On one of my recent antique hunts in one of my favorite shops in New Hampshire (the Glass Knob in the Centre Harbour/ Moultonborough area), I found these little books for kids. They are called "LOLLIPOP BOOKS," and they were published in 1949 by "John Martin's House," James and Jonathan Co. out of Wisconsin. I was able to dig up this Time Magazine article from 1932 that gives some information about who John Martin was (at the time of the article, anyway, real name, Morgan Von Roorbach Shepard). According to the information I have so far, John Martin loved children, and published for them, including a magazine, but had no children of his own.
I love the period illustration along with the period ink palette. The "slightly-off-registration" print job adds to the charm.
I have a fondness for books like these. My own home library was what these books were all about for me: inexpensive reads picked up on the fly for pennies-- Golden Books, Miss Francis Ding Dong School Books, and others of that vintage--read over and over again. Most of my books as a child cost all of about twenty-five cents a piece. One can only wonder what each of these little books went for, though I would guess they were sold as a collection.
The size of these books makes them especially charming. They are roughly three by four inches each. I haven't taken the time to actually read them because I am so enamored with the design and feel of the lot of them, that I just want to hold the books and think about ways to design and decorate with them, maybe combined with some vintage fabrics and toys.
They practically fit into the palm of my hand. Perhaps I need a miniature kid's room? It's hard not to wonder who owned these little books as a child. Did he/she love them? Or did they get tossed into a dark place, only to resurface in 2009? I think the latter. There is some staining and surface wear, but the bindings are quite tight. I would venture a guess that these books were not read much.
I design retro fabrics using these bright process colors from the 40s and 50s whenever I can. It would be nice to set up a display using the books, some vintage chotchkas, and fabrics--preferably my own. That will be next. One of the things I love is that items from earlier times go well together because of a much less sophisticated printing process along with fewer colors available. It is easy to set up theme displays using items from the same period. If I do, I will post those on Design Rocket.
Apparently this publisher also published A Big Book For Little Folk, in 1919. I wonder if he billed this small collection as Little Books for Big Folk? Hey--I guess that would be I! In the meantime, I would love some more information about these books and this publisher. Email me if you can add something to this story.