Really Big Coloring Books: “You Chose the Topic, We Make Your Book”

Really Big Coloring Books in St. Louis, Missouri aims to make your coloring book dreams come true.  Its lines include LapTop Coloring Books (panoramic flip-top books 17 x 11 inches), Power Panel Coloring Books (8 x 11 inches), Travel Tablet Coloring Books (36 pages 5.5 x 8.5 inches), Promotional-Custom Coloring Books (8 pages with 4-color covers guaranteed in 30 days or less), and the Specialty Coloring Books, which in my opinion are highly collectible.

The Speciality Coloring Book  line is topical, bi-partisan, patriotic, and not always politically correct.  Since 1988, Really Big Coloring Books  has produced pamphlets on Obama, Ted Cruz, 9/11, gun safety, coming out, international terrorism (among other things) and most recently at lightining speed, a “true to life graphic educational comic coloring book about the Coronavirus -COVID 19.”The text covers the bases,including essential information about the virus, ground zero at Wuhan, China, correct hand washing techniques and other methods of prevention, a time line of the disease’s spread between December 2019 and February 26 2020, the United States government’s efforts, and how to stay well-informed as the disease spreads.  The editorial team does a good job keeping it non-partisan and factual.Because the publication is intended for all ages, there is a generous helping of generic “fun” but educational activities that can be done with pencil and paper.  They seem very appropriate for passing time in the doctor’s waiting room.  Maybe some physicians have stocked the magazine racks with copies.Really Big Coloring Books, as the preceding publication shows, can be an excellent citizen as a publisher.  There are other times when the firm goes unapologeticaly rogue, as in this 2019 extravaganza on North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.   Nobody can complain that It wasn’t clearly labeled as inappropriate for persons with crayons under the age of eighteen years.  The staff cartoonists seems to have relished this particular assignment because the graphics are pretty inspired for a coloring book.

The maze and connect-the-dots are the most light-hearted of all the fun activities, although others are cruder.  Dennis Rodman has to take his licks.  The back cover states emphatically that Really Big Coloring Books has no animus against the North Korean people, just the “delusional tyrant who truly believes he is a God amongst humans” who makes their lives miserable.  Are we ready to start living in less interesting times???????

Make Your Paper Dolls Parisian Easter Bonnets

La recreation des demoiselles. Paris: H. Jannin for H. Rousseau, ca. 1852. Cotsen Toys unprocessed 6186008.

Is there anything as stylish as a French doll?  Cotsen has a very elegant kit from mid-nineteenth-century Paris for making paper dolls and wardrobes of undergarments, dresses, hats, and coats.  Above is the box lid and the designer of the pictorial title label has, of course, shown Maman and her two daughters absorbed in the activity of making paper dolls from this very object.     Here is the inside of the box.

The large center compartment holds different kinds of colored papers.  Finished hats are in the upper right hand corner and bits of tinseled ribbon in the upper left.  Dolls are in the rectangular compartments on the sides.  Because of all the evidence that the kit was used, it is probably missing original materials that the publisher included.  Perhaps new colored papers were supplied as the little girls consumed the nicest ones dressing the dolls.

 

 

 

Simple patterns were printed on this sheet above the lithographed text.  The  only skills required were cutting along the outlines, including the circle for the doll’s neck, and folding in half at the shoulders.

 

 

Not so!   This sheet shows that the little girls were expected to transfer the outline of the pattern onto the fabric with pin pricks, which is much more economical than cutting them out and throwing them away.  This way patterns can be used over and over again.

Three dolls modelling white dresses, perhaps underclothes.The shift for the youngest girl (number 3) is completely without any decoration, while the knee-length one (number 2) has trim on the hem of the sleeves and the neckline.  The garment with the elbow flounces hovering just above the tops of number 3’s boots might be a dress.

Wrong again!  The doll in the lower right hand corner is clearly wearing number 3  with all the lace trim under her blue skirt and white jacket with something that looks like a peplum.  the jacket is number 3 on the sheet of pricked patterns. The doll above her has garments created from textured papers in pink and green.  The doll to the left is dressed in active wear, suitable for rolling her hoop.

Some unfinished finery underneath the paper samples in the central compartment.

Big brother inspects the ladies’ handiwork and seems to find the results attractive. His approval of their good taste selecting silhouettes, combinations of colors, and “fabrics” is probably critical, as they are playing at living, learning how to make themselves attractive to future suitors!

This kit is another example of the fine lithography of the H. Jannin firm, which has been highlighted in a post on Noah’s ark toys and a jigsaw puzzle  of fashionable fruits and vegetables in Cotsen.  Jannin also made fans and panoramas, and, of course, illustrated books of all kinds for children.