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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: antique books, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 6 of 6
1. About Us by May Gibbs

About Us by May Gibbs Published in 1912
About Us, by May Gibbs, London: Ernest Nister and New York: E. P. Dutton, 1912.

I’ve been looking for a copy of this since I saw it in Collecting Children's Books in 2007. My nine-year search came to an end when I walked into a second-hand bookshop in *Salisbury. I had no intention of looking for books or anything else that day. I had a hair appointment, and was anxious to get it done and get home. For once my train arrived on time thus I had ten minutes to spare before my appointment. What were the chances? I could hardly believe my eyes when I walked through the door of the bookshop and there was the book of my dreams. I had to stop myself hugging it to my chest! The bookseller looked slightly surprised by my reaction, but honestly it felt like winning a gold medal. My heart dropped a bit when I opened the cover and found someone’s ‘little darling’ had been busy with the crayons. In hindsight, it was a good thing because it was priced to take account of the damage. Actually, it was ridiculously inexpensive, which meant I could still afford to give the hairdresser a tip. I do like a happy ending!

Collecting children's books About us May Gibbs
Collecting Children's Books published in 2007 with black-and-white image of About Us.

About Us began life as Mimie and Wog their adventures in Australia. Written by May Gibbs under the pseudonym Silvia Hood the story followed the exploits of a girl, a flying kangaroo and a little black dog. British publishers, however, rejected the Australian setting believing it lacked audience appeal. Unperturbed May Gibbs tried again this time changing the setting to Edwardian London. In this new setting, Mimie renamed Mamie, and her dog encountered the Chimney Pot People and a group of flying bat like creatures called Smuts. This was more to the liking of the publishers, and the book came out in 1912. 

The following quote and accompanying image are from the original unpublished version of Mimie and Wog held by The State Library of New South Wales.

Hoppy called out 'Open your eyes', and there they were in a wonderful strange country – very wild with lovely flowers and such a blue sky.
 This is the new and "improved" version now called About Us.

About Us Mimie and Wog May Gibbs

Image from About Us written by May Gibbs

About Us written by May Gibbs

As they walked along crowds of pigeons flew around them. 
About Us written by May Gibbs

"We won't hurt you," cooed the pigeons. "Come with us to Chimney Pot Land," and without waiting for Mamie to answer they lifted her up and flew away.

About Us written by May Gibbs

All around were the funniest little people Mamie had ever seen. She though of poor Wog all by himself, and began to cry. The Chimney Pot King asked, "What's the matter?" "Oh, never mind that," he said, "I'll send my Smuts to find him."

About Us written by May Gibbs

About Us written by May Gibbs

About Us by May Gibbs Published in 1912

About Us written by May Gibbs

About Us by May Gibbs Published in 1912

Books from my Bookshelf - About Us written by May Gibbs


I don’t know about you, but I found the story rather odd and wonder if I might have preferred the original version. The illustrations are dramatic and interesting, and I’m thrilled to add it to my collection and to share it with you but it left me wanting more. If you are ever in *Salisbury, Wiltshire (UK), you should pop into The History Bookshop on Fisherton Street, you never know what you might find.  

Although this was May Gibbs’ first published book, it remains largely unknown to Australian readers who are more familiar with her Gumnut babies.

The Gumnut babies. Image credit Australian Children’s Literature

May Gibbs (1877-1969), author, illustrator and cartoonist, captured the hearts and imaginations of generations of Australians with her lovable bush characters and fanciful landscapes. Her iconic children's literature and folklore is still as popular as ever, holding a special place in the Australian consciousness. Best known for The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, she also wrote and illustrated many other children's books, produced long-running cartoon strips and a variety of commercial work. A fiercely determined woman, she was Australia's first full-time, professionally trained children's book illustrator, developing an uniquely Australian fantasy vernacular which is relevant now as it was then. In 1955, May Gibbs was appointed Member of the British Empire (MBE) in acknowledgement of her important contribution to children’s literature. [Source - State Library, New South Wales]

What do you think of the story / images?

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2. Books from my Bookshelf - Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales

This week I'm sharing another treasure from my bookshelf. When I found this almost twenty years ago it was in a very sorry state which might explain how it ended up in a charity shop. Thankfully, none of the colour plates were missing but the covers had suffered dreadfully. Covered in grime, falling apart and completely unloved I doubted it could be restored, but I needn't have worried because the book binder did an excellent job, and the book has smiled down from my bookshelf ever since! It still shows signs of its previous history, which is perfectly fine with me. 

