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What’s in the signature?

What’s in the signature?

A question often asked about rare and first edition books. Of course the answer is not as straight forward as it might seem. To put it simply, the interest of a signature in a book depends on who it is and what else is included in the writing.

Of course the “who” goes without saying. It has to be the author or illustrator who is well known to add value to a book.  And factor in whether the person is still alive or was a serial signer or not. For example, a signed Bram Stoker or Rudyard Kipling book is both of value due to the fact both are long deceased and both signed very few of their books.

Signatures of people associated with a book’s film adaptation have interest too, so a first edition Ian Fleming book signed by the Bond actor, whilst not worth as much as one signed by Fleming himself, would still add considerable value to the book. Even other actors who featured in the film add a degree of interest, with the likes of Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore from Goldfinger) leading the list.

In the book world there are so many sorts of signatures. And there seems to be a hierarchy of sorts among it all.

One level of the hierarchy is the signature written with nothing else and this can add interest to a book. Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis Signed Kingsley Amis signed books are a good example. This simple signature of an author or illustrator maybe more valuable if it is dated and written directly on the pages of the book. Book plates or tipped in signatures are considered less desirable. Owners sometimes like to write their own name on a book and occasionally this can be of interest to a book collector if the person is on interest. Even a bookplate of a related and interesting character can add value to a book.

Nest step up in the ladder is the inscription signature. This is the signature which has been written especially for a particular person and naturally is especially interesting if that person is well known themselves. Of course a dedication inscription that is written to an unknown person may actually detract from a books value.

Any story behind a signature can add interest and value to a book and is called an association copy. This is where the author or illustrator’s signature is inscribed to someone associated with the writer. Links of association could be family members, other famous authors, politicians or anyone of note. Our ephemera within  Now We Are Six depicting connections between H. G. Wells and A. A. Milne is a fascinating find. Occasionally the person who collects the books may become an association of interest. These can tell a story, delving into a piece of literary history so this will always add value and interest to any bibliophile. Finding a date alongside the writing may pin point the interest to a significant event. Now We Are Six with signed ephemera by A.A. Milne & H.G Wells

A dedication signature is the ultimate level of signatures and can add significant value and attention to a bibliophile. Finding a signature dedicated to the person to whom the book was written for is quite special and rare to locate. Example

The worth of a signature will naturally be dependent slightly on market forces – the more generous an author is in signing their publication the less value the signature might have. Books of famous authors who rarely scribbled their names on their books are sought after items example. An author whose books are highly collectable will obviously attract more attention (usually if signed or not!).

For identification purposes the more that is written the better to confirm the authenticity of the writing and establishing the accuracy of the writer is best done through a specialist service to avoid costly mistakes.

Such a wealth of choices of signed books makes the bibliophile’s search for what’s in the signature of the next book such an interesting and enduring task.

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The Gift of Music or Books

The Gift of Music or Books

Recently someone asked me what I wanted for my birthday gift– maybe a CD I replied and then realised I hadn’t listen to music for quite a while. Music had always been really important to me. I’d often got lost in it. It could make me happy, moved – sad even, energetic or help me get to sleep. Quite a powerful mix of spells. But without particularly noticing, I’d almost stopped listening altogether. What had happened? Had my life changed? Or shock horror, had I changed?

Then I came across an article about the latest high definition portable music players and how they play music files that aren’t compressed.

kindleI’ve always appreciated quality in all things whether I can afford them or not. Quality sound, with those high tones and deep bases we used to hear on vinyl, had disappeared from my life. It wasn’t me – it was the awful low quality music on my phone. Those compressed digital files that conveniently fit hundreds of songs onto my tiny little device at the expense of sound quality, were to blame. I’d fallen out of love with music because it no longer gave me the pleasure it once did. I just hadn’t realised it.

Reading book

I bought myself a new, albeit rather expensive portable devise and now can’t download music (high definition music) onto it quickly enough. It’s wonderful to have my ears opened again, as though they’d been blocked with wax for a decade!

