N. C. Wyeth

Newell Convers Wyeth, known as N. C. Wyeth to the public, was an American artist and illustrator. He learned from artist Howard Pyle and became one of America’s greatest illustrators. During his lifetime, Wyeth created over 3,000 paintings and illustrated 112 books. The first of these books, Treasure Island, was one of his masterpieces and the proceeds paid for his studio. Wyeth was a realist painter and the camera and photography would compete with his craft. Sometimes seen as melodramatic, his illustrations were designed to be understood quickly.


One More Step, Mr. Hands by Wyeth, 1911, for Treasure Island

Wyeth was born in Needham, Massachusetts and was an ancestor of Nicholas Wyeth, a stonemason, whom came to Massachusetts from England in 1645. Later ancestors of Wyeth had prominent participation in the French and Indian Wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the American Civil War, passing down rich oral histories and tradition to Wyeth and his family. Many of this stories provided great inspiration for the subject matter of his art. His maternal ancestors came from Switzerland, and during his childhood, his mother was acquainted with literary giants Henry David Thoreau and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His literary appreciation and artistic talents appear to have come from his Mother.

He was the oldest of four brothers and as children they spent much time hunting, fishing, and enjoying other outdoor pursuits, and doing chores on their farm. His varied youthful activities and his naturally astute sense of observation later aided the authenticity of his illustrations.

His mother often encouraged his early inclination toward art; Wyeth was notably excellent at watercolor paintings by the age of twelve. He went to Mechanics Arts School to learn drafting, and then Massachusetts Normal Art Schoo, where painting instructor Richard Andrew advised him to become an illustrator, and then the Eric Pape School of Art to learn illustration, under George Loftus Noyes and Charles W. Reed.

When two of Wyeth’s friends were accepted to Howard Pyle’s School of Art in Wilmington, Delaware and Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, Wyeth was invited to join them in 1902. Pyle was the “father” of American illustration, and Wyeth immediately meshed with his methods and ideals. Pyle’s teachings often included excursions to historical sites and impromptu dramas using props and costumes, meant to stimulate imagination, emotion, atmosphere, and the observation of humans in action—all necessities for his style of illustration. Wyeth’s exuberant personality and talent made him a standout student. He admired great literature, music, and drama, and he enjoyed spirited conversation. Pyle in his teaching would stress historical accuracy and tinged it with a romantic aura. But where Pyle painted in exquisite detail, Wyeth veered toward looser, quicker strokes and relied on ominous shadows and moody backgrounds.

N.C. Wyeth in his Studio

On February 21, 1903, Wyeth’s first commission as an illustrator appeared on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. That year he described his work as “true, solid American subjects—nothing foreign about them.” It was a spectacular accomplishment for the 20-year-old Wyeth, after just a few months under Pyle’s tutelage. In 1904, the same magazine commissioned him to illustrate a Western story, and Pyle urged Wyeth to go West to acquire direct knowledge, much as Zane Grey had done for his Western novels. In Colorado, he worked as a cowboy alongside the professional “punchers”, moving cattle and doing ranch chores. He visited the Navajo in Arizona and gained an understanding of Native American culture. When his money was stolen, he worked as a mail carrier, riding between the Two Grey Hills trading post and Fort Defiance, to earn enough to get back home. He wrote home, “The life is wonderful, strange—the fascination of it clutches me like some unseen animal—it seems to whisper, ‘Come back, you belong here, this is your real home.'”

On a second trip to the West two years later, he collected information on mining and brought home costumes and artifacts, including cowboy and Indian clothing. His early trips to the western United States inspired a period of images of cowboys and Native Americans that dramatized the Old West. His depictions of Native Americans tended to be sympathetic, showing them in harmony with their environment, as demonstrated by In the Crystal Depths (1906).

Upon returning to Chadds Ford, he painted a series of farm scenes for Scribner’s, finding the landscape less dramatic than that of the West but nonetheless a rich environment for his art: “Everything lies in its subtleties, everything is so gentle and simple, so unaffected.” One of his paintings,Mowing (1907), created during this time, was among his most successful images of rural life.

In 1908, Wyeth married Carolyn Bockius of Wilmington and settled in Chadds Ford to raise a family on 18 acres near the historic Brandywine battlefield. By then commissions were coming in quickly. His hope had been that he would make enough money with his illustrations to be able to afford the luxury of painting what he wanted; but as his family and income grew, he found it difficult to break from illustration.

Wyeth created a stimulating household for his talented children Andrew Wyeth, Henriette Wyeth Hurd, Carolyn Wyeth, Ann Wyeth McCoy, and Nathaniel C. Wyeth. Wyeth was very sociable, and frequent visitors included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Joseph Hergesheimer, Hugh Walpole, Lillian Gish, and John Gilbert. According to Andrew, who spent the most time with his father due to his sickly childhood, Wyeth was a strict but patient father who did not talk down to his children. His hard work as an illustrator gave his family the financial freedom to follow their own artistic and scientific pursuits. Many of his children and grandchildren carried on lives of art and success.