The Peasant's wife at the door of her cottage reading her hymn book. 
(The Wild Swans)

Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales
First published in 1913
Publisher Constable, London
Illustrations W. Heath Robinson 

Yes! I will go with thee, said Tommelise, and she seated herself on the birds' back. 

We will bring him two little ones, a brother and a sister.
(The Storks)


The seventeen fairy tales are; The Marsh King’s Daughter, Tommelise, The Snow Queen, Elfin-Mount, The Little Mermaid, The Storks, The Nightingale, The Wild Swans, The Real Princess, The Red Shoes, The emperor’s New Clothes, The Swineherd, The Fling Trunk, The Leaping Match, The Shepherdess and the Chimney-Sweeper, The Ugly Duckling and The Naughty Boy.

She stood at the door and begged for a piece of barley-corn

Then began the Nightingale to sing
(The Nightingale)

Round and round they went, such whirling and twirling 

Suddenly a large Raven hopped upon the snow in front of her. 
(The Snow Queen)

"He did not come to woo her," he said "he had only come to hear the wisdom of the Princess"
(The Snow Queen)

The bud opened into a full blown flower, in the middle of which was a beautiful child
(The Marsh King's Daughter)

She put the statue in her garden
(The Little Mermaid)

All the images shared here are from my copy of Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales. This is just a small selection from the seventeen colour plates and more than eighty black-and-white drawings.

The Book Reader below is via Archive.Org, clicking on the link will take you to a larger more detailed version. Source: Archive.org, Public Domain (Digitizing Sponsor: New York Public Library)

 Hans Andersen's Fairy Tales with illustrations by W. Heath Robinson:

Source: Archive.org,Public Domain (Digitizing Sponsor: New York Public Library)

I'm going to be taking a short blogging break in a day or two, but I hope to visit all your blogs before then. I will be back at the end of July.  Thank you to everyone who visits me here, if not for you there would be no March of Time Books.

Me off on my blogging break with Terry in hot pursuit!

I leave you with this tiny posy from my garden. I wish I could share the wonderful aromas of Lilly of the Valley, Thyme, Daisy, Saxifraga, Veronica and Forget-me-not.  I know some of you don’t like to see cut flowers, but I promise it did no harm to the plants, and they will come back bigger and better next year.

Much love, see you soon. 

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3. I digress again...Weekly Geeks - Antique Books

This week the Weekly Geeks question is

The other day I was noticing the old books on my book shelf. Old, meaning books that were "born" a long long time ago. Books that were published AND printed a long long time ago. (Not simply books that have been sitting on our shelves forever!)And it made me wonder what old books other readers have in their collection.

So this week, write a post sharing with us what old antique books you may have on your shelves, and tell us the story behind them. Did you inherit from a relative? Are you a collector of old and rare books? Did you just discover a certain book in a used book store and couldn't pass it up? What's the very oldest book you have? Do you even like old books? Or do they creep you out? Do you read and enjoy your old books, or is it more a "look and don't touch" thing?

To which I reply
I have a lot of old books but none are what may be called antiquarian. For the most part, they are books I read as a child, either bought for me or handed down. None are valuable, except to me for sentimental reasons. I have a bunch of Nancy Drew books that were published in the 1930s and 1940s that can no longer be read because they are in such fragile condition. But they have had a good productive life, belonging to several cousins and a sister before they reached me. And I have 10 of the 12 Blythe Girls series from the 1920s and no idea where they came from, but I love them. And The Five Little Peppers books are there too. The one trait they all have in common is that they are series books and I have loved series books since the first one I read.

My two favorites are The Bobbsey Twins books and the Anne of Green Gables series because I have such great memories attached to them. My mother was a voracious reader as a girl and an adult and encouraged her own children to follow her example. When I was five I picked up a Bobbsey Twins book that belonged to my sister. She, being older, naturally had a fit when she found out that I had touched her stuff. So every Friday evening, my mother and I would walk down to Flatbush Avenue, in Brooklyn, to a little bookstore next to the old Dutch Reformed Church. I was allowed to purchase one book every week, but the deal was I would only get a new book when I completed the one I had previously bought. There were two things I loved about those Friday excursions. First, it was my special time with my mother, sans siblings. Second, I can still remember the smell those books have when they were opened. It was such a distinct smell, and even now when I dust them, the smell is still there. It must be a combination of the paper and ink. After a while, my reading expanded and I could buy Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames and series other books. You might ask why not just go to the library? They didn’t have this type of series books.