There is an obvious and relevant comparison with books and e-books. Yes, e-books are convenient for say holidays but beyond that, are they really a substitute for the real thing? I’m not talking about rare and antique first editions here but any modern or classic book. For instance, sometimes I have need to flip back to check a specific detail from earlier in a book. I can generally find it because I know roughly where to look, and can even remember whether it was on a right or left hand page. I would not even try this on an e-book.

Set of A.A. Milne Pooh Books first editionsAdd to the mix the tactile experience, the cover design, the feel, the experience of reading a physical book and you’re starting to scratch at the surface of the comparison. You could even say an open book is an open expression of one’s character just as music can reflect the literature of the heart. Heinrich Heine says, “Where words leave off, music begins.” A shelf of books or music says something about a person. Not everyone would agree I’m sure but I wouldn’t mind betting there are a lot of nodding heads out there.

Getting transported by being lost in a book or music is a real gift. This Christmas, don’t forget to think about either an expensive portable music devise (costly!) or a vastly cheaper option of a book as a present. A lovely first edition book might be that special something that’s totally unique and unusual.

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Childers- A Rare Thriller for Collectors

Childers – A Rare Thriller for Collectors

Collectors of spy thrillers might struggle to build up a collection if they start with one of the classics, The Riddle of the Sands, by Erskine Childers. It was the last and only spy novel he wrote! However, not to have his book in your collection would be to miss a trick. It is credited with being the forerunner of adventure novels that are based on facts yet remain true thrillers.

Published in 1903, the book predicted the threat of war with Germany and called for British preparedness. The thriller was set within a plot of a yachting and duck shooting trip for two young men which turns into an adventurous investigation into a German plot to invade Great Britain. It is credited as a a precursor of factual spy novels such as John Buchan, Ian Fleming and Ken Follet.

Erskine Childers (25 June 1870 – 24 November 1922)Erskine Childers The Riddle of the Sands

He certainly knew the military facts of the time. His first book, In the Ranks of the C. I. V. describes his accounts in the Boer War whilst he was serving with the Honorable Artillery Company in Southern Africa. His long descriptive letters were sent home to his sisters. The public’s interest in the war was growing and the letters were published in book format to some success in 1902. Childers then went on to collaborate with his colleague, Basil Williams, on a more formal book, The HAC in South Africa, which described the history of the regiment’s part in the campaign.

However Childers must have known there was a novel in him working on a script for The Riddle of the Sands since 1901. He had been a sailing enthusiast for many years owning several vessels since 1893. He sailed extensively across the channel and even to the Baltic, Nordenhay and the Frisian Islands with his brother. These wide sailing experiences along the German coast plus his wartime forays provided essential  factual material for his adventure novel.

The Riddle of the SandsThe Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers

The novel was published with wide acclaim and it has never gone out of print. The significance of the book is even more intriguing considering the context of the life and time of the author. The novel depicts patriotic characters who perform courageous struggles for king and country. Yet Childer’s mother was Irish and he had always been interested in the cause of Irish Home Rule. He took this up seriously after WW1. Although Riddle was an instant bestseller, Childers never wrote another novel. Instead he concentrated on military strategy manuals before entering politics and eventually becoming a staunch Irish nationalist smuggling guns to Ireland in his sailing yacht. He was executed by a firing squad in 1922, by order of the Irish Free State.

Childers describes the novel as  “… a story with a purpose” written from “a patriot’s natural sense of duty”. It is certainly a book of significance. In 2003 many centenary editions were produced: the Observer included it on its list of “100 Greatest Novels of All Time” and The Telegraph noted it as the third best novel of all time. It remains a hugely influential book in the spy genre – and certainly one to add to any collection of first edition spy books!

To view our first edition of the book go here

For more first edition spy books go to Ian Fleming or Alistair Maclean

 

 

 

 

 

 

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William Golding books inspiring light.

William Golding books inspiring light.

“At the moment of vision, the eyes see nothing.” writes William Golding in his novel of The Spire. A book which deals with the construction of the 404-foot high spire and is loosely based on Salisbury Cathedral. Indeed visitors to the tallest tower in Britain have carefully trod in semi- darkness. That is until a volunteer guide, Robert Stiby,  paid with his own money to have new lights installed inside the ancient scaffolding of the tower. Visitors are now able to marvel at the medieval structures. What has this story to do with book collecting you might wonder? As a bibliophile it is a reminder of the endurance and interest of classic authors.

