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.

Edward Lear

From Project Gutenberg –  two of Edward Lear’s works rolled together in an 1889 Frederick Warne edition.

Edward Lear - The Owl and the Pussycat

Owl and pussycatDuck and kangaroo

The Project Gutenberg EBook of Nonsense Drolleries, by Edward Lear

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

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

the beginnings of a bunny called Peter

Following yesterday’s post about The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, here are a couple of drawings from The West Australian and The Argus both printed on 7 September 1946 in newspaper articles promoting the release of Beatrix Potter’s biography.  Potter had illustrated letters to a child some 8 years before considering the rabbit drawings as material for a book.1946 BP biographyHow Peter Rabbit beganMrs Bunny


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

18th century map samplers – specimens of schoolgirl proficiency

Marcus B Huish was an English fine arts dealer and eclectic collector with a specific interest in Japanese arts.  There’s a short biography of him at this link on the University of Glasgow’s “Whistler Correspondence” site.

One of his works can be found in e-book form here on Project Gutenberg.  This 1913 book includes colour plates as well as black and white illustrations of needlework from the 17th century onwards, including pieces from Huish’s own collection.   The first image below (dated 1630) is a richly coloured piece called The Story of Queen Esther.

book cover - Marcus B Huish

Title page - Samplers

The story of Queen Esther 1630

One section is devoted to map samplers where Huish talks about needlework maps as being in the same class as samplers, in that they originated as

.. specimens of schoolgirl proficiency, which when taken home were very lasting memorials of the excellence of that teaching termed “the use of the globes”.

This 1738 map of North America (by M.A.K)

.. has nothing whatever in the way of needlework to recommend it, but it shows what any map would, namely, how little was known at that date of the Western States or Canada.



Huish comments on the accuracy (or otherwise) of this Map of England and Wales by Ann Brown.

for the purposes of geographical reference [most map samplers] were at all events reliable, which is more than can be said for some of the original efforts; as, for instance, that of little Ann Brown, whose map of England and Wales is reproduced. Starting bravely, her delineation of Northumberland takes her well down the canvas, so that by the time she has reached Newcastle she has carried it abreast of Dumfries in Scotland, and Cork in Ireland! Yorkshire is so expansive that it grows downward beyond Exeter and Lundy Island, which last-named places have, however, by some mishap, crept up to the northward of Manchester and Leeds. It is a puzzle to think where the little lassie lived who could consort London with Wainfleet, the River Thames with the Isle of Wight, Lichfield with Portland, or join France to England. Although one would imagine that the dwelling-place of the sempstress would usually be made notable in the map either by large lettering or by more florid colouring, we have not found this to be the case.

Lastly this 1784 map of Africa

… which seems to have been used as a fire-screen, is interesting now that so much more is known of the continent, for many of the descriptions have undergone considerable change, such as the Grain Coast, Tooth Coast, and Slave Coast, which border on the Gulf of Guinea. The sampler is also noteworthy as having been done at Mrs Arnold’s, which was presumably a school in Fetherstone Buildings, High Holborn, hardly the place where one would expect to find a ladies’ seminary nowadays.

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


1865 nursery rhymes – when Little Bo-Peep was a boy

These delicious colour illustrations are from The National Nursery Book published c 1865 by Frederick Warne and Co (via Project Gutenberg).  It includes familiar and not-so-familiar stories and rhymes.  Goldilocks is Golden Hair and Little Bo-Peep is a small boy.

Bo-Peep

Bo Peep

There are over a hundred plates in the book.  Here are a few to whet your appetite.  Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to find any reference to the name of the illustrator.

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

Red Riding Hood Old Mother Hubbard Goldilocks Punch and Judy Little Miss MuffetSimple Simon