The story is a little different with Anne of Green Gables. When I was in the 4th grade, I became very sick and missed a several weeks of school. By the end of the second week, I think I was beginning to get on my mother’s nerves. I have never, to this day, been a good patient and my mother was a really patient nurse, so you can imagine what a pain in the neck I must have been was. I was left in the care of a neighbor one morning while my mother went off to do errands. It turned out that she had gone to the library and checked out Anne of Green Gables for me

4 Comments on I digress again...Weekly Geeks - Antique Books, last added: 11/28/2010
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4. Welcome to Molly’s World 1944: Growing Up in World War Two America by Catherine Gourley

When Allison was two year old, I bought her an American Girl doll. At the time, 1990, there weren’t so many to choose from and I picked Molly because her historical period was my area of interest and I liked the idea of a doll from a specific period in history, along with some accurate accessories and novels that entertain and inform. But I also bought Molly because I was afraid the idea of a historical doll wouldn’t catch on. So much for my business sense!

Welcome to Molly’s World 1944 is a companion book to the whole Molly project. However, unlike the novels about Molly, this book is a social history providing a look at life during the war as a young person might have experienced it. The American Girls collection included this same type of book for each of their historical dolls, though much of their historical material and even some dolls have now been retired. These are truly wonderful books for familiarizing young readers with the major components of each period, and in the case of World War II, that also includes a basic introduction to the horrors of that war – the fighting and its resulting casualties, the Holocaust in Europe and the Atomic Bombs in Japan – without overwhelming them or scaring them away from ever wanting to know more. Each section includes a minimal amount of explanatory text and a collage of topical photographs, maps, letters, telegrams and other types of documents to provide a real sense of life at the time.

But words never seem to do real justice to pictorial books and so I am letting some of the pages from Welcome to Molly’s World speak for themselves.

Each chapter looks at a different feature of the war and is divided into a variety of relevant sections. For example, Chapter Three “Taking Charge” covers the wide variety of things adults and children on the home front could do to help support the war. The next section describes the different kinds of jobs women took and the ways in which their daily lives changed because of those jobs – think Rosie the Riveter. There is a section on women in uniform, with a detailed look at the contents of a foot locker issued by the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). This is followed by a section on women in aviation, including an up close look at all the dials and instruments in the cockpit of a B-25 Bomber, which a female pilot in the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) would have to know all about in order to fly the plane. There is even a section on how pet dogs were volunteered by their owners to work in defense and the different jobs they performed.  Dogs for Defense is a little known facet of the war nowadays, but at the time, there were a number of books written for kids on the topic.

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5. A pictorial visit to Chetham's Library

At the end of last year, I paid a flying visit to Manchester, to see my dear friend. Sue of 'Mouse Notebook'. Apart from catching up with news, I was also treated to a grand tour of her 'workplace' - the magnificent Chetham's Library

Shall we?

I admit, that at the top of the stairs, when this Paradise of books opened up before me, I stood still and had a little weep. Only a true bibliophile will understand why. 

Visiting is free, but donations are always very welcome (indeed, needed). Visiting times and details can be found here.

And as the lucky guest of a Chetham's librarian, I was treated to a quick tour behind the scenes - what we might call 'the staff room'. I will let the books speak for themselves, they will do it more eloquently than I.

Another insight into the life behind the shelves - inside the inner sanctum of the office, where a colleague was examining a beautiful antique book of real (and very much imaginary) marine life. I think the publication date was the 1500's, I was too lost in the engravings to pay much attention.

My friend's colleague, who had been browsing the book on our arrival, tried to find a particularly spectacular creature he had spotted earlier. Sadly, like so many mythological beasts, it remained elusive, despite much searching.

On the way out, still breathless from the presence of soaring shelves of antique books, I spotted this -  as my long time friends and readers will know,  anything letter press catches my attention.

Here are small enclosed areas, rather like individual shrines to the blessed book.

There was a distinctly cathedral-like atmosphere throughout - a hushed reverence and the way the fragile winter light filtered through the windows.