William Golding (19 September 1911 – 19 June 1993)

Golding remains a recognised novelist, playwright and poet being ranked third on The Times list of “The Greatest Writer since 1945”. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1983 for his most famous work, The Lord of the FliesLordOfTheFlies. Golding wrote many fine novels yet it is this book which he is most remembered for.

Fine copies of the classic, The Lord of The Flies, remains attractive to collectors of modern first editions. Indeed it could be argued that “A collection of modern fiction would never be complete without it” (Connolly, 136).  As always the main factors affecting the appeal of a first edition book is the condition and the dust jacket.US Lord of the Flies

The first UK edition of The Lord of The Flies published by Faber & Faber in 1954. It features the iconic jungle artwork on the dust wrapper. The children trapped on the island blend into the wild, jungle environment around them.

The US edition was published a year later in 1955. It was not popular and sold around 2,383 copies before quickly going out of print. This makes it a rare find. The dust jacket of this edition has a more dense foliage and darker colouring than the British publication.

When writing The Lord of the Flies  Golding sought to “…illuminate the human condition in the world of today”. Almost as an echo to the past Canon Edward Probert, chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral commented on the new spire lighting. He states that, “…what was once clothed in darkness is now illuminated…”

To see more modern first editions and copies of William Golding books go here.

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C. S. Lewis- A Remarkable Life

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) A Remarkable Life

The William Nicholson’s play “Shadowlands” is currently touring the UK portraying the remarkable romance between C.S. Lewis and an American called Joy Davidman. It provides opportunity to be learn more about the personal life of the bachelor academic and author and to be reminded of the works of C.S. Lewis. His books have been translated into over 30 languages and sold over million copies. The interest in him and his books does not seem to wain.C s Lewis

Born in Ireland, as a youngster Lewis had an interest in anthropomorphic animals, mythology and Norse legends. These early interests developed into studies of theology, poetry, and academic to name a few of his talents. He went onto hold academic positions in Oxford and Cambridge University. He is probably best know for his epic series, the Chronicles of Narnia, of which The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950) is the most popular.

The Narnia books are some of the most sought after books by collectors. The works are all more valuable in their original state rather than rebound, particularly if the dust-jackets are well preserved. First editions of the Chronicles are often kept as a complete collection although individual volumes can achieve hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds, especially if they are signed. For example, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, first edition (1950) signed by the author, sold for £17,000 in October 2010 at the Bloomsbury Auctions. Or a price of £4,200 was achieved for The Last Battle, The Bodley Head (1956), first edition with dust-jacket, signed by the author at Sotherby’s in July 2007.The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis First Edition

Lewis’s other notable works of Mere Christianity and The Ransom Trilogy are also popular and rare to find in good condition with their dust jackets. The Heritage Auctions achieved a sale of $5,676.25 in April 2007 for The Ransom Trilogy, first editions (1938, 1943, 1945), in a dust-jacket.

C. S Lewis completed works remain valuable and collectable items. Yet it is charming to also see that the personal effects of this remarkable man are also valued. A collection of unpublished correspondence between C. S. Lewis and his wife Joy, sold for £4,025 in April 1966. Lewis achieved exceptional success in his literary career and Shadowlands shows that he achieved much in his personal life too.

To see more works of C. S. Lewis go here.

 

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Looking after your book collection

Looking after your book collection

When it comes to rare and antique books condition is crucial so it’s important to look after a book collection carefully. Here are a few tips in how to preserve your treasured books:

Storage:

Keep your books upright on a shelf – unless they are large folio sized and then it’s best to lie them flat. Be careful not to lean books which may warp them so use other books or book ends to support the books – but not too jammed together! Take care when removing books from the shelf so the spine is not pulled away first. This is especially true if the books are a little fragile to start with.

