Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Adventures at the Library: Special Collections!

This is a post all about my adventures in the San Diego State Special Collections Archive...looking at picture books from the 19th century.


Did you know that you can TOTALLY go do that?! It's open to the public and wow, what a cool treat.

What was interesting about these picture books is that very few of them had author names.

“Freaks and frolics of little girls” (1887)

Most were fairy tales or other morality tales, solely for the purpose of instructing children on how to behave.

Think your hair picture book is unique? THINK AGAIN. This trope has been around for a very. Long. Time.

“R. Caldecott's first collection of pictures and songs”

Originally, the artwork was hand-painted.

“The history of Richard Whittington and his cat” (c. 1800)

And these stories were universal - there were many different languages of antique picture books!

“Die Nibelungen dem Deutschen Volke” (1920) by Franz Keim

And for antiques, they were still pretty darned awesome.

“Little Red Riding Hood: A ‘Pop-up!’ book” (1934)

“Revolving pictures: a novel picture book of dioramic scenes” by Ernest Nister (1892)

And at the end of my visit...I got to see something PRICELESS (well ok, it's actually worth like 2.2 million dollars but...)

Oh that there? That's just copy-edits by the Church on Copernicus's De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres).


So yeah. Libraries are cool.


  1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

    You'd think having birds nest in one's hair would be neat for a kid, though.