Sunday, February 05, 2012

1880’s Print Run

Randolph Caldecott not only illustrated songs and poems, such as ‘John Gilpin’s Ride’ and ‘Come Lasses and Lads’, but also provided cartoons for ‘Punch Almanack’, works for ‘The Graphic’ magazine and illustrations for books by other authors - travel books and stories. He illustrated 3 books written by Julia Horatia Ewing:

 ‘Jackanapes’ in 1883

‘Daddy Darwin’s Dovecot’ in 1884

‘Lob Lie-by-the-Fire’ in 1885
  The advertising on the back cover of ‘Daddy Darwin’s Dovecot’ gives printed copies of ‘Jackanapes’ as ‘Thirty-fourth Thousand’ and on the back of Lob Lie-by-the-Fire as ‘60th Thousand’ with Daddy Darwin’s Dovecott as ‘40th Thousand’. They sure were popular!

I’m very curious to discover how many copies were printed in an average first print run of a children’s book in these times. One has to remember, however, that many English colonies did not have well established publishers of children’s books, so a large quantity would have been exported (less than 50 children’s books were published in Australia before 1890), and America was also a ready market. These books were published in London by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and E. And J.B.Young and Co in New York, but were all engraved and printed by Edmund Evans in London.

I always love drawings which are used for, or incorporate, capitals to start chapters, as Caldecott provided in ‘Daddy Darwin’s Dovecot’:

Here's the Frontispiece from ‘Daddy Darwin’s Dovecot’:

and an illustration from ‘Lob Lie-by-the-Fire’:

Don’t you love the rich ink colour on off-white paper?

You'll find more images of elderly books on my Writing for Children website in the History of Books section, and I've also provided some pictures and an account of the work of Sir John Tenniel - illustrator of 'Alice in Wonderland' and Punch

Peter Taylor

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