Check that the temBooks Imageperature of the room is constant – any extremes of hot or cold, wet or dry may cause problems with mould from fungi, drying out of fine leathers or bleaching from sunlight. Hot radiators or damp corners are obviously to be well avoided as is a “sunny spot”! The ideal temperature of the room should be within the range of 16 to 19 degrees centigrade and humidity within 45 – 60%. Preferably both temperature and humidity needs to be constant and not variable. Measuring the temperature and humidty can be done with thermometer of a portable electric thermohygrometre or hygrometre if needed.

All books should be handled and stored with care, in order to preserve their good condition or to prevent existing damage becoming even worse. Remember that modern first edition books printed from the mid-19th century onwards are often printed on mechanical ground wood pulp paper, which often has a high acidic content and can quickly become discoloured and brittle if not kept in the right conditions. A specialized clear jacket cover can be helpful to protect valuable dust jackets and avoid finger marks. Caution is required when eating and drinking around fine books! A note too about keeping books together – don’t use elastic bands to hold groups of similar books as these will dry out and become brittle – much safer to use a cotton tape. Needless to say sellotape and rare books do not go together!

Cleaning books: 

Books that are left on shelves for a long period will collect dust and this could encourage the growth of mould. Cleaning a dusty book is best done by carefully brushing a closed book’s pages with a soft dry paintbrush – brushed away from the book shelf to clear the dust away. As well as dust collection silverfish or bookworms may infiltrate a fine book collection. These can be identified by the traces of larvae droppings called Frass which is usually found under the spines of books.

Repairing books:

There is a large difference between light dusting to clean a book and repairing  a broken hinge or page tear! If your book has a problem with it carefully think before embarking on a restoration project – is the value of the book worth less than the restoring bill? If so then it’s probably not a great idea unless the book has sentimental value. It’s worth remembering that restoring a cover is not to make the book look new again, but to make it look good for its age.Ibsen's Peer Gynt illustrated by Arthur Rackham

Repair jobs are tempting – how difficult can it be to simply glue back loose pages! But of course, badly repaired bindings, hinges or covers will devalue a first edition or rare book. Seek a reputable restorer and they may well be able to treat additional damage, spotted or stained material to reduce further erosion from dirt and oils. Leather covers can have restored color and luster. Cloth covers can be cleaned with water-less methods and in some cases cloth can be recolored. However do check that any washing will not shrink dust jackets.  Bindings can be repaired by sanding down boards, gluing spines and attaching free pages to the cover before a final finishing of the cover – all not to be done lightly so a job for a skilled professional.

Remember the condition of books is crucial so a first edition book with no damage is more valuable than a copy with missing pages and weak bindings-  or even worse a badly repaired edition!

 

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Rare and Antique Books at the London International Book Fair

Rare and Antique Books at the London International Book Fair

Last weekend (27 & 28 May), Rare and Antique Books exhibited at the PBFA London International Book Fair – ILEC Conference Centre. These are our highlights of what was a successful two days.

Firstly it’s fair to say that, as booksellers, book selling is what it’s all about, so on that front it was a success. We Diamonds-Are-Forever-Ian-Fleming-1st-edition (6)sold two Ian Fleming first edition books, Diamonds are Forever and From Russia With Love. Both sold fairly early on so a good start to the Friday, having already put two books aside for Pom Harrington of Peter Harringtons.

We were also pleased to say that a Japanese buyer had arranged in advance to take a look at our early edition of Beatrix Potter’s, Peter Rabbit, who subsequently bought it, as well as our signed, limited edition of Arthur Rackham’s Book of Pictures.

We sold an early edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to an American buyer, a third edition of Dickens’ Oliver Twist and a few others too, so a good fair for us.

Such fairs are also an opportunity to acquire rare books and modern first editions, and we added some crackers to our stock. We specialise first edition Lewis Carroll books, so jumped at the opportunity to add a French first edition of Alice in Wonderland – titled Aventures D’Alice au pays des Merveilles, dated 1869; a rare edition and one that will be listed shortly on our site.

Among our other highlights of rare books purchased was an original first paper cover edition of Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, with the date hand changed by the publisher from 1885 to 1886, and a beautiful first edition copy of Bram Stoker’s The Lady of the Shroud. The Lady of the Shroud by Bram Stoker (15)Both too will be listed very soon.