By 1914, Wyeth loathed the commercialism upon which he became dependent, and for the rest of his life, he battled internally over his capitulation, accusing himself of having “bitched myself with the accursed success in skin-deep pictures and illustrations.” He complained of money men “who want to buy me piecemeal” and that “an illustration must be made practical, not only in its dramatic statement, but it must be a thing that will adapt itself to the engravers’ and printers’ limitations. This fact alone kills that underlying inspiration to create thought. Instead of expressing that inner feeling, you express the outward thought… or imitation of that feeling.”

By the 1930s, he restored an old captain’s house in Port Clyde, Maine, named “Eight Bells” after a Winslow Homer painting, and took his family there for summers, where he painted primarily seascapes. Museums started to purchase his paintings, and by 1941, he was elected to the National Academy and exhibited on a regular basis.

One of Wyeth’s many illustrated books

In 1945, Wyeth and his grandson (Nathaniel C. Wyeth’s son) were killed when the automobile they were riding in was struck by a freight train at a railway crossing near his Chadds Ford home. At the time, Wyeth had been working on an ambitious series of murals for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company depicting the Pilgrims at Plymouth, a series completed by Andrew Wyeth and John McCoy.

Significant public collections of Wyeth’s work are now on display at the Brandywine River Museum in Chadds Ford, and in Maine, at the Portland Museum of Art and the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland. The Brandywine River Museum offers tours of the N. C. Wyeth House and Studio in Chadds Ford. The home and studio were designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1997. The home and studio are open to the public for tours. His studio is set up as if he has just left — the palette he used on the day of his death sits by his last canvas.

Little Golden Books

Little Golden Books is a popular series of children’s books. You might recognize them from your childhood or maybe you read them to your kids – they have the iconic golden binding and tell many classic children’s stories. The eighth book in the series, The Poky PokylittlepuppyLittle Puppy, is the top-selling children’s book of all time. Many of the Little Golden Books have become bestsellers, including The Poky Little Puppy, Tootle, Scuffy the Tugboat, and The Little Red Hen. Several of the illustrators for the Little Golden Books later became staples within the picture book industry, including Corinne Malvern, Tibor Gergely, Gustaf Tenggren, Feodor Rojankovsky, Richard Scarry, Eloise Wilkin, and Garth Williams.

Lead of Artists and Writers Guild Inc., a division of Western Publishing, Georges Duplaix, in 1940 was tasked with developing new children’s books: Little Golden Books was the result. Duplaix had the idea to produce a colorful, more durable and affordable children’s book than those being published at that time which sold for $2 to $3.

Meanwhile, a shared printing plant made Western Publishing and Simon & Schuster develop a close relationship. In 1938, the first joint effort between Western and Simon & Schuster, A Children’s History, was published. With the help of Lucile Olge, Duplaix contacted Albert Leventhal, a vice president and sales manager at Simon & Schuster, and Leon Shimkin, also at Simon & Schuster, with his idea for Little Golden Books.

It was decided that twelve titles would be published  for simultaneous release in what was to be called the Little Golden Books Series. Each book would have 42 pages, 28 s-l1600 (45)printed in two-color, and 14 in four-color. The books would be staple-bound. The group originally discussed a 50-cent price for the books, but Western Publishing did not want to compete with other 50-cent books already on the market. The group calculated that if the print run for each title was 50,000 copies instead of 25,000, the books could affordably be sold for 25 cents each. Three editions totaling 1.5 million books sold out within five months of publication in 1942.

The involvement of Lucy Sprague Mitchell, an educator and founder of Bank Street Nursery School in New York’s West Village, gave a big boost to the series. As a strong proponent of realistic children books, Mitchell created the Bank Street Writer’s Laboratory, whose works became the new basis for the Little Golden Book series, with characters and situations that were often inspired by the very neighborhood where the Bank School was located.

As historian Leonard S. Marcus writes,

Mitchell had been in discussions with Georges Duplaix and Lucille Ogle as early as 1943 about the possibility of a special series of Little Golden Books written by members of Bank Street Writer’s Laboratory. Wartime shortages had delayed the launch of the series until 1946. The first two titles appeared that year: Lucy Sprague Mitchell’s The New House in the Forest, illustrated by Eloise Wilkins, and The Taxi That Hurried, coauthored by Irma Simonton Black and Jessie Stanton, with illustrations by Tibor Gergely.

In 1958, Simon & Schuster sold its interest in Little Golden Books to Western Publishing. The price of Little Golden Books rose to 29¢ in 1962.

