Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - February - 2007 Issue

Back to Childhood with Aleph-Bet Books

Aleph80

A Dr. Seuss "nude" on the cover of Aleph-Bet's Catalogue 80.


By Michael Stillman

It's time for a trip down memory lane with the latest catalogue from Aleph-Bet Books, number 84. Titled Children's Books and Illustrated Books, it is filled with stories and characters you will remember from days when life seemed simpler and happier. Of course it wasn't, it just seems that way, but Aleph-Bet has the books to bring us back to our imagined, mythical youth. So open up your imagination and take a look back at the world of yesterday. Do you remember...?

We remember L. Frank Baum for his "Oz" books, but Baum was a prolific writer with much more to his credit. Item 54 is Baum's 1903 book The Enchanted Island of Yew. This copy contains a full-page inscription to one Katherine Elizabeth Hubbard, a young girl whose aunt evidently requested the inscription. Writes Baum, "It's all about a Fairy Prince and the High Ki of Twi, and I am sure it is just as true as any fairy tale you have ever read." Priced at $12,500.

Item 63 is Prince Mudturtle, a 1906 book by Laura Bancroft. A little digging will reveal that Ms. Bancroft is none other than the aforementioned Frank Baum. Laura Bancroft was just one of several pseudonyms he used, along with his own name. This title is the first in the Bancroft/Baum "Twinkle Tales" series. $875. Five other Baum books under the Bancroft name are also offered.

Items 55 and 56 are a pair of Baum alphabet books, published in 1900, the same year the "Wizard of Oz" was first printed. The first is The Army Alphabet. $2,500. The second is The Navy Alphabet. $2,750. These books teach children their ABCs using rhymes based on the military services.

There are many more alphabet books offered. Item 2 is Our Auto ABC. Only wealthier children could have personally related to this work. It was published in 1912, when few people yet owned automobiles. The drawings display vintage-looking cars, ones that still looked more like horseless carriages than what we think of as autos today. $300.

Racial stereotypes were often featured in early children's books. Item 5 is ABC in Dixie. A Plantation Alphabet. Stereotypical characters and dialect rhymes are featured in this circa 1900 book. Item 5. $4,000. However, at least the illustrations are not such offensive black stereotypes as those found in My Honey ABC, another work from around the turn of the century. Not surprisingly, in this book "W" stands for watermelon. Item 7. $1,200.

If this will make Americans feel a little better, Australians were not above such stereotyping either. Item 44 is a 1919 Melbourne contribution, Mia Mia Mites by Muriel Pornett. It is the story of two aborigine children named "Fuzzy Head" and "Woolly Top." No more need be said. $400.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Announcing a new Books for Sale platform hosted by Biblio</b>
    <b>List your books simultaneously on Rare Book Hub and Biblio</b>
  • <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Exodus 10:10 to 16:15. Complete Biblical scroll sheet in Hebrew, a Torah scroll panel. Middle East, ca. 10th or 11th century.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Copernicus Refuted. (Astronomy.). Scientific manuscript of a course of studies at Collège de la Trinité, Lyon. 1660s.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Israel’s War of Independence and the Early Days of the IDF. 58 photographs presented to Israel Ber, IDF officer and later convicted spy.
    <b>19th Century Shop’s Catalog 170 Great Books and Photos. Please inquire for a copy.</b>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Early Unpublished Darwin letter on the races of man. Autograph Letter Signed [to Henry Denny]. Down, Kent, June 1, [1844].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Classic Image of American Slavery. Kimball, M. H. <i>Emancipated Slaves</i>. New York: George Hanks, 1863.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> (Underground Railroad.) Scaggs, Isaac. Important Runaway Slave Poster: $500 Reward Ran away, or decoyed from the subscriber…
  • <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Newton. <i>Philosophiae naturalis principia mathematica</i>. London, 1687.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Josephus. <i>De antiquitate Judaica.</i> Lubeck, 1475-76.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Carlerius. <i>Sporta fragmentorum, Sportula fragmentorum</i>. Brussels, 1478-79.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Fridolin. <i>Der Schatzbehalter</i>. Nuremberg, 1491.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Pinder. <i>Der beschlossen gart des rosenkrantz marie</i>. Nuremberg, 1505.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Isidorus Hispalensis. <i>Synonyma de Homine</i>. Nuremberg, 1470-71.
    <b>Bonhams, inviting consignments for Sep 27:</b> Durer. Sammelband including <i>Underweysung der messing</i>. Nuremberg, 1525-29.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 19: 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Sep 28: Printed & Manuscript Americana</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 5: African-American Fine Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 17: Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 19:<br>Art & Storytelling: Photographs & Photobooks</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Oct 26: Rare & Important Travel Posters</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 2:<br>Old Master Through Modern Prints</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 7: Autographs</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 14: 19th & 20th Century Literature</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries: Fall 2017 Auction Schedule</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Nov 16: Contemporary Art</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 5:<br>Maps & Atlases, Natural History & Color Plate Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Dec 14: Illustration Art</b>

Review Search

Archived Reviews

Ask Questions