With respect to the modern first edition highlights, we acquired a fine first edition, second impression copy with it’s original jacket of George Orwell’s Animal Farm and a first edition, first impression of Graham Green’s The Third Man, again with its jacket.The Third Man by Graham Greene 1st Edition

But it’s not really just about being a bookdealer. We met many interesting people, marveled at the specific and niche subject matters some punters collect books about (and there are some really unusual ones!!), made new friends and had some fun. Two days very well spent.

Being from Exeter, we even got home in time to watch the recording of our home rugby team – The Exeter Chiefs playing in the final of the Rugby Premiership at Twickenham. So proud too!

 

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Kipling’s Original Jungle Book

Kipling’s Original Jungle Book

The release of a new film about The Jungle Book has generated a good deal of interest in Rudyard Kipling’s tales of the jungle and allows an opportunity to reflect on the original story and influences behind this classic tale.

Jungle-book-two-first-editions-rudyard-kiplingInspiration:

It seems as if becoming a father inspired Kipling to write for children as he began writing the Jungle Book when he was expecting his first child. After living in Pakistan and London he was settling down to domestic bliss in Vermont with his new wife. Kipling dedicated the book to his baby daughter Josephine in 1894 who was, by then, just one year old. Five years later, both she and her father came down with pneumonia and tragically Josephine succumbed to the illness. A rare proof edition which was dedicated to his daughter was found in a collection of Kipling’s works that belonged to his second daughter, Elsie. She lived at Wimpole Hall from 1938 to 1976 and the book is now on display in Cambridgeshire there. Kipling’s loss was only heightened when he lost his son, John, in the first World War. The deaths left Kipling brokenhearted and he wrote in 1920 that “the pain gets acuter when peace comes because one thinks what might have been”. According to Kipling’s surviving daughter, Elsie, Kipling used to recite from the Jungle Books with the lights out in a semi-darkened room.

Imagination:

The Jungle Book stories was purely sourced out of Kipling’s imagination and his talents as an acute observer and storyThe -Second-Jungle-Book-1895-Rudyard-Kipling teller of life may have been honed in his apprenticeship as a journalist in Lahore, Pakistan. He admitted to one colleague that he called upon nearly everything he had “heard or dreamed about the Indian Jungle” to write the stories. Certainly Kipling had never visited the jungle area in India and appears to have been inspired by photographs and stories of his friends who had been there.  He may have been similarly influenced by the writings of Sterndale’s 1877 book, Seonee: Or, Camp Life on the Satpura Range and Robert Armitage Sterndale,  Mammalia of India.

Illustrations:

The iconic images which contributed to the success of the stories were taken from his father, John Lockwood. He was an illustrator, museum curator and art teacher and spent years in India. Rudyard Kipling was born and spent some of his early childhood in Lahore. His father had observed and drawn images of Indian jungle life in his book, Beast and Man in India: A Popular Sketch of Indian Animals in Their Relations with the People, which was published in 1891. He went on to contribute images to The Jungle Book and to Kipling’s later publication of Kim.First Edition of The Second Jungle book by Rudyard Kipling

Social History:

Kipling used more than just his imagination for the story plots as the books hints at Kipling’s philosophy of life and influences of the political and social setting of the time. The Jungle Book has a thread of “the Law of the Jungle” running through it which parallels the state of the British Empire and the politics in his day.The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, First Edition by Rudyard Kipling

The new 3D animation film by Jon Favreaux will attract new audiences and the ownership of a first edition copy of The Jungle Book might make a marvelous gift for those who enjoy the film. Looking at a first edition of The Jungle Book is rare reminder of the remarkable ability of Kipling to write a book that still hold attraction for an audience 122 years since it was first published.

