The first day of school seems like the perfect opportunity to share some of my vintage and antique textbooks. Many schoolkids are carrying personal electronic devices to school this year as their textbooks, which makes me even more sentimental about these beautifully created old books. Can't imagine there'll be anything to even look over in 50 years from my kids' education :(
I've got two very old books from the 1800's. Don't remember how they came to me. (Unfortunate side effect of buying and selling vintage items).
One is a Fourth Reader, and the other a Child's Health Primer. The Fourth Reader was published in 1892 by D.D. Merrill in St. Paul, MN. It's labeled as The Minnesota Text-Book Series. Bet it's a collectible. I just love it for it's lithographed illustrations and beautiful, old cover.
The Child's Health Primer's date is unfortunately covered up in the next book, but it's very obvious who it's owner was:
Essie Palmer must have owned this book for most of her life, because it reflects many stages of her life. She probably started learning about health in school. The book was endorsed by the Scientific Department of the Women's Christian Temperance Union of the United States. Textbooks always have a slant, don't they?
She must have had this book through her primary years into her older years, because it covers all ages of health and biology. She must have gotten bored in class one day, because she wrote 14 pages of sweetheart boy/girl matchups in the margins. Any of these names sound like your grandpas and grandmas?
I wonder if Essie ever married Park...or even stole a smooch?
At some point, Essie must have learned everything about health, because she started clipping newspaper articles and glueing them into the book. Everything she wanted to remember, all in one place, (pre-Pinterest). She's got recipes in the front:
And everything about cows, bees, poultry, and a small pox cure in the back:
What to do about a "caked udder", or "stringy milk", how to "work among the bees", how to build a roosting device, and even a small pox cure that involves drinking cream of tartar in hot water. Sometimes the old ways can be new again...
Essie's Child's Health Primer kept me entertained for quite a while!
But my favorite old textbooks are the ones from the 40's and 50's that contain beautiful illustrations that must have taken artists years to create.
I even love the muted colors of their covers.
Inside the cover is where you'll find the School District number, the book number for the teacher to keep track, and sometimes the name of the student. You'll be able to tell if the student wrote their own name, or the teacher did it for them.
Thank goodness someone disregarded the "Discard" order on this one!
The Publishing Companies vary. Some of them still exist today; recognize Scott, Foresman and Company?
Sometimes there is a group of artists who have done the illustrations, and you can tell the different styles. I prefer the books who have one or two illustrators and look consistent throughout the pages. I love the artist's style in The Health Parade book. I could frame each page.
It's interesting to see the similarities and differences in what children were taught about health then vs. now. Our kids are still taught how to cover their coughs and sneezes, yet back then, they were to use their handkerchief. They're probably still being taught some manners, but don't think setting the table for company with a linen cloth is part of any curriculum now!
In past years, I would use these vintage books when painting wall murals. I've got all kinds of post-it notes inserted on pages with different types of trees, vintage cars and boats, barns, animals, etc.
The Social Studies books are fun to look at to see the progress we've made in transportation, communication, business, farming, etc.
By the late 40's, the books start containing photographs and diagrams, along with the illustrations. It's really a pleasing combination.
I love nature and old books with pictures of birds, bugs, trees, animals. The Children's Guide to Knowlege is a book I can put on an easel and enjoy as art. I saved the best for last. Just the opening page with the little girl praying next to the animals makes me say, "Ohhh, sweet".
From domestic pets, to farm animals, to exotic creatures from far away. The colors are vibrant, and the pictures beautiful.
Enjoy an old book today! And if you're needing some cute ones to decorate with, make sure to check out our on-line store. We're filling it back up with Fall goodness today. We can send them right to your door!
Linking this post up with these parties:
Adirondack Girl @ Heart, Vintage Charm
Knick of Time, Talk of the Town