Golden Melody Books were introduced in the 1980s, thewe were Golden Books that included a long-lasting electronic chip that played music every time the book was opened. Titles included popular children’s songs such as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and songs from children’s TV and movies including People in Your Neighborhood from Sesame Street and Heigh Ho from Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

In the year 2000, Encore Software produced a series of “Little Golden Books” titles for CD ROM, including The Poky Little Puppy, Mother Goose, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Velveteen Rabbit, Tootle, and The Saggy Baggy Elephant. These six individual titles were some of the first major software releases to be produced entirely in Macromedia Flash.

s-l1600 (46)Random House acquired Little Golden Books in 2001 for about $85 million. At that point, nearly 15 million copies of The Poky Little Puppy had been sold, including copies in various languages. On August 25 2015, Little Golden Books adapted the first six installments of the Star Wars saga and Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith became the first ever Little Golden Book in history to be based on a film that was rated PG-13 by the MPAA. Months later, on April 12, 2016, a Little Golden Book adaptation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the next film in the saga, also rated PG-13, was released. This opened the door for further Little Golden Books that drew upon PG-13 rated licensed film properties, such as the 2016 reboot of Ghostbusters, characters and storylines from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and even Jurassic Park.

Stop by the Little Golden Books’ website for an even more detailed timeline of the books.


Find a selection of Little Golden Books on our eBay site! 

The Controversial Works of G.A. Henty

George Alfred Henty, best known for his historical adventure stories that were popular in the late 19th century, was a prolific English novelist and war correspondent.

G.A. Henty was born in Trumpington, near Cambridge. He was a sickly child who had to spend long periods in bed. During his frequent illnesses he became an avid reader and developed a wide range of interests which he carried into adulthood. He attended Westminster School, London, and later Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was a keen sportsman. He left the university early without completing his degree to volunteer for the Army Hospital Commissariat when the Crimean War began.

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Depiction of the Crimean War by Franz Roubaud

Henty was sent to the Crimea and while there he witnessed the appalling conditions under which the British soldier had to fight. His letters home were filled with vivid descriptions of what he saw. His father was impressed by his letters and sent them to The Morning Advertiser newspaper which printed them. This initial writing success was a factor in Henty’s later decision to accept the offer to become a special correspondent, the early name for journalists now better known as war correspondents.

Shortly before resigning from the army as a captain in 1859 he married Elizabeth Finucane. The couple had four children. Elizabeth died in 1865 after a long illness and shortly after her death Henty began writing articles for the Standard newspaper. In 1866 the newspaper sent him as their special correspondent to report on the Austro-Italian War where he met Giuseppe Garibaldi. He went on to cover the 1868 British punitive expedition to Abyssinia, the Franco-Prussian War, the Ashanti War, the Carlist Rebellion in Spain and the Turco-Serbian War. He also witnessed the opening of the Suez Canal and travelled to Palestine, Russia and India.

Henty once stated  in an interview how his storytelling skills grew out of tales told after dinner to his children. He wrote his first children’s book, Out on the Pampas in 1868, naming the book’s main characters after his children. The book was published by Griffith and Farran in November 1870 with a title page date of 1871. While most of the 122 books he wrote were for children, he also wrote adult novels, non-fiction such as The March to Magdala and Those Other Animals, short stories for the likes of The Boy’s Own Paper and edited the Union Jack, a weekly boy’s magazine.

Henty’s children’s novels typically revolved around a boy or young man living in troubled times. These ranged from the Punic War to more recent conflicts such as the Napoleonic Wars or the American Civil War. Henty’s heroes – which occasionally included young ladies – are uniformly intelligent, courageous, honest and resourceful with plenty of ‘pluck’, yet also modest. These virtues have made Henty’s novels popular today among many Christians and homeschoolers.

Henty’s commercial popularity encouraged other writers to try writing juvenile adventure stories in his style; “Herbert Strang”, Henry Everett McNeil, Percy F. Westerman and Captain Frederick Sadleir Brereton all wrote novels in “the Henty tradition”, often incorporating then-contemporary themes such as aviation and First World War combat. By the 1930s, however, interest in Henty’s work was declining in Britain, and hence few children’s writers there looked to his work as a model

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A Tale of the Crimea

Henty usually researched his novels by ordering several books on the subject he was writing on from libraries, and consulting them before beginning writing. Some of his books were written about events (such as the Crimean War) that he witnessed himself; hence, these books are written with greater detail as Henty drew upon his first-hand experiences of people, places, and events.

Even during his lifetime, Henty’s work was a source of controversy; some Victorian writers accused Henty’s novels of being xenophobic towards non-British people and objected to his glorification of British imperialism in such books as True to the Old Flag (1885) which supports the Loyalist side in the American War of Independence, and In the Reign of Terror (1888) and No Surrender! A Tale of the Rising in La Vendée (1900) which are strongly hostile to the French Revolution. However, In Henty’s novel In Freedom’s Cause: A Story of Wallace and Bruce (1885) the hero fights against the English, and bitterly denounces the acts of England’s king, Edward I.

