WHITTINGTON AND HIS CAT[and 6 other chapbooks]: 12.5 cm x 8; vi; 1-31; 1-31; i +1-32+i; 1-31; 1-31; i+ 1-31+i; iii (pp. 198); modern sympathetic binding (2021) in half calf with tooling and red marbled paper, gold lettering along spine and decoration, original binding instructions, flypapers, and marbled paper bound in.
• Whittington and his Cat [ca. 1840], James Watt: Montrose: pp. 1-31; 13 engravings; historic pencil marking on front cover, both buff front and back covers soiled, interior pages near fine condition. (11cm x 7.5)
• The Little Deserters [ca. 1840], James Watt: Montrose: pp. 1-31; 10 engravings; both buff colored front and back covers soiled, interior pages near fine condition, with p. 27/28-29/30 uncut. (11cm x 7.5)
• The Pocket Reciter [ca. 1840], J.M. Miller: 3 Bristo Port, Edinburgh: pp. 1-32, A-B2 , engraving on front cover; both rose colored front and back covers slightly soiled, interior pages in very good condition. (12x 7.5)
• The Celebrated History of the Renowned Robin Hood...[ca. 1840], James Watt: Montrose: pp. 1-31, 14 engravings; both rose colored front and back covers slightly soiled, interior pages in near fine condition. (11cm x 7.5)
• The Seven Champions of Christendom... [ca. 1840], James Watt: Montrose: pp. 1-24 +1-7; 3/4- 5/6 uncut; 19 engravings; both yellow colored front and back covers slightly soiled, interior pages near fine condition. (11.5cm x 7.5)
• The History of the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood [ca. 1840]: James Watt: Montrose: pp. 1-31, 12 engravings; both rose colored front and back covers slightly soiled, interior pages, near fine condition. (11cm x 7.5)
• Guide to the Game of Whist by "Trumps," : Halifax: Milner and Sowerby, Pasternoster Row: pp. 1-31; vibrant blue front and back covers; booklet in very good condition except for a uniform slight tear through the margin which has been professionally repaired. (12x 7.5)
The literary & social function(s) of Chapbooks in the 19th c.
Chapbooks— cheap, entertaining publications often illustrated with woodcuts— circulated widely between the 17th and 19th centuries. The 1860s saw their decline in popularity, due to the abundance and pushback from religious societies such as the Sterling Tract Enterprise.
Chapbooks were published for the entertainment and education of both children and adults. This collection seems more oriented towards a mature mind, with subjects ranging from history, poetry, Christian romance and hagiography, folklore, and game-playing strategy. Costing a penny each, these serialized books were not meant to last, similar to our modern relationship with weekly magazines. Though they were mass-produced, these ephemeral objects are now sought after collectors' items.
This collection of Chapbooks...
This collection represents a selection of seven treasured chapbooks, in good condition, curated from a past owner, most likely someone named "McGregor," a resident of Glasgow, who had them bound together by J. Ferguson of 145 Argyle Street, Glasgow, sometime in the 20th century. The original binding instructions were found during the rebinding process reading "McGregor/ 13 fols/ ½ calf yellow top/ trim other edges/ Rox." Downie Allison Downie has done a wonderful job sympathetically rebinding the set to restore the object to its original splendor. The original instructions, pastedowns, and marble paper, which had suffered some damage from age, are preserved among the flyleaves, in order to showcase the historical journey of these ephemeral objects.
Many of the chapbooks in this collection were published not in the literary seats of Edinburgh or Glasgow, but rather in Montrose, by James Watt the Younger (active 1820-1852), indicating the popularity of, and demand for, the genre across Scotland. Watt, whose father, James Watt the Elder, opened a Public Reading Room in Montrose in 1811. Watt the Elder tragically drowned in 1825, when he fell overboard from a passage to London. Watt the Younger took over the publication of the Montrose Standard in 1840, where he printed the newspaper in his office, variously noted as Jolly Close, 32 High Street, 19 High Street (in 1846) and 34 High Street (in 1852).
• "In the reign of King Edward the third, there was a kittle boy called Dick Whittington, whose father and mother died when he was very young, so that he remembered nothing at all about them, and was left a dirty fellow running about a country village."
The story the Lord Mayor of London rise from poverty to plenty by selling his prized mousing cat, which then rid the Barbary monarchs of their rodents, this version of The History of Whittington and his Cat [c. 1840] was published in Montrose, Scotland, by James Watt, #10 of Penny Books, New and Improved Series. Whittington and his Cat hosts 13 wood engravings (cover, frontispiece, title page, pp. 7, 10, 12, 14, 16, 20, 22, 24, 26,29, 31), with the eponymous cat appearing in some of the engravings.
