Monday, December 6, 2010

Antique Children's Christmas Book

Christmas books for children comprised a very popular publishing niche in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. One of the loveliest I've ever found is this, Christmas Joys for Girls and Boys, printed in Bavaria by Ernest Nister Condon, and released in America by E.P. Dutton and Company, New York, around 1908.

(click on the images to see them in greater detail)

The large format picture book, 12 by 10 inches, was printed on an "Untearable" material which was unfortunately not "Unchewable", as little mousies have nibbled away at its edges (see upper right corner...)

Thankfully the illustrations remain undamaged. The gorgeous, richly colored full page spreads depict classic scenes of Christmas, with a profusion of toys.

A beautiful dapple grey rocking horse and his teddy bear rider can be seen on the left side of this image:

In the next illustration, children conduct their Christmas shopping by sled. Check out their haul of wonderful toys!

On page three, happy children have just unloaded their stockings. The blond girl on the left has received a beautiful doll:

The center of the book features a two page spread of a children's holiday "Fancy Dress Party." I think they're playing the old game of "Blind Man's Bluff". My favorite costumer is the boy in the middle, dressed as a teddy bear:

"Presents for the Poor" highlights a little rich girl's Christmas charity efforts. Note the vintage limousine and chauffeur visible through the open doorway:

Page seven features "The Christmas Basket," a cornucopia of antique toy treasures to make the collector's heart flutter. I spy several dollies, a tin litho automobile and steamship, a train, and a platform horse!

"The Christmas Tree" is loaded with toy presents, and on the floor sits a beautiful bear-on-wheels:

The book ends with an image of Christmas crackers being pulled at a sumptuous holiday dinner:


  1. All of these illustrations are so vivid and beautifully detailed.

  2. What a fantastic book! The colours are beautiful. I'll try to make a miniaturebook with te pictures for my dollhouse.
    Gr. Nancy

  3. Wow that's a nice book! I'd snatch that up in a hurry. Thanks for showing so many pics to enjoy!

  4. Wow, that's beautiful, I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for one of these! :)

  5. Oh wow! These illustrations are just amazing, so vibrant.

  6. Aren't they, though? I've never seen an antique children's book with such rich color before.

  7. Tracy, many thanks for these wonderful pictures! I have a 20 year old Christmas cracker business and I have searching for historical records - stories, ads and photographs - especially late 1800's and early 1900's so I was just thrilled to see the closing image in the "Christmas Joys for Girls and Boys". Thank YOU so much!

    Gillian McCrostie

    1. Hi Gillian,

      I'm glad you enjoyed the Christmas book, and I hope the cracker illustration can be of help to you. I've been to look at your shop, and your crackers are wonderful!


  8. This IS the MOST BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN'S CHRISTMAS BOOK I'VE EVER SEEN.THANK YOU for sharing,I also going to keep my eyes open for a copy:-)