Henty’s popularity amongst homeschoolers is not without controversy. Quoting from the chapter of By Sheer Pluck called “The Negro Character” (“like children”), American television host and political commentator Rachel Maddow called Henty’s writings “spectacularly racist”. Carpenter and Pritchard note that while “Henty’s work is indeed full of racial (and class) stereotypes”, he sometimes created sympathetic ethnic minority characters, such as the Indian servant who marries a white woman in With Clive in India, and point out Henty admired the Turkish Empire. Some even accuse Henty of holding blacks in utter contempt, and this is expressed in novels such as By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War and A Roving Commission, or, Through the Black Insurrection at Hayti. Kathryne S. McDorman states Henty disliked blacks and also, in Henty’s fiction, that “Boers and Jews were considered equally ignoble”. In By Sheer Pluck: A Tale of the Ashanti War, Mr. Goodenough, an entomologist remarks to the hero:

They [Negroes] are just like children … They are always either laughing or quarrelling. They are good-natured and passionate, indolent, but will work hard for a time; clever up to a certain point, densely stupid beyond. The intelligence of an average negro is about equal to that of a European child of ten years old. … They are fluent talkers, but their ideas are borrowed. They are absolutely without originality, absolutely without inventive power. Living among white men, their imitative faculties enable them to attain a considerable amount of civilization. Left alone to their own devices they retrograde into a state little above their native savagery.

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Illustration from the novel Facing Death

In the Preface to his novel A Roving Commission (1900) Henty claims “the condition of the negroes in Hayti has fallen to the level of that of the savage African tribes” and argues “unless some strong white power should occupy the island and enforce law and order” this situation will not change.

A review by Deirdre H. McMahon in Studies of the Novel in 2010 refers to his novels as jingoist and racist and states that during the previous decade “Numerous reviews in right-wing and conservative Christian journals and websites applaud Henty’s texts as model readings and thoughtful presents for children, especially boys. These reviews often ignore Henty’s racism by packaging his version of empire as refreshingly heroic and patriotic.”

Despite the controversies, Henty wrote 122 works of historical fiction. Several short stories published in book form are included in this total, with the stories taken from previously published full-length novels. On 16 November 1902, Henty died aboard his yacht in Weymouth Harbour, Dorset, leaving unfinished his last novel, By Conduct and Courage, which was completed by his son Captain C.G. Henty. Henty is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London.


Check out our eBay store to find some copies of G.A. Henty’s novels!

Wizarding World Currency

The second movie in the Harry Potter prequel series, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald premieres in the U.S. tomorrow! With this new release fans are learning more about the magical wizarding world imagined up by author J.K. Rowling. It seems Rowling has thought up everything, from a wizarding judicial system, their own version of SAT’s, and even their own magical currency. In celebration of the new movie release, we are going to explore the coinage of the wizarding world. (For the purposes of this post, all references to specific coins are to replica coins based on the series.)

wwThe most well known wizarding currency is the wizarding currency of the United Kingdom, which consists of three different coins; in decreasing order of value, they are: Galleon, Sickle and Knut. They are gold, silver, and bronze, respectively. According to Rubeus Hagrid, there are 17 Sickles in a Galleon, and 29 Knuts in a Sickle, meaning there are 493 Knuts to a Galleon.

Around the edge of each coin is a series of numerals which represent a serial number belonging to the Goblin that cast the coin. The three denominations of wizarding currency were sometimes represented with the following set of symbols (shown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince):

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According to Rowling, the approximate value of a Galleon is “About five Great British pounds, though the exchange rate varies!”. This is consistent with the “textbooks” Rowling wrote for charity (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Quidditch Through the Ages), which states that GB£174 million/US$250 million is equivalent to 34 million Galleons (or 34,000,872 Galleons, 14 Sickles, 7 Knuts to be exact) and works out as approximately £5.12/$7.35 per Galleon.

Note that the Galleon/Pound rate cited by Rowling is probably that offered by Gringotts

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Gringotts Wizarding Bank

bank and bears no relation to the precious-metal value of wizarding coins. The “gold coins the size of hubcaps” mentioned in reference to the Quidditch World Cup would be much larger than the British five-pound Quintuple Sovereign today sold for its bullion value of hundreds of pounds sterling (though this hubcap reference may have been an exaggeration). However, it is unclear whether the coins were Galleons, or the currency of some other Wizard community.

Other wizarding currencies mentioned include, in the United States of America Dragot and Sprink, and in France, Bezant‎.

It should be noted that money in itself is one of the five exceptions to Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration, meaning it cannot be created from nothing. Aside from the Philosopher’s Stone which can convert other metals into gold there seems to be no other method of obtaining it. Attempting to duplicate money with the Geminio spell is also ineffective, as duplicates created from Geminio are worthless.

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Niffler’s Fancy


One of the most ancient forms of wizarding money, used by primitive wizards is
Niffler’s Fancy. Niffler’s Fancy is a plant whose leaves gleam like copper. The plant is named after the creature, the Niffler, because they have an affinity for shiny objects.