• "Gay hope is theirs by fancy fed, Less pleasing when possessed; The tear forgot as soon as shed, The sunshine of the breast"
Beginning with an epigraph from the works of famed 18th century Pembroke College, Cambridge poet, Thomas Gray, The Little Deserter, or, Holiday Sports, a Tale Dedicated to All Good Boys [ca. 1845], tells the tale of lads playing soldiers. The chapbook concludes with two poems: "The Mariner of Life," by an unknown author and Thomas Moore's "Hymn to the Deity." Pages 27/28 and 29/30 of "The Mariner of Life" are uncut. Like Whittington and his Cat, this chapbook, published by James Watt in Montrose, Scotland, hails from the Penny Books, New and Improved as #11 in the series. Ten engravings illustrate the boys' games (frontispiece, pp. 9, 11, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26).
• "Again, ye Scots, renew your deeds, See how the vaunting Saxon bleeds; On, Scotland, on, 'tis Wallace leads, On to death or victory!"
The Pocket Reciter stands as the only publication in this bound collection from Edinburgh. The sole illustration appears on the title page, featuring the handsome, well-spoken orator that this chapbook intends its reader to become through careful study and memorization of these 28 pieces of poetry, soliloquy, and dialog. Intended for a Scottish audience, the selection includes the pairing of the English language poem, "Lord Ullin's Daughter" (Thomas Campbell) with the Scots language "Parody on Lord Ullin's Daughter" (author unknown). The editor sampled from well-known Scottish literature and theatre, such as Walter Scott's poems, "Lochnivar" and "Love of Country," in addition to "Tell's Speech", the "Downfall of Poland," "The Death of John Moore," and "Wallace's Lament," which directly reference the Scottish landscape or heroes. Campbell's "Downfall of Poland," tapped into the Romantic poet's romanticization of Tadeusz Kościuszko, a Polish freedom fighter against Russia and Prussia and an aid to the U.S. during the Revolutionary War.
• "In the time of Richard I. king of England, the famous Robin Hood was born in Nottinghamshire, near which were many large forests filled with deer."
The next chapbook in this bound set, The Celebrated History of the Renowned Robin Hood Captain of the Merry Outlaws of Sherwood Forest, is from James Watt's Montrose series. This version of the Robin Hood tale describes the young man's upbringing in his Uncle Gamewell's estate, to his loss of the estate due to the perfidy of monks, and his adventures until he is made Earl of Huntingdon by Richard I. Robin's adventures are illustrated through fourteen woodcuts (cover, frontispiece, title page, 7, 9, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 22, 29, 30) and this chapbook appears as #12 in the series of Penny Books, New and Improved.
• "There were, we are told, in the remote and chivalrous ages of the world, giants, enchanters, and magicians, who committed wicked actions, and exercised all kinds of cruelty and oppression."
Woven into a frame narrative of the attempts of Calyba, Sorceress of the Woods, to prevent the downfall of her power through the rise of the Seven Champions of Christendom, this eponymously titled chapbook, The Seven Champions of Christendom to which is added the story of Little King Pippin, is a set of reductive and abbreviated hagiographies presenting the lives of: St George; St Denis of France; St James of Spain; St Anthony of Italy; St Andrew of Scotland; St Patrick of Ireland; and, St. David of Wales. Added to the end, and resetting the pagination from 24 to 1, the (very apocryphal) tale of King Pippin follows the lad's love of learning and his interactions with Mr. Teachum and some other heavy-handed allegorical figures, such as George Graceless, Neddy Neverpay, William Worthy, and Harry Harmless. The heroics of these two tales are embellished with 19 "neat woodcuts" (cover, frontispiece, title page, pp. 6, 7, 10, 11, 14, 16; 17; 20; 24 (Prince of Wales' Feathers); 1, 2, 3, [4, 5], 6, 7). This chapbook and its amendment appear as #23 in James Watt's series of Penny Books, New and Improved. The pages 3/4 and 5/6 have not been cut.
• "Once upon a time there lived a king and a queen who had no children, which made them very unhappy indeed."
With the concluding moral of not marrying without parental consent, this classic fairy tale of The History of the Sleeping Beauty in the Wood spins the tale of the princess, who was blessed and cursed by fairies; her revival within a hundred years; her marriage to the prince without notifying the king and queen; their two children, Morning and Day, and then the cannibalistic wrath of the queen (an ogress), ultimately overcome by the succor of God, and the reunion of the family with the king. The last of the James Watt chapbooks in this bound set features 12 woodcut illustrations (cover, frontispiece, title page, pp. 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 18, 22). It is listed as #4 in the Penny Books, New and Improved.
• "Whist is the very ancient Game of Cards, the rules of which have been but very little modified 'with in the memory of the oldest player'."
Card games offered a chief source of social entertainment in the pre-televised era. This immanently portable reference to the "laws" of the game of whist, by the near anonymous "Trumps," provides instructions such as "leading trumps," "following a lead," as well as "explanation of terms," "notes for beginners," and more technical rules such as "when you turn up an honour" or "playing for the odd trick." There is a list of other game guides on the back cover.
Cited as #1612 (p. 284) in Jessel, Frederic, and Norton T. Horr. 1972. Bibliographies of works on playing cards and gaming; a reprint of A bibliography of works in English on playing cards and gaming. Montclair, N.J.: Patterson Smith.