Yes. There they are – copies of Potter’s work tucked in among the ‘new’ version of the illustrated bunny and looking a little strange in the company of the very different approach of Virginia Albert. Warne & Co must have had their copyright all stitched up in Europe as this French version [all rights reserved] was printed in Great Britain. Apparently Warne’s New York office did not register the copyright for The Tale of Peter Rabbit in the US thus opening the floodgates to imitators and blocking the considerable income stream that Warne and Potter herself would have earned.
At Abe Books (online sellers of used books) you can find pirated editions of Peter Rabbit that were published as early as 1904 when, for example, the Philadelphia publishers Altemus copyrighted The Tale of Peter Rabbit using all of Potter’s illustrations and text. They left one thing off – the author’s name! I note too that the Saalfield Peter Rabbit books were all copyrighted.
Virginia Albert went on to illustrate other Peter Rabbit books also published by Saalfield. One can only imagine the response of Beatrix Potter to the titles and content.
By Louise A Field with Albert’s illustrations there was Peter Rabbit and his Ma, then Peter Rabbit and his Pa. By an unknown author with Albert’s illustrations came Peter Rabbit and Sammy Squirrel and Peter Rabbit and Jimmy Chipmunk. The style of the illustrations is inconsistent. These images are via Amazon.
To add to the fun, another illustrator by the name of Ethel Hays put her oar into the Peter Rabbit waters. Ethel Hays was the illustrator of the Raggedy Ann stories. Images via Wikipedia and Amazon.
American children’s author and conservationist Thornton W Burgess wrote many stories based on Peter Rabbit. They included Mrs Peter Rabbit, Peter Rabbit Puts on Airs and Peter Rabbit Learns from the Striped Chipmunk. The Peter Cottontail character morphed out of these tales. (Remember that Cottontail was one of Peter Rabbit’s brothers in the original tale). Harrison Cady who illustrated many books for Burgess, including Peter Rabbit Proves a Friend, wrote and illustrated a newspaper comic strip called Peter Rabbit from 1920 to 1948. Image via e-Bay per Gibson Books.
And so it goes. Mr McGregor protected his vegetable patch. Warne & Co had one forgetful moment and let a whole lot of other rabbits slip out from under their fence.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Tale of Peter Rabbit, by Beatrix Potter This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
From Perth’s Daily News of 11 August 1934.
Potential tourists with no knowledge of surf life saving may have wondered at these stylised characters apparently doing the hokey-pokey beside the seaside. The colour photo is an iStockphoto image of contemporary lifesavers drilling with a rescue rope.
Who knew that it only took Australia well over 60 years after Federation to drop the word “British” from our passports. Apron strings indeed. It may or may not be a coincidence that Prime Minister Robert Menzies, self-confessed Anglophile, resigned as PM and retired from the parliament in 1966.
The word British has been dropped from Australian passports currently being printed. The Minister for Immigration, Mr Snedden, said yesterday the word had been deleted to avoid misunderstandings, and this did not foreshadow any change in Australia’s relations with Britain. Australia was the only country in the Commonwealth, other than Britain, which had used the word British on passports in recent years. Australia would join New Zealand, Canada and other Commonwealth countries in using only the name of the issuing country on the front cover of the passport. The new passports would be issued within a few weeks.
Dance cards or carnets de bals were all the rage in the 19th century whether at a Regency ball or less formal dance events. This pre-1872 sample is from the collection of the State Library of Victoria. You can find a history of the cards and associated protocols over here at Historical Hussies.
This Wikipedia sourced image illustrates a quadrille in action.
If you’re wondering about the “Sir Roger de C” reference, here’s a description of the dance Sir Roger de Coverley in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This text and colour illustration is via a Project Gutenberg e-book of the Chapman and Hall edition c 1847 with illustrations by John Leech.
There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and more dances, and there was cake, and there was negus, and there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty of beer. But the great effect of the evening came after the Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind! The sort of man who knew his business better than you or I could have told it him!) struck up “Sir Roger de Coverley.” Then old Fezziwig stood out to dance with Mrs. Fezziwig. Top couple, too; with a good stiff piece of work cut out for them; three or four and twenty pair of partners; people who were not to be trifled with; people who would dance, and had no notion of walking.
From the Library of Congress Dance Instruction Manual collection (hat tip to librarians for that which they choose to collect and preserve) comes this description of the dance. Click on the link for the complete instructions.
The Project Gutenberg EBook of A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net