Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Vintage Childcraft Books - Then and ... Then

 Childcraft, 1949 edition

When I was a child, we had a set of Childcraft books which were published in 1949, like the ones above. I don't know what happened to them, but I do know that by the time we kids had passed from childhood, they were well worn and most likely falling apart, especially Volumes One and Two.

Years passed. I grew up. I got married and had children.

When our last daughter was born, the ladies of the church held a baby shower for me. It was wonderful. We received many beautiful outfits for our new little girl. Some were for the newborn, some to be worn later when she was a size 24 mo. or so. They were all lovely, lovely gifts.

What I didn't know is that two of the women had conspired to find me a set of the 1949 Childcraft, like I had had when I was a little girl. It was the last gift to be given. After all the other gifts had been opened, a large box was dragged out of the bedroom and into the living room. I had no idea what it contained. This is starting to sound like a fairy tale, isn't it. Enter the jealous fairy who foretells of horrid things to take place in my future...

UNfortunately, when I opened the box, I couldn't suppress my surprise and delight at seeing those Childcraft books. They were beautiful, and in great condition. Technically, I suppose the first few volumes were in 'good' condition. I opened them to look through to all the favorite stories I'd known as a kid.  All the beautiful baby clothes lying about were nearly forgotten in this moment of excitement. (Actually, not much has changed in that department. Books always seem way more exciting than clothes.)

Looking back on it, I wish I hadn't made quite the fuss I did over the Childcraft set, but really...it was an extraordinary gift and obviously, someone knew that I'd been trying to track down that 1949 set.

  I could recite so many of the poems from those books, including 'Eletelephony.' (Still can, by the way.)

And then there was 'The Highwayman.' LOVED IT.

Just look at the beautiful artwork in that 1949 edition of Childcraft. It was enchanting!

Here's what Childcraft had looked like in the 1970s (above)


 Yes, this was the same era as flocked wallpaper, plaid pants, and lots of orange and brown. Maybe that explains the mindset that compiled the artwork for these books. It was sterile and ugly. It had no soul.

Just take a look at the difference between the artwork of the late '40s and the '70s. It's really sad, isn't it!

And here's a little grandson, another generation enjoying 'The Sugar Plum Tree' from the old set of Childcraft, the 1949 edition. They're still residing on the bookshelves in the living room.

Do you have any books you loved as a child? Do you still have them? Have you been on a search for them and still not found them?  My best source for used books has been Abebooks.com. (or you might try the ladies in the church.) :-)

Do you love to browse used bookstores? When we visited our daughter and son-in-law in Texas, they took us to HalfPrice Books in Dallas. What a treat!!!

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Sandra said...

the 40's set is amazing, wish I had them when i was a child, we only had a few books, but always had books from the library. the few books i did get i treasured, i had Grims Fairy tales and and wonderful Bible story book. i would enjoy reading those old books even now. and the art work is amazing.

Unknown said...

I love finding or receiving things like these for our past. Especially when it brings back such lovely memories. Love that you get to share them with your grandchildren!

Lois Christensen said...

That's an amazing set of books! And yes, we love to visit book stores! Enjoy your day.

Amy, a redeemed sheep said...

Guess who had the 70's set? And you are so right, the 49 set is MUCH nicer.

Deanna said...

I have a complete set from 1974 in almost perfect condition but after seeing the illustrations in yours I think I will be haunting the used book stores looking for an older set. Those are amazing! I have a set of 4 Walt Disney books from my childhood that hold the same sort of memories you have for the Childcraft books. I treasure them.

Ruth Kelly said...

I am totally in awe - what a wonderful gift and to be able to share with your grand kiddies.

Carla from The River said...

Hi Judy,
I love books and the boys love books. I have several of my books from a child. Thank goodness, my mom kept them for us. I am thankful.
P.S. The boys love Bobby Jeans house, so many books! Sam called it, "The Store" :)

Heide at ApronHistory said...

Oh my word!! I think we had a few of those when we were small, the 1949 editions. I do remember "Elephony". Our Grandma gave them to us, her favorite gift to all of us was books. Needless to say we all turned into book lovers!
Some of our favorites were a sandwich book(forgot the name) Billly and Betsy books and Golden Books. Also an old copy of the Night Before Christmas that was our Mom's.
And I totaly agree, got to have lots of beautiful pictures! I remember spendign hours just looking at pictures in books.

Yenta Mary said...

I loved used bookstores, garage sales, thrift shops, all of it! I don't possess the knowledge to be a serious collector; but I love to find intriguing items, old, quaint, charming, unique ....

RebeccaT said...

Those are beautiful old books! I have been trying to remember a series we had as kids, they were about the size of golden books but for a little older kids. I thought they were called the Pickle books but can't find them. All the stories were about animals, like tigers and lions, not dog and cat stories. Full of crazy mishaps....

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

That is so interesting! One of the reasons I love old children's books is because of the illustrations but I really hadn't thought about how they have changed over the years. What a shame! The pages you show sure bring back memories!

RebeccaT said...

Oh my word, I just found them!! They were called SweetPickles...and they are being re-released!!!!!!! YAY!
Why are children's books so much fun?

Debra Hawkins said...

What a wonderful and beautiful set! What a perfect and thoughtful gift!

Chatty Crone said...

Judy - I would have never ever have thought of those again - but seeing your photos made me remember them from somewhere in my past - and i am associating them with good memories. Love, sandie

That was very nice of your friends to do that for you.

laurie said...

Those are such awesome books, I love the illustrations! That was so exciting, getting the books at your shower. I love books, too.

Judy S. said...

Loved this post, Judy, as it brought back lots of fun memories. We had a similar "red" version of Childcraft, probably an earlier version; my recollection is that the covers were plain red and bumpy all over. I can clearly remember my mom reading Eletelphony to me again and again~love that poem. Our kids had the same 70s version. Two of my old favorites are Horton Hatches the Egg, my first picture book, and Misty of Chincoteague, my first real book....also have my mom's old copy of Gone with the Wind! Books, I love 'em!

Eileen said...

You have some very special friends to do that for you. How nice that you can now share them with your grandchildren.

Denise said...


Amy Burzese said...

I was born in 1960 so our set would be closer to the 70s version. I do remember black and white sketches and some color. I think I'll drag them out and look.

Unknown said...

I think my Mom loved those books when she was little. My favorite picture is of your grandson reading the book! So cute