Rare six pence Chapbook with all Illustrations hand-colored in multiple colors

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[Chapbook] The Old Woman and Her Pig. Derby, England: Thomas Richardson, 1837.

Binding: Wrapper with pages sewn in.

[16] p. Size: Around 7" or slightly taller - Duodecimo (12mo). 9 illustrations (including one pasted down on the front cover of the wrapper), hand-colored with watercolors.

An exceedingly rare chapbook published by Thomas Richardson, whose printing included a number of tales for children. Not listed in Osborne or Meriton.

The printing and binding are unusual, in that the pages were only printed on one side of the sheet so that there are two facing pages with text and illustration, followed by two blank facing pages, then two with text, etc. The text begins and ends on the insides of the front and rear cover, then are on one side of three sheets bound together by stitching. Based upon John Meriton’s discussion of printing methods in his Small Books for the Common Man, it appears that the pages for a single book were printed with one forme on one side of the sheet with only one-third used for a single book. (This is similar to his I.18.1 Imposition Scheme on p. 924, which produces six pages in one-third of one side. Thus, the internal pages for three copies could be cut from one sheet.) Although I don’t find Meriton discussing this, it appears printing all of the pages on the same side would make things easier for the colorist, who would be hand-coloring the pages on only one side of the full sheet and coloring pages for three books at a time. The wrapper is printed on heavier stock with the inside front and rear cover used for the first and last page of the text (again, printed on the same side of the sheet). The colored illustration for the front cover is pasted on, since it would be on the other side of the sheet being hand-colored. The wrapper and internal pages are then stitched together to create the book.

Meriton’s census of the total of 966 chapbooks (or pamphlets) held by the National Art Library within the Victoria and Albert Museum indicates the duodecimo (12mo) size of the book is pretty standard. He reports that 58% of the books for which formats have been identified are 12mo (Table 3, p. 913).  However, he provides evidence that Richardson’s production of this book was out of the normal and on the expensive side. The price on the front cover of the wrapper is sixpence and out of the 177 books in his census that identified a price, only one of them was priced that high. The typical price was 1 or 2 pence (73% of the 177 books) (Table 12, p. 918) and a 16 page book (if we include the wrapper in the page count) was typically 1/2 or 1 pence (Table 15, p. 919). Also, the number of pamphlets with hand-colored illustrations on one forme accounted for only 2.6% of the total (Table 13, p. 917). Books that were hand-colored are also rare. Only 61 of the pamphlets (6.3%) had some form of coloring and most of those were “simple and rather crude,” done “using simple brush strokes and restricted to one or two colors. The hand-coloring in this book is more carefully done (probably using stencils) and includes a total of ten colors (red, yellow, light yellow, brown, blue, light blue, green, light green, khaki green, and flesh-tone), with as many as eight in a single illustration. Every page has a colored illustration (plus the pasted-on image on the front cover), which is also unusual. Meriton found only six pamphlets in the National Art Library’s collection were hand-colored throughout (which is only 0.06% of the 966 held).

There are no copies currently for sale and a check of WorldCat and the online catalogs of for the Osborne Collection, the British Library and National Art Library failed to find any holdings of this work.

The entry for Thomas Richardson in Judith St. Johns’ The Osborn Collection of Early Children’s Books identifies him as a “Roman Catholic printer and bookseller, Friar Gate, Derby.” It appears he began his printer career in a partnership, Richardson & Handford, in 1818 and that he was in “the business of printing, bookselling and binding” (p. 492). After the partnership dissolved, he published under his own name before going into partnership with his son in 1843.

Shipped Weight: 0 lbs 2 oz.

Note: Additional pictures of the book are available from my website's listing. Click on the link to view those pictures and/or to order the book. Trade discount of 20% available for other IOBA members by using the code provided in my member listing.

Inventory No: 1227.