To see more publications of Rudyard Kipling go here

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The First Treasure Island Illustrations

The First Treasure Island Illustrations

The thought of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island conjures up images of pirates and buccaneers of the sea. You would imagine that illustrations would be an essential addition to entertain readers of the book. In fact, the first publication of the story of Treasure Island contained only one illustration. This was in a seventeen weekly installment in the magazine, The Young Folks, from October 1881 to January 1882. Stevenson was a little known author then but he was keen to see the story in a book format. He approached several publishers with his draft. Cassell and Company of London realised it’s potential and published the first book version of Treasure Island in 1883, but without illustration!Treasure-Island-Robert-Louis-Stevenson (16)

The first illustrated version was said to be an American publisher, Roberts Brothers of Boston, who released the book in February 1884 with four illustrations by the artist F. T. Merrill. The print run was only 1,000 copies. Apparently Stevenson was not impressed by the drawings and describing them as “disgusting” to the American publisher, Charles Scribner, and for a later illustrated version encouraged the publisher to use the images of the later Cassell & Co edition.Treasure-Island-Robert-Louis-Stevenson-first-edition

The Cassell & Company employed a French artist, Georges Roux (1850-1929), who also illustrated Jules Verne, for this first English illustrated version. This was published in August 1885. There is some doubt about the authenticity of some of the illustrations and apparently two or  three of Merrill’s pictures are reproduced, plus one unidentified picture opposite page 260 in this publication.

Treasure Island First Edition by Robert Louis StevensonStevenson wrote to his father just before the release of the first English illustrated edition saying, “An illustrated Treasure Island will be out next month.  I have had an early copy, and the French pictures are admirable.  The artist has got his types up in Hogarth; he is full of fire and spirit, can draw and can compose, and has understood the book as I meant it, all but one or two little accidents, such as making the Hispaniola a brig.  I would send you my copy, but I cannot; it is my new toy, and I cannot divorce myself from this enjoyment.”

The importance of illustration for commercial purposes and reader delight was recognized in R. L. Stevenson’s time as much as it is today.  The illustrations of Treasure Island have been reworked many times including the famous 1930 illustrations of N.C. Wyeth’s and Walt Disney’s iconic images. The writings and illustrations ensure the book remains a favourite read today although more than one illustration is demanded today!

For more early publications of Robert Louis Stevenson see here

Ref: Robert Louis Stevenson, The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, 5: 145: Swearingen, Roger G. The prose writings of Robert Louis Stevenson. London, 1980.

 

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The Charm of the Little Dumpy Book

The Charm of the Little Dumpy Book

It was idea of the publisher, Grant Richards, to produce small, pocket sized books for children. The tiny size and uniform covers of a little Dumpy book contain charming stories and poems, each one a little different. One of the most well known publications, “The Story of Little Black Sambo” The Story of Little Black Sambo First Edition Helen Bannerman 1st Edition 2nd printingby Helen Bannerman, was first published in 1899. The Story of Little Black Sambo Helen Bannerman 1st Edition 2nd printingThe book was an instant success, running to four editions in its first year.

The Dumpy books were published by Grant Richards between 1897-1904. Forty of the little stories for children were released and seven larger Dumpy books were published later on.  E.V Lucas, a writer and publisher, was the selector of authors and illustrators of the series. He clearly had a eye for good children’s books. His selection of  the author and illustrator, Mary Tourtel for “A Horse Book” and “The Three little Foxes” is a good example as she later became the illustrator for the renowned Rupert Bear books. Also, Lucas went on to introduce his Punch colleague, A. A. Milne, to the illustrator E. H. Shepard who worked on the infamous Winnie the Pooh collection. A-Horse-Book-Mary-Tourtel-Dumpy-Books (10) A fellow critic, Frank Swinnerton, said of Lucas “Lucas had a great appetite for the curious, the human, and the ridiculous.” It certainly worked and the success of the Dumpy format encouraged other publishers to release small children’s books. A Fierce Bad Rabbit by Beatrix Potter First EditionFor example, Frederick Warne, issued it’s Beatrix Potter series in 1902 with similar success even introducing a novel wallet format book.

We take for granted the range and format of children’s books today yet it is lovely to look through a collection of these little books as a small reminder of the history of publication history of children’s books.

To see more Dumpy books go here.The Adventures of Samuel and Selina: 1st ed Dumpy book

The Bountiful Lady by T. Cobb: Dumpy 1st ed

 

 

The Sooty Man:1st ed Dumpy Book