Catalogue of the Cotsen Children’s Library: The Nineteenth Century Published!

From A, Apple Pie to Werkstätten von Handwerkern, with almost 6370 titles in between…

The History of the Apple Pie: Illustrative example for the letter X.   Before X-rays came along, the letter X often posed challenges for illustrated alphabet examples. Ever hear of a Xiphias?

Remember the old children’s riddle: “What’s black and white and read all over?”

The answer, of course, is “a newspaper,” and the riddle is based on the possible confusion between between the homophones, “read” and “red” when spoken, an ambiguity that’s completely lost in print (or online).

Children love riddles, and traditional oral culture is full of riddles and verbal puzzles.  That’s one reason why any number of Cotsen Library children’s books contain riddles, along with other word-games and puzzles.  A quick keyword search of Princeton’s library catalog for “riddle” and “Cotsen” turns up over 400 matches: from the 1690 Whetstone for Dull Wits: or, a New Collection of Riddles, for the Entertainment of Youth (Cotsen #35473), to the 1756 Food for the Mind, or, A New Riddle-book: Compiled for the Use of the Great and the Little Good Boys and Girls in England, Scotland, and Ireland (Cotsen #5374), to the 1955 Cai Mi Yu (Solving Riddles). (Cotsen #70304), with many other titles, from various eras, issued in a wide variety of countries.

The two-volume Catalogue of the Cotsen Children’s Library: The Nineteenth Century (Princeton, 2019), with its lavender, gilt-stamped cloth covers.

In the spirit of riddling, I’d like to pose one to you, the reader.

What published title lists and describes 6,370 nineteenth-century children’s book titles, comprises 1175 pages in two large, folio-sized volumes, and features over 270 brightly color-printed illustrations?  (Hint: it’s pictured at the right…)

The answer?  The recently published (January, 2019) two-volume: Catalogue of the Cotsen Children’s Library: The Nineteenth Century.  The books selected for inclusion in this descriptive catalog and the illustrations accompanying them seek to highlight nineteenth-century children’s books that have particularly-striking illustrations, books featuring work by especially renowned illustrators or engravers (John Tenniel, Kate Greenaway, Walter Crane, Randolph Caldicott, or Edmund Evans, to name but a few), or books exemplifying the range of illustration processes in this important period in terms of both graphical style and technological developments (from hand-colored woodblocks or engravings to chromolithography).

Page 1 of the Catalogue: A a B c d e f ff g, A Apple Pie, and off we go…

Arranged both topically and alphabetically, titles in the two catalog volumes run from, A, Apple Pie to 30 Werkstätten von Handwerkern: nebst ihren hauptsächlichsten werkzeugen und fabrikaten; mit erklärendem texte, with more than 6300 entries in between, each described in considerable bibliographic detail, using the catalog records in Princeton’s online library catalog as the basis.

With the publication of two Nineteenth Century volumes (A-K and L-Z), these volumes join the two previously-published Twentieth Century volumes (2000 and 2003) and the printed Cotsen Catalogue now provides coverage of publications held by the Library from both the 19th and 20th centuries.  A final, two-volume printed catalog of Cotsen’s holdings from the incunable era through 1799 is now in the works.

For more information about the printed Cotsen Catalog volumes, including information on how to order these magnificent books, please visit the Oak Knoll Books website.

Endpapers from the 19th Century Catalogue, designed by Mark Argetsinger using illustrative examples in Cotsen ABC books.


2 thoughts on “Catalogue of the Cotsen Children’s Library: The Nineteenth Century Published!

  1. Am researching children’s lit, especially for children with learning difficulties in the C19th – ‘Aunt Lely’s Picture Alphabet’ seems appropriate – for a screenplay set in US in 1865. I am hoping someone can tell me the illustration for the letter ‘T’.

    • The illustration for the letter “T” in McLoughlin Brothers’ “Aunt Lely’s Picture Alphabet” (published between 1863 and 1866) pictures a tiger, a tent, a tower, and a top. The words appear in 4 rhyming lines below the illustration.

      You can see the catalog entry for this book at:

      Hope that’s what you wanted.

      Thanks for your interest in the Cotsen blog!

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