Once there was a book…

Spot the difference mini-game!

We’re switching things up a bit for today’s post to bring you a special edition of a classic children’s game (Baldwin style). One of these is not like the other…can you spot the difference?




Top: 1887, George Routledge & Sons: London. 23h49311

Bottom: 1900, Frederick Warne & Co.: London. 23h49312

Walter Crane was a prominent illustrator during the Golden Age of Children’s Literature, and was known for his decorative borders and Pre-Raphealite background. Crane was also part of the ‘Nursery Triumvirate’—which included well-known illustrators Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway. These three alone produced most of the colorful nursery literature from the mid-late 19th century. Crane’s Baby’s Own Aesop is one example of his nursery books with coloring by the famed English wood engraver and color printer Edmund Evans (who also worked with Randolph Caldecott and Kate Greenaway). Because Crane both wrote and illustrated his books, the cover art became inseparable from the book as he believed cover art was part of the book instead of an ancillary drawing that encouraged you to purchase the book. When Baby’s Own Aesop‘s copyright expired, and other publishers could market and print the book, it was necessary for subsequent publisher Frederick Warne and Co. to keep the original cover art while deleting the former publisher’s name.

But that’s not all.

It’s interesting how such a seemingly small change of deleting text caused a chain effect of more differences in detail (though not as immediately noticeable) in the Warne edition. As you can see above, the dimensions of the door frame were shortened while the front step becomes thicker. Even the height of the bordered bird relief was reduced. Why not just leave out the publisher’s name without making other adjustments? We’ll never really know, but it might have been done in order to set the Warne edition apart—even if the changes weren’t striking.




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This entry was posted on August 29, 2014 by in Children's Literature, Paratexts and tagged .
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