Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

Vintage children’s book illustrations from the British Library

Posted on | January 3, 2014 | 7 Comments

Last month the British Library released over 1 million images from a selection of 17th, 18th and 19th century books. The images are available on Flickr for anyone to use, remix and repurpose and they are a treasure trove for those of us interested in illustration. I spent quite few hours over the winter holiday trawling through the images and here are some of my favourite featuring books:

450a_childs_garden_of_verses_11139548473_13e0ce991f_o
Image taken from page 105 of ‘[A Child’s Garden of Verses … Second edition.]’

450childs_own_poetry_11099974953_7e0a8e6597_o
Image taken from page 33 of ‘The Child’s own Poetry Book. Written and arranged by H. G. G. With … illustrations’

450verses_for_granny_11169538475_c509d8d9c0_o
Image taken from page 91 of ‘Verses for Grannie. Suggested by the children … Illustrated by D. A. H. Drew’

450verses_for_granny_11249256664_ae44281950_o
Image taken from page 53 of ‘Verses for Grannie. Suggested by the children … Illustrated by D. A. H. Drew’

450artful_anticks_11305451815_d39f298404_o
Image taken from page 52 of ‘Artful Anticks. [In verse. With illustrations.]’

450bell_and_the_dragon_11130148434_329fb5a492_o
Image taken from page 67 of ‘Belle and the Dragon. An elfin comedy’

450when_life_is_young_11305680695_330d6eea4a_o
Image taken from page 127 of ‘When Life is Young: a collection of verse for boys and girls’

450songs_for_little_people_11142453965_8c8648babf_o
Image taken from page 124 of ‘Songs for Little People. [With illustrations by H. Stratton.]’

450songs_for_little_people_11143494785_d24564016f_o
Image taken from page 19 of ‘Songs for Little People. [With illustrations by H. Stratton.]’

450a_childs_garden_of_verses_11137824285_8c30c8c6e4_o
Image taken from page 152 of ‘[A Child’s Garden of Verses … Second edition.]’

450a_childs_garden_of_verses_11138601805_47cc9a7dea_o
Image taken from page 106 of ‘[A Child’s Garden of Verses … Second edition.]’

page 157 of 'Illustrated Songs and Hymns for the Little Ones. Compiled by Uncle John'450
Image taken from page 157 of ‘Illustrated Songs and Hymns for the Little Ones. Compiled by Uncle John’

Several of these images are taken specifically from children’s books included in the Flickr set. The public is being invited to tag books, and so I’ve started building a set dedicated to children’s book illustration, to which you could also contribute: simply tag any image you believe to come from a children’s book with “children’s book illustration” (using the quotes).

BLkidsbookillustrationset

The direct URL for the ‘Children’s Book Illustration’ set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/sets/72157638906393085/ (Thanks to Nora McGregor @ndalyrose, Curator, Digital Research Team at the British Library for help with this!)

Some of my favourite illustrations from children’s books in the British Library Flickr stream are these:

page 18 of 'Red Apple and Silver Bells. A book of verse for children ... Illustrated by A. B. Woodward'450
Image taken from page 18 of ‘Red Apple and Silver Bells. A book of verse for children … Illustrated by A. B. Woodward’

page 35 of 'The Kitchen Maid; or, Some one we know very well. [A play for children,] ... With illustrations by J. B. Partridge, etc'450
Image taken from page 35 of ‘The Kitchen Maid; or, Some one we know very well. [A play for children,] … With illustrations by J. B. Partridge, etc’

page 145 of 'Pictures and Songs for Little Children' 450
Image taken from page 145 of ‘Pictures and Songs for Little Children’

page 175 of 'Belle and the Dragon. An elfin comedy'450
Image taken from page 175 of ‘Belle and the Dragon. An elfin comedy’

page 52 of 'New Pictures in Old Frames: being a book of verse for girls and boys, written in old French forms, etc'450
Image taken from page 52 of ‘New Pictures in Old Frames: being a book of verse for girls and boys, written in old French forms, etc’

page 260 of 'When Life is Young: a collection of verse for boys and girls'450
Image taken from page 260 of ‘When Life is Young: a collection of verse for boys and girls’

page 37 of 'Artful Anticks. [In verse. With illustrations.]'450
Image taken from page 37 of ‘Artful Anticks. [In verse. With illustrations.]

It’s easy to lose oneself in the repository of images but with that warning, do take a look and let me know of any you find which you particularly like!

The British Library Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/
Images tagged “children’s book illustration”: http://www.flickr.com/photos/britishlibrary/tags/childrensbookillustration/

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Comments

7 Responses to “Vintage children’s book illustrations from the British Library”

  1. Anamaria
    January 3rd, 2014 @ 2:15 am

    Thanks for sharing these, Zoe–I love them! I’ve been playing around with the BL images and will try to remember to tag any relevant ones.
    Anamaria recently posted..Lobel’s Lucia

  2. Rhythm
    January 3rd, 2014 @ 4:08 am

    These are fabulous!! Thanks for sharing!
    Rhythm recently posted..The Reckoning and Movin’ On

  3. Zoe
    January 3rd, 2014 @ 9:11 am

    Glad you enjoyed these, Anamaria and Rhythm! I’ve only viewed about 0.00017 of the images in total so there are lots more discoveries ahead I think!

  4. Helena Daly
    January 3rd, 2014 @ 12:05 pm

    Wonderful pictures. You’re very nice for help ing to identify the pictures We’re so proud of our daughter Nora Rose for being a part of the British Library team! (Are we allowed to say that…)

    Mom

  5. Julia Lee
    January 3rd, 2014 @ 5:02 pm

    So beautiful and inventive. Thanks for signposting this resource.

  6. Catally
    January 3rd, 2014 @ 10:31 pm

    Thank you so much for this post Zoe – what a beautiful collection.

  7. Links from around the web: 1-15-14 | By Singing Light
    January 15th, 2014 @ 7:56 pm

    […] – The British Library released a huge number of images from 17th-19th century books. Zoe Toft has a nice post about children’s book illustrations. […]

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