 

Other currencies that aren’t widely circulated include leprechaun gold and various other enchanted coins. Galleons made of Leprechaun gold were common at Quidditch games where Leprechauns are the mascots for the Irish team. These Galleons are occasionally in temporary circulation (they vanish a few hours after appearing), but goblin experts at Gringotts Bank can differentiate them from real ones.

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Dumbledore’s Army Coin

A particularly important enchanted coin was enchanted by Hermione Granger for the use of Dumbledore’s Army. The Dumbledore’s Army coin was a fake Galleon created by Hermione Granger in 1995 to inform members of Dumbledore’s Army when the next meeting would take place. The coins would come in quite handy throughout the Second Wizarding War and after the war were kept as badges of honour.

As it became more suspicious for members to keep meeting each other in groups in the halls to set up the time for Dumbledore’s Army to meet, Hermione fabricated fake Galleons, on which she then placed a Protean Charm. Around the edge of each coin was a series of numerals which, on genuine galleons, represented a serial number belonging to the Goblin that cast the coin. The Protean Charm allowed these numerals to change into the time and date of the next meeting of the D.A. whenever the master coin (owned by Harry Potter) was changed. The coin would also warm up to alert the holder to the change.

Hermione stated that she got the idea from Voldemort pressing the Dark Mark on the arm of his Death Eaters, summoning them. However, Hermione chose to engrave the date on the coins, rather than on the members’ forearms. Harry agreed that this way was preferable.

In 1998, Neville Longbottom used the coins to summon former members of Dumbledore’s Army to Hogwarts to fight the Death Eaters and reclaim the school. The former members alerted many others, including the Order of the Phoenix, and set the scene for the Battle of Hogwarts.

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The Battle of Hogwarts

Through wizarding coinage we can get a peek into the fantastical world of magic created by J.K. Rowling. The fictional currency is just one small detail that brings to life the wizarding world.

Kidnapped

Kidnapped is a historical fiction adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, written as a boys’ novel and first published in the magazine Young Folks from May to July 1886. The novel has attracted the praise and admiration of writers since it was published in 1893. Kidnapped is set around real 18th-century Scottish events, notably the “Appin murder“, which occurred in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745. Many of the characters are real people.

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Cover by William Brassey Hole

The central character and narrator of Kidnapped is 17-year-old David Balfour. His parents have recently died, and he is out to make his way in the world. He sets out to visit his uncle, Ebenezer Balfour. David arrives at the ominous House of Shaws and is confronted by his paranoid Uncle Ebenezer, who is armed with a firearm.

His uncle is also miserly, living on porridge and small ale, and the House of Shaws itself is partially unfinished and somewhat ruinous. David is allowed to stay and soon discovers evidence that his father may have been older than his uncle, thus making David the rightful heir to the estate. Ebenezer asks David to get a chest from the top of a tower in the house but refuses to provide a lamp or candle. David is forced to scale the stairs in the dark and realises that not only is the tower unfinished in some places, but the steps simply end abruptly and fall into an abyss. David concludes that his uncle intended for him to have an “accident”.

David confronts his uncle, who promises to tell David the whole story of his father the next morning. A ship’s cabin boy, Ransome, arrives the next day and tells Ebenezer that Captain Hoseason of the brig Covenant needs to meet him to discuss business. Ebenezer takes David to a pier, where Hoseason awaits, and David makes the mistake of leaving his uncle alone with the captain while he visits the shore with Ransome. Hoseason later offers to take them on board the brig briefly, and David complies, only to see his uncle returning to shore alone in a skiff. David is then immediately struck and passes out.

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Depiction of Alan Breck Stewart and David Balfour

David awakens, bound hand and foot, in the hold of the ship. This catapults David into an adventure full of greed, sickness, and murder. Accompanied by companions such as Alan Breck Stewart, the supposed murderer of the “Red Fox” and Alison Hastie a lovely innkeeper’s daughter.

 

Many of these events and characters actually took place. On 14 May 1752, Colin Roy Campbell of Glenure, was shot in the back by a marksman in the wood of Lettermore near Duror. The search for the killer targeted the local clan, the Jacobite Stewarts of Appin, who had recently suffered evictions on Campbell’s orders.

The Jacobite rising of 1745, also known as the Forty-five Rebellion or simply the “45” , was a dark attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart, and the House of Stuart. It took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, when the bulk of the British Army was in Europe.

The chief suspect of the murder was none other than Allan Stewart who fled (which after fleeing is when he in the novel, meets up with David). But James Stewart, one of the last leaders of Stewarts, was arrested for the crime and tried for the murder. Although it was clear at the trial that James was not directly involved in the assassination (he had a solid alibi), he was found guilty “in airts and pairts” (as an accessory; an aider and abetter) by a jury consisting of people from the locality where the crime occurred.

