In honour of back to school my brain tour is about vintage children's textbooks. Years ago we came across some old textbooks at a recycling depot. They had arrived there when the depot had opened and we were the first people that had asked if they had any old textbooks. We had to climb up a stack of boxes about 4' high and over to the back wall about 20'. There were at least 10 boxes of old textbooks. After going through all of the boxes we had a cardboard box full of books. When we went to pay for them I asked the fellow how much did we owe. He said to make an offer. Thinking that all I could afford at the time was $5.00 I offered that amount. He responded with "Oh that's too much, how about $2.00." We paid him and that began our collection of vintage textbooks.
These three illustrations are from "The F-U-N Book", first published in 1923. This is the thirtieth printing - 1952. Maud and Miska Petersham are the husband and wife team that did the illustrations for this textbook. They illustrated many beautiful children’s books throughout their career.
I love the absurd silliness of a musical duck wearing shoes and socks. She is made a little more serious and respectable with her medieval headdress. The mixing of different costume time lines makes this illustration comic and approachable. This is pure fantasy, not just an historical representation of an era.A bird's nest is his castle! The attention to detail is delightful.
The following two illustrations and the end papers are from "The Work-Play Books, Make and Make- Believe", published in 1937 with illustrations by George M. Richards.
The end papers of the textbook are quite soiled, but I have managed to put together a composite image so that you can see it uninterrupted. Click on the image for a better look.
There is a joyous sense of childhood depicted in the illustrations.