the truth about opium

Cruising through the titles of e-books on Project Gutenberg (see link to this one below), I need go no further for a curious sense of amusement than some of the title pages. I give you:

The Truth About Opium

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: The Truth about Opium
       Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade

Author: William H. Brereton

now there’s a title page

The title page of this 1834 book via Project Gutenberg must win a prize for the number of words describing its contents.

Directory of Flowers

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The American Flower Garden Directory, by 
Thomas Hibbert and Robert Buist

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

children’s libraries in Australia

The State Library of South Australia led the way in Australia by opening the first free Children’s Library on 16 February 1915.  These images from 1915 and 1956 respectively demonstrate how far we’ve come in engaging children in libraries.
childrens_library_1915

State Library of South Australia
from a brochure by H Rutherford Purnell

State Library of South Australia B47958
This image (B47958 State Library of South Australia) shows the former Police Barracks at the rear of the State Library in 1956.  The Children’s Library was located here from 1927 to 1967.

book covers

I really like the beauty and simplicity of these inked fonts pressed into old cloth book covers.

That is all.

The Motor Boys - Clarence Young

Aunt Jimmy's Will - Mabel Osgood Wright

via Project Gutenberg

The Motor Boys – Clarence Young 1906

Aunt Jimmy’s Will – Mabel Osgood Wright 1903


Gregory’s Street Directory

In these days of GPS navigation, it’s interesting to go back to the beginning of street directories in Australia. 

Gregory’s produced their first Sydney Street Directory late in 1934.  The Sydney Morning Herald gave it a mention the following year.  This image of a well-used 1943 edition is via Archive CD Books.

Gregory's Street DirectoryGregory's street directory 1943


19th century songs for little children

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.

Vieilles chansons pour les petits enfantsLa queueJ'ai du bon tabacLa Mere Michel

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

Peter Rabbit – what’s wrong with this picture

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.

VA - front cover Peter Rabbit VA - title page Peter Rabbit

\

The part where it says “illustrations by Virginia Albert” is mostly true. Compare these images from both books.

Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit 1 Virginia Albert Peter Rabbit 1

Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit 2Virginia Albert Peter Rabbit 2

....

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.

Pierre Lapin

Copyright 1916

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.

Peter Rabbit and his PaJimmy Chipmunk

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.

Ethel Hays - Peter RabbitEthel Hays' Peter Rabbit

American children’s author and conservationist Thornton W Burgess wrote many stories based on Peter Rabbit. They included Mrs Peter RabbitPeter 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.

Thornton W Burgess Harrison Cady

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