Outtakes from First Impressions: The Print Trade in Children’s Books

“Children, for this small book some thanks are due,

The Printer made it purposely for you.”

From William Darton, Little Jack of all Trades (1804).

The curatorial staff of the Cotsen Children’s Library is proud to announce the opening of the exhibition, First Impressions: The Print Trade in Children’s Books. This exhibition explores the representation of the print trade in children’s books and toys from the nineteenth to early twentieth centuries.

Our exhibition cases are filled with engaging illustrations of printing techniques, engravers, xylographers, bookbinders, and a wood-engraving block, electrotype plate, and even a child’s hobby printing press from the 1930s. However, not every book that we initially selected for this exhibition made it into our cases. Some weren’t selected simply because they didn’t fit the case or because another book had a better illustration depicting an aspect of the print trade.

George Dodd. Days at the Factories, 1843 [Ctsn Eng 19 95926]

Others, like George Dodd’s Days at the Factories, 1843 [Ctsn Eng 19 95926]) were excluded from the exhibition because the book is not stable enough to display. As you can see from the above photo, even closed you can see that the pages of the book are loose though the binding is relatively strong.

George Dodd. “Printing Machine.” Days at the Factories, 1843 [Ctsn Eng 19 95926]

Unfortunately, we were not able to display this detailed image of a Koenig “Printing Machine” because the foldout has completely detached from the binding. This image, like many others in this book, seems to have been pasted into the book after it was sewn. Normally when an image is “tilted in,” it is printed separate from the text, collated, and sewn directly into the book.

George Dodd. Days at the Factories, 1843 [Ctsn Eng 19 95926]

What appear to be dried paste can be seen on the printed image and the adjacent page, leading us to think that the image was pasted into the book after it was bound.

George Dodd. Days at the Factories, 1843 [Ctsn Eng 19 95926]

A book in this condition would never be able to handle a display cradle for very long. It would only exacerbate its delicate state and would cause more damage. It should be carefully handled and properly cradled with foam book cradles to prevent stress on the spine and binding, as shown above.

Kosai Miki. Eigaku dokansho makio no ichi (Learning English for children), vol. 1, 1873 [Ctsn Pams/NR/Japanese/Box 88 98383

Kosai Miki’s Eigaku dokansho makio no ichi (Learning English for children, vol. 1), 1873 [Ctsn Pams/NR/Japanese/Box 88 98383] was also removed from the final selections for the exhibition, but for an entirely different reason. This book is structurally sound and would have made a wonderful addition to the display, if only the images of the bookbinder, bookseller, and paper manufacturer were more prominent.

Kosai Miki. Eigaku dokansho makio no ichi (Learning English for children), vol. 1, 1873 [Ctsn Pams/NR/Japanese/Box 88 98383]

Meant to teach English to Japanese children, each page contains nine, colored illustrations of a tradesman performing his trade.  The images are accompanied by both, the English word and the Japanese characters for the name of the trade. When held in the hand, this book is easily understood as the reader slowly moves their eyes over each panel, connecting the word and characters to the picture. However, if this were displayed in one of our exhibition cases, the intended images of the bookbinder, bookseller, and paper manufacturer would be overwhelmed by the other objects.

Kosai Miki. Eigaku dokansho makio no ichi (Learning English for children), vol. 1, 1873 [Ctsn Pams/NR/Japanese/Box 88 98383]

Be sure to visit the Cotsen during our normal business hours to see the books and objects we’ve selected for our exhibition, First Impressions: The Print Trade in Children’s Books. The exhibition is open to the public until January 3, 2020. And make sure you visit this blog next week for more outtakes from our current exhibition.

What do you think about this post?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.