Author Archives: Laura Wasowicz

About Laura Wasowicz

Curator of Children's Literature, American Antiquarian Society

The Acquisitions Table: Bobby’s Teeth

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Sarah E. Chester.  Bobby’s Teeth.  New York: American Tract Society, ca. 1873. (Swallow Stories.) This cute chromolithographed label of a little boy decorates the cover of a humorous tale about little Bobby, who according to the book’s narrator, has teeth as “white as snow” and “even as a row of pins.” Unfortunately, Bobby uses his teeth ...

Christmas Comes of Age in Carolyn Wells’s Christmas Alphabet

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Although Clement Clarke Moore is now recognized as the celebrated Christmas poet, early twentieth-century writer Carolyn Wells (1862-1942) expanded on Moore’s vision of Christmas as a season of wholesome family-centered celebration in her Christmas Alphabet. Issued by New York picture book publisher McLoughlin Brothers in 1900, the Christmas Alphabet weaves evocative verse and gorgeous full-color ...

The Acquisitions Table: Daisy’s Death

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Aunt Fanny (Frances Barrow). Daisy’s Death. Buffalo: Breed & Lent, ca. 1866-1872. Frances Barrow (1822-1894) authored some thirty books in the “Aunt Laura” and “Aunt Fanny” series, published in miniature format by Breed, Butler & Co. and its successor, Breed & Lent. Daisy’s Death is about Daisy, an older cat who has kittens, although she is ...

The Acquisitions Table: A Present for the Young

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A Present for the Young. New York: D. Waugh and T. Mason for the Sunday School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1833. This wonderfully detailed hand-colored wood engraving is the frontispiece to A Present for the Young and illustrates the role of the family as the epicenter of literacy and civilization. Note the family gathered around ...

The Acquisitions Table: Aladdin

Aladdin

Aladdin.  Cincinnati: Peter G. Thomson, ca. 1877-1889. Although McLoughlin Bros. dominated American picture book publishing in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, they were not without worthy competitors; among them was Peter Gibson Thomson (1851-1931).  This lusciously chromolithographed version of Aladdin sports a marvelous palette of colors and shades, and was probably the work of ...

The Acquisitions Table: Afternoon Tea

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Afternoon Tea: Rhymes for Children. New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons; London: Frederick Warne and Co., ca. 1880. This delicate color-printed illustration of children at play is taken from a book of children’s poetry published jointly in New York and London by the England-based houses of Thomas Nelson and Sons and Frederick Warne.  Both publishers were ...

The Acquisitions Table: The Death and Burial of Poor Cock Robin

Poor Cock Robin

The Death and Burial of Poor Cock Robin.  Philadelphia: Davis, Porter & Coates, ca. 1866-1868. This poignantly humorous image of the owl digging departed Cock Robin’s grave is taken from an “indestructible” picture book that had its pages reinforced with cloth for the hard use of young and eager hands.  This hand-colored wood engraving is characteristic ...

The Acquisitions Table: New Little Mittens

New Little Mittens

Barrow, Frances. New Little Mittens. New York & London: D. Appleton and Co., 1869. This wood-engraved frontispiece is a comic scene set in the culture clash between a Chinese gentleman going out for a stroll, and an ignorant American sailor who pulls his queue and says “My stars and stripes! What a long tail our pussy ...

The Acquisitions Table: Reynard the Fox

Reynard the Fox. After the German Version of Goethe by Thomas James Arnold. London: Trubner & Co.; New York: Theo. Stroeffer, 1870. This is a folio format edition of the celebrated animal adventurer Reynard the Fox. This luxurious metal engraving of Reynard reclining after a busy day of hunting prey was engraved by Rudolph Kahn after ...

Santa and the Christmas Tree in Nineteenth-Century American Children’s Books

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Although we might think of Santa and an evergreen Christmas tree as inevitably wedded in nineteenth-century children’s book illustration, that was not necessarily the case.  Until about 1840, New Year’s Day was favored over Christmas as the family-appropriate winter holiday in the young American Republic, particularly in New England, where the descendants of the Puritans ...