The Acquisitions Table: The Comical Boys

The Comical Boys. Philadelphia: J.B. Keller, [ca. 1852]

John B. Keller, like his New York counterparts Philip J. Cozans and Elton & Co., specialized in publishing cheap picture books with brashly hand-colored wood engravings. Comical Boys chronicles the misadventures of boys, as in the case of poor Christopher Crow, who ran into a pump handle. The back cover has advertisements for Keller’s picture books, Currier lithographs, and the “Colored ABC or Mile-End Alphabet, folding up in the form of a map, with stout fancy colors”—products that blur the lines between art, education, and fun. Purchased from Philadelphia Rare Books & Manuscripts Co. Harry G. Stoddard Memorial Fund.

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