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.


Imagining Sameness and Difference in Children’s Literature just published

The Little Traveller, or A Sketch of the Various Nations of the World (London: Dean and Munday, ca. 1830).

In October 2013, Cotsen hosted the conference, “Putting the Figure on the Map: Imagining Sameness and Difference for Children.”  The monograph based on the proceedings, Imagining Sameness and Difference in Children’s Literature from the Enlightenment to the Present Day co-edited by Emer O’Sullivan (Leuphana University) and Andrea Immel (Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University), has just been published by Palgrave Macmillan in the series “Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature.”   It features thirty-seven black-and white illustrations; for color, the e-book must be purchased.  

The front cover features a charming illustration of stylishly dressed little Parisians holding hands with Alsatian children in traditional costume from the famous picture book Mon village (1917).  While the illustration appears to celebrate friendship, the author/illustrator Oncle Hansi (aka Jean-Jacques Waltz) was only interested in  friendship among French-speaking Alsatians and the French.  At the time Alsace-Lorraine belonged to Germany and Oncle Hansi cruelly caricatured the German-speaking Alsatians as he worked tirelessly to overthrow German rule so that the region could rejoin France.  The propaganda is made palatable by the style of the illustrations and readers now find it difficult to see what the conventions of representation were supposed to communicate.

As O’Sullivan and Immel argue in the introduction, “The identification and evaluation of these conventions concerns practioners–parents, teachers, school librarians, editors, and publishers vetting materials–the process is equally important to literary critics and historians who examine children’s books for evidence of a society’s attitudes and the way those ideas circulate in order to contextualize them.  A nuanced understanding of the what and how and why of portraying sameness and difference is critical to an appreciation of the role of children’s books in promoting social change.”

The twelve essays by leading scholars from the United States and European Union: the roster includes Amanda M. Brian, Nina Christensen, Gabrielle von Glasenapp, Margaret Higonnet, Cynthia J. Koepp, Gillian Lathey, Silke Meyer, Lara Saguisag, Martina Seifert, and Verena Rutschmann.  Texts from Denmark, Germany, France, Russian, and the United States from the last two hundred years are analyzed–not just literary works, but picture books, non-fiction, comics, instructional volumes, novelties with moveable illustrations.   This volume does not attempt to offer a comprehensive survey or history of representations of difference in children’s literature: rather the contributors “offer a sample of the issues and materials that are a part of this history and the kinds of questions that can and must be asked of them if such a survey or history should be written.  By engaging with the past…the authors provide a wider context and a more discerning way to look at diversity and national identify tropes in children’s literature today.”

Dolls and Sights of the Crystal Palace from the series “Aunt Mavor’s Picturebooks for Little Readers.” (London; Routledge, 1852).

Lapland Sketches, or Delineations of the Costume, Habits and Peculiarites of Jens Holm and his Wife Karina Christian. Jens and Karina were exhibited at the Egyptian Hall in London. (London: J. Harris and Son, 1822). Cotsen 40103.