If you’d like to read the full harrowing and at times heartwarming tale you can purchase it here.


This post is apart of our 13 days of Halloween series. Checkout our other spooky posts:

  1. Washington Ghost Stories
  2. Out of Place Artifacts
  3. Henry Rathbone
  4. Charon and the Journey to Hades
  5. Post-Mortem Photography
  6. All Hallows Eve Divination Games
  7. Saved By The Bell and other Idioms
  8. Halloween Coins
  9. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
  10. Coins Connecting You to the Spirit World
  11. Ancient Egyptian Alien Coins
  12. Superstitions Around the World
  13. A Brief History of Halloween

Edmund Dulac

Edmund Dulac was a French-British magazine illustrator, book illustrator and stamp designer. Born in Toulouse he studied law but later turned to the study of art at the École des Beaux-Arts. He moved to London in the early 20th century and in 1905 received his first commission which was to illustrate the novels of the Brontë Sisters. During World War I, Dulac produced relief books and when after the war he turned to mainly magazine illustrations. He designed banknotes during World War II and postage stamps, most notably, during the beginning of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

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“She had read all the newspapers” from “The Snow Queen” London, Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd., 1911

At 22 Dulac was commissioned by the publisher J. M. Dent to illustrate Jane Eyre and nine other volumes of works by the Brontë sisters. He then became a regular contributor to The Pall Mall Magazine, and joined the London Sketch Club, which introduced him to the book and magazine illustrators of the day. Through these connections he began an association with the Leicester Galleries and Hodder & Stoughton. The gallery commissioned illustrations from Dulac which they sold in an annual exhibition, while publishing rights to the paintings were taken up by Hodder & Stoughton for reproduction in illustrated gift books. Books produced under this arrangement by Dulac include Stories from The Arabian Nights (1907) with 50 colour images; an edition of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1908) with 40 colour illustrations; The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (1909) with 20 colour images; The Sleeping Beauty and Other Fairy Tales (1910); Stories from Hans Christian Andersen (1911); The Bells and Other Poems by Edgar Allan Poe (1912) with 28 colour images and many monotone illustrations; and Princess Badoura (1913).

During World War I he contributed to relief books, including King Albert’s Book (1914), Princess Mary’s Gift Book, and, his own Edmund Dulac’s Picture-Book for the French Red Cross (1915) including 20 colour images. Hodder and Stoughton also published The Dreamer of Dreams (1915) including 6 colour images – a work composed by the then Queen of Romania.

 

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1910 Shakespeare’s Comedy of The Tempest Illustrated by Edmund Dulac

After the war, the deluxe edition illustrated books became a rarity and Dulac’s career in this field was over. His last such books were Edmund Dulac’s Fairy Book (1916), the Tanglewood Tales (1918)  and The Kingdom of the Pearl (1920). His career continued in other areas, including newspaper caricatures (especially at The Outlook), portraiture, theatre costume and set design, bookplates, chocolate boxes, medals, and various graphics (especially for The Mercury Theatre, Notting Hill Gate).

He also produced illustrations for The American Weekly, a Sunday newspaper chain in America and Britain’s Country Life. Country Life Limited (London) published Gods and Mortals in Love (1935) (including 9 colour images) based on a number of the contributions made by Dulac to Country Life previously. The Daughter of the Stars (1939) was a further publication to benefit from Dulac’s artwork – due to constraints related to the outbreak of World War II, that title included just 2 colour images. He continued to produce books for the rest of his life, more so than any of his contemporaries, although these were less frequent and less lavish than during the Golden Age.

Dulac also designed postage stamps for Great Britain, including the postage stamp issued to commemorate the Coronation of King George VI that was issued on 13 May 1937. The head of the King used on all the stamps of that reign was his design and he also designed the 2s 6d and 5s values for the ‘arms series’ high values. As well he contributed designs for the sets of stamps issued to commemorate the 1948 Summer Olympics and the Festival of Britain.

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Dulac Designed 1953 Coronation Stamp

 

Dulac was one of the designers of the Wilding series stamps, which were the first definitive stamps of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. He was responsible for the frame around the image of the Queen on the 1s, 1s 3d and 1s 6d values. His image of the Queen was rejected in favor of a photographic portrait by Dorothy Wilding to which he carried out some modifications by hand. He also designed the 1s 3d value stamp of the set issued to commemorate the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II but he passed just before it was issued.

Dulac designed stamps (Marianne de Londres series) and banknotes for Free France during World War II. In the early 1940s Dulac also prepared a project for a Polish 20-zlotych note for the Bank of Poland (Bank Polski). This banknote (printed in England in 1942 but dated 1939) was ordered by the Polish Government in Exile and was never issued.

Halfway through his final book commission (Milton’s Comus), Dulac passed away of a heart attack on 25 May 1953 in London. He is forever remembered as a prominent illustrator of the 20th century.


