Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - October - 2010 Issue

Children's Books from Aleph-Bet

Aleph-Bet offers 600 children's and illustrated books.


By Michael Stillman

Aleph-Bet Books has released Catalogue 95 of Children's Books and Illustrated Books. The overwhelming majority of the 600 items offered are described by both of the adjectives above. There may be an occasional item not targeted to the young ones, and some early children's items wanting for illustrations, but generally, kids and pictures go together. Certainly, they go together in the many fine works found in this catalogue. A few may not be so nice, such as propaganda for the Nazis, or works that displayed the prejudices all too vividly of the older generation that produced them. Nevertheless, most of what we find is great fun, often clever and humorous, and will take you back to the days when you, too, were very young.

Item 267 is described by Aleph-Bet as "perhaps the rarest" book from Johnny Gruelle. The author is Rose String Hubbell, Gruelle having provided the illustrations for Quacky Doodles and Danny Daddles Book. It is a story about a duck and a teddy bear and their friends. If Gruelle's artistic style in the 1916 book appears somewhat familiar, it is because he would begin publishing books two years later featuring his most famous creation, Raggedy Ann. Priced at $1,850.

Item 595 is one of those pieces of World War II propaganda aimed at children, though at least not one of the uglier ones. Instead, it is a very positive piece, entitled Pourquoi Aimez-vous le Marechal Petain? (Why do you like Marshal Petain?). Marshal Petain headed France's collaborationist Vichy regime during the war after France was overrun by the Germans. This circa 1942 bit of propaganda asked various French children why they liked the collaborationist (it, naturally, does not describe him as such) Petain. The book includes a picture of each child along with his or her answer. After the war, Petain was tried, convicted of treason, and sentenced to death, a punishment converted to life in prison because of his advanced age and one-time national hero status for his actions in the First World War. $500.

Marketing empty calorie foods to children is hardly something new, though it seems to have become more effective in recent years. Item 12 is the Alphabet Book of Coca Cola, published in 1928. Each verse promotes the consumption of the popular soft drink, with color illustrations reinforcing the message. "B is for Bottle, Baseball and Bat! Without Coca-Cola the game would fall flat." "B" is also for beer, as any baseball fan could tell you. $875.

Children's story characters have been enlisted in the fight for many good causes over the years. Here is such a cause - sitting erect in your seat. This circa 1925 poster employs Frank Baum's Scarecrow and Patchwork Girl to "Sit Erect. Like the Universal Girl." Universal girl is shown sitting in her combo desk and chair, one of those horribly uncomfortable contraptions people as old as I had to sit in for hours on end in school. The rhyme tells children to "Sit straight in your chair. / Be happy. / Live long. Hollow chests come from "slumping." / Slumpers seldom are strong." Presumably, six hours a day of this torture enabled "universal girl" to be strong, live long, and have a full chest. Item 91. $850.

Rare Book Monthly

  • Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Winston Churchill. The Second World War. Set of First-Edition Volumes. 6,000 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard. A Collection of The Pooh Books. Set of First-Editions. 18,600 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Salvador Dalí, Lewis Carroll. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Finely Bound and Signed Limited Edition. 15,000 USD
    Sotheby’s
    Modern First Editions
    Available for Immediate Purchase
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ian Fleming. Live and Let Die. First Edition. 9,500 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: J.K. Rowling. Harry Potter Series. Finely Bound First Printing Set of Complete Series. 5,650 USD
    Sotheby’s, Available Now: Ernest Hemingway. A Farewell to Arms. First Edition, First Printing. 4,200 USD
  • Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Potter (Beatrix). Complete set of four original illustrations for the nursery rhyme, 'This pig went to market', 1890s. £60,000 to £80,000.
    Forum, May 30: Dante Alighieri.- Lactantius (Lucius Coelius Firmianus). Opera, second edition, Rome, 1468. £40,000 to £60,000.
    Forum, May 30: Distilling.- Brunschwig (Hieronymus). Liber de arte Distillandi de Compositis, first edition of the so-called 'Grosses Destillierbuch', Strassburg, 1512. £22,000 to £28,000.
    Forum, May 30: Eliot (T.S.), W. H. Auden, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Robert Lowell, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, & others. A Personal Anthology for Eric Walter White, 60 autograph poems. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum, May 30: Cornerstone of French Enlightenment Philosophy.- Helvetius (Claude Adrien). De l'Esprit, true first issue "A" of the suppressed first edition, Paris, 1758. £20,000 to £30,000.
    Forum Auctions
    Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
    30th May 2024
    Forum, May 30: Szyk (Arthur). The Haggadah, one of 125 copies, this out-of-series, Beaconsfield Press, 1940. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Fleming (Ian). Casino Royale, first edition, first impression, 1953. £15,000 to £20,000.
    Forum, May 30: Japan.- Ryusui (Katsuma). Umi no Sachi [Wealth of the Sea], 2 vol., Tokyo, 1762. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Computing.- Operating and maintenance manual for the BINAC binary automatic computer built for Northrop Aircraft Corporation 1949, Philadelphia, 1949. £8,000 to £12,000.
    Forum, May 30: Burmese School (probably circa 1870s). Folding manuscript, or parabaik, from the Court Workshop at the Royal Court at Manadaly, Burma, [c.1870s]. £8,000 to £12,000.
  • Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Marx, Das Kapital,1867. Dedication copy. Est: € 120,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Latin and French Book of Hours, around 1380. Est: € 25,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Theodor de Bry, Indiae Orientalis, 1598-1625. Est: € 80,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviary, Latin manuscript, around 1450-75. Est: € 10,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    G. B. Piranesi, Vedute di Roma, 1748-69. Est: € 60,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    K. Schmidt-Rottluff, Arbeiter, 1921. Orig. watercolour on postcard. Est: € 18,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Breviarium Romanum, Latin manuscript, 1474. Est: € 20,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    C. J. Trew, Plantae selectae, 1750-73. Est: € 28,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    M. Beckmann, Apokalypse, 1943. Est: € 50,000
    Ketterer Rare Books
    Auction May 27th
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Ulrich von Richenthal, Das Concilium, 1536. Est: € 9,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    I. Kant, Critik der reinen Vernunft, 1781. Est: €12,000
    Ketterer Rare Books, May 27:
    Arbeiter-Illustrierte Zeitung (AIZ) / Die Volks-Illustrierte (VI), 1932-38. Est: €8,000

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