Partially drunk on the rapture of books, I emerged into bright winter sunshine and braved the Christmas crowds and the train journey home. 

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6. A Book from my Bookshelf - The Cassell’s Annual For Boys and Girls 1914

I know lots of you enjoying seeing images from my vintage book collection so this week I'm going to share the delightful Cassell's Annual for Boys and Girls published by Cassell & Company. I had no problem in dating this one as the publisher kindly printed MCMXIV on the title page. If you struggle with Roman Numerals, there is a handy website here that will convert them for you. 

Tip – if you are trying to put a date to an undated book, one way is to visit COPAC– a searchable catalogue which provides free access to the merged online catalogues of many major research libraries. You can often verify bibliographic information this way, but a simpler way is to take a good look at the book itself.  In the case of the Cassell's Annual the publisher offered 100 prizes in a Grand Painting Competition which closed on the 20th January 1915 (or for Colonial readers the 2nd March 1915). So it makes sense to assume it was published in 1914 in plenty of time for Christmas.

I've been spoilt for choice when it comes to images to share. The title page states there are nearly two hundred colour pictures. I hope you enjoy the ones I’ve chosen.  

The Adventures of Edward the Red Teddy Bear - The Aeroplane Wish 
with illustrations by Frank Hart.
Edward the Red Teddy Bear frowned and said, " If we'd lived about a hundred million years ago we might have met a fairy or something that would have given us wishes. Nowadays, we can't meet fairies because there don't happen to by any, but I don't see why we shouldn't have the wishes. Suppose that I and you and the Dutch Doll decide in our minds that we will take it in turns to have a wish, and that the two of us who aren't wishing will promise very faithfully to help the one who is wishing until his wish is quite finished!"

Another Frank Hart illustration for a story called The Suffragette Wish.
So they followed Nancy the Dutch Doll out into the crowded streets. When she found herself quite in the street, Nancy wondered very much in her mind what kind of things suffragettes did. And the only thing she could think of was to bite a policeman!

Mabel Lucie Attwell illustrates a poem by Margaret O. Carpenter.
I wrote a letter to my love - I used my very longest pen:
I sealed the letter with a heart and gave it kisses ten.
But oh, I let it lie about before I posted it, and so
the fairies stole it right away - I cried all night, I know.
Next day, with Podge, my darling dog, I walked a most tremendous way
Until I found the Toadstool Town, where naughty fairies play.
They laughed, and stared, and winked, and sneered, and made such horrid rude grimaces.
But I could tell they were the thieves by looking at their faces.
I said, "You've got my letter there! Now do be good and give it up."
But they played pranks which frightened me, and angered Podge the pup.
He made a rush, did Podge, and growled, and barked so fierce a "Bow-wow-wow!"
They fled, and left my note behind - I'll run and post it now!

Arthur Rackham provides numerous illustrations for several stories, including this one 
(The Two Great Pachas).
Many years ago there lived a famous monarch of Arabia named Ali Pacha, who ruled over a vast empire in the East. He had won so many battles and was so fearless and wise a man that he was known as "The Great Pacha."

The following illustrations are by Stuart-Barker- I haven't come across the illustrator before, but I think the images are enchanting. 


Abraham Huggs's Book of Drugs by Olaf Baker, artist not credited. 
Now it happened that, in the same town, there lived a very old and most disrespectable person called Abraham Huggs. He lived quite alone except for his owl Alexander, and his wild black cat Sputtles. A spitting, fighting, swearing creature was Sputtles, and not another cat or dog dared to come near the place. And Alexander wan't much better, and used to mope at day and hoot at night, and make himself generally disagreeable.

Belinda screamed with terror illustration by Florence Hardy
Then the Teddy Bear sized Belinda and set her on his toboggan. Just as he did so there was a dreadful growling, and twenty huge bears rushed out of the wood. The Teddy Bear started the toboggan down the steep slope of the hill. The Big Bears rushed after it, growling furiously. Belinda could hear them close behind, and screamed with terror. But the toboggan went faster and faster...

The Clock Illustration and poem by E. Dorothy Rees.
Tick-tock! What says the clock?
Bed-time it must be.
Take a light, say "good-night,"
And come upstairs with me!

Is that the time? Goodness I must away but I just have time to show you a picture of the book spine - irresistible don't you think? 

Thanks for your visit. I hope you enjoyed a peek inside this beautiful book.

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