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Anne of Green Gables and Early Canadian Money

 

One of the most beloved fictional characters of all time is the Canadian orphan Anne Shirley. L. M. Montgomery’s first book, Anne of Green Gables, was published in 1908, the same year the Royal Canadian Mint began operation in Ottawa. Prior to this, Canadian coins had been struck by Heaton’s Mint in Birmingham, England.

 

 

Before the confederation of the various provinces into the Dominion of Canada in 1867, individual provinces issued their own decimal coinage, with Queen Victoria on the obverse. Early Canadian coinage was based on the American dollar, which had in turn largely been based on the Spanish silver peso. The one-cent coin was so light and unpopular that it had to be heavily discounted to be put into circulation. Prince Edward Island, the setting for most of the Anne books, issued its coinage in 1871. This one-cent coin from the initial minting year is an excellent example. The obverse of the coin is a fairly standard bust of Victoria, nearly identical to the one used on Jamaican currency. According to CoinsAndCanada.com, “The reverse was adapted from the official seal for the island. The central design shows a large oak tree (representing the United Kingdom) sheltering three smaller ones (the three countries of the island) with the Latin phrase PARVA SUB INGENTI (‘The small beneath the great’) below.”

 

The first national coinage for the new Dominion of Canada began to circulate in 1870; as each province joined the newly formed country, they discontinued their own coinage and began to use the official Canadian currency. Prince Edward Island, despite having been a strong proponent for the formation of the Dominion, was one of the last to join, finding the initial terms disagreeable. While the small island remained part of Great Britain, it also looked into becoming a dominion unto itself, and even joining the United States. However, in 1873, PEI joined the rest of the provinces in the Dominion of Canada and adopted standard Canadian money.

 

In the book, Anne lives in the remote town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island; while the exact time period isn’t stated, it’s generally assumed to be around the turn of the century. It’s possible that some of the older PEI coinage would still have been circulating locally, but it’s more likely she would have known the standard Canadian coinage of her time. The first coins of Edward VII were issued in 1902; the first five-cent coin of this type is especially of interest to collectors: the design used the St. Edward’s crown instead of the Imperial State Crown, which the public mistakenly believed was an error. Collectors hoarded the coins upon release, and they are often difficult to find. To prevent future hoarding, the design was changed to incorporate the more familiar Imperial crown in subsequent mintings.

 

table 1.JPGA study printed in Historical Studies in Education shows that teachers’ salaries in Canada rose from 1900 until 1913, when the onset of war and inflation reduced them dramatically. Recovery began around 1918, and salaries continued to rise from that point until the 1930’s. “Canada’s best-paid teachers were in British Columbia: on average and in current dollars, they earned $866 in 1910 and $1,466 in 1929; for Nova Scotia the figures were $291 and $721 respectively (New Brunswick’s figures were slightly higher than Nova Scotia’s, Prince Edward Island’s considerably worse).” Of all employed women of the time period, teachers tended to be in the higher end of payment, making more on average than women employed in manufacturing or trade and transportation. It’s no wonder that a poor orphan girl as intelligent as Anne would go for a career in teaching! Staying in Avonlea (and Prince Edward Island in general) would have limited her earning potential, but it was still her best option for being able to contribute to the upkeep of her beloved Green Gables.

 

According to the previously mentioned study, “CTF figures for 1910 compare all teachers’ earnings to the average ‘personal income per person in employed labour force’ (INLF) in Canada. In that year, Canada-wide, teachers made 69% of INLF, but there were vast differences among provinces. In British Columbia the figure was 134%, in Ontario, 81%, in Nova Scotia, 45%. Only in Ontario are these percentages given by gender for elementary teachers alone: male elementary school teachers earned 102% of INLF, and female, 70%.16 In another study, David Stager compares elementary teachers’ salaries, for Ontario only, to the ‘general wage index’ (the ‘average wage rate for selected main industries in Canada’). In 1901, both male and female teachers fell somewhat below it; by 1913, women were slightly above it, and men somewhat more so. In his 1913 book on Rural Schools in Canada, James C. Miller compared teachers’ salaries province by province to the average daily wage of a selected group of skilled and unskilled wage-earners. ‘The teacher, on average, and especially in the case of rural school teachers, finds a place in the wage scale just above that of unskilled labor and below that of the skilled trades,’ he concluded.” (For further reading about the buying power of the Canadian dollar during Anne’s life, please see this article from the Bank of Canada. Urban teaching positions almost always paid better, and were highly sought after, but almost uniformly required two to three years of experience of teaching. Anne achieves this in the book Anne of Windy Poplars (seen in adapted form in the movie Anne of Avonlea.)

 

Canadian coins didn’t change a great deal during Anne’s girlhood and teaching years. In 1911, the phrase “DEI GRATIA” was left off the coinage of George V, leading to a public uproar. The phrase was added back in as quickly as possible, and the old design soon became known as “godless coins.” It’s not mentioned in the books, but it’s easy to see Avonlea’s resident gossip, Rachel Lynde claiming the coins were a sign that the devil was afoot in the world!

 

While coins are not specifically mentioned in the Anne books, it’s easy to picture Marilla and Matthew counting out coins at the local store, or Anne carefully putting away a few silver dollars after paying for her room and board. Coins were an integral part of daily life at the turn of the 20th century, and thinking about them makes Anne of Green Gables feel even more real.

 

[Featured image credit TourismPEI on Flickr, used under CC by SA 2.0]

The Illustrations of Frederick Richardson

Frederick Richardson illustrated books during the great illustration boom of the late 20th to early 21st centuries. He’s best known for his illustrations of L. Frank Baum children’s books. (Baum was the author of the Wizard of Oz books, though Richardson did not illustrated these.) He also worked with Frank Baum and Georgene Faulkner.

Richardson started his illustration career when he went to school at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts and the Academie Julian in Paris.

Richardson's rooster from a Mother Goose tale.

Richardson’s rooster from a Mother Goose tale.

After his education, Richardson taught at the Chicago Art Institute. Later, he created illustrations for a Chicago newspaper and helped record history with his illustrations of the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. People were so impressed with his work that they sent him to the next world’s fair in Paris, the Exposition Universelle Internationale. He even published a collection of his newspaper illustrations in 1899.

From The Wee Wee Woman, available for purchase here.

From The Wee Wee Woman, available for purchase here.

After his stint in Chicago, he moved to New York City to make a career move to book illustration. The first book he illustrated was Queen Zixi of Ix, published in book form in 1906. This was his first break into the book publishing industry.

Coyote and persimmons, from a traditional Native American tale.

Coyote and persimmons, from a traditional Native American tale.

Richardson had a diverse illustrating style and worked with many authors to create pictures that fit the style and tone of their books.

Richardson even parodied Vincent van Gogh in a book called The Revolt Against Beauty.

When Richardson died in 1937, he was honored with a book of classic stories paired with his bright illustrations.

The Literature of G. A. Henty

G. A. Henty (1832-1902) wrote a LOT of books: over 100 novels and stories. He exclusively wrote in the historical adventure genre.

Henty’s interest in writing started at an early age. He often got sick as a child and spent his days in bed. With not much else to do, he read constantly and developed a wide number of interests.George_Alfred_Henty

Henty left his university without finishing his degree to volunteer for an army hospital; he was soon sent to Crimea, where he saw the horrible conditions of war. He regularly wrote home with detailed scenes of war. These letters impressed his father, who sent them to The Morning Advertiser newspaper for publishing.

With the war behind him and his letters published, Henty started a steady writing career by becoming a war correspondent.

This was helped along by his strong sense of patriotism toward his home country of Britain that he held for all of his life.

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This stunning copy of Through the Sikh War is available here.

Henty’s first published book was titled Out on the Pampas. The main characters in the story were named after Henty’s children. The book was written in 1868.

Almost all of his stories involved young men (occasionally women) living in hard times, especially during war. His protagonists all contained sparks of courage with strong moral compasses. Through all of his stories, Henty draws on his real-life experiences with war.

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This beautiful copy of Jack Archer is available here.

Despite the kind protagonists of his stories, some of Henty’s views sparked controversy, even in Victorian times, for xenophobia and racism. Perhaps this is why his books have not stood the test of time.

Henty had a brief stint of popularity with readers in the late 19th century, inspiring other writers to write in “the Henty tradition”. However, the period of popularity was brief, and people lost interest in his stories less than 30 years after his death.

Henty’s detailed war stories with spunky heroes sparked the imaginations of Victorian readers, and with the amount of stories he wrote, he certainly guaranteed himself a good stint of popularity. His books can now be looked upon as relics of the times they come from. 

The Cocktail People

Terry Gilliam (born 1940), a popular performer, artist and creator, and once a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, teamed up in the 1960’s with film critic Joel Siegel to create a book called The Cocktail People.

Only very few copies of this book exist. In fact, it took one commenter on Terry Gilliam’s own daughter’s blog to track down a copy.

We’re lucky enough to have this beautiful book available, and it’s a truly hilarious representation of Terry Gilliam’s unique sense of humor. Pisani Press published this copy in 1966.

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“In fifteen minutes this room will be filled with fascinating, lovely people from the four corners of the earth.” The book begins. “In four hours, when the last guest will have left, there will have been consumed in gin, vodka, scotch, and bourbon enough calories to feed a small Indian village for three full weeks. This quaint custom is called a Cocktail Party. And the people who attend? Of course, they’re the…”

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The book’s illustrations show caricatures of all the kinds of people you’ll meet at a cocktail party.

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After Terry Gilliam’s gig with Monty Python, he went on to direct such popular movies as The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. He won multiple awards and nominations for his involvement in film.

So, we have to ask: What kind of people do YOU see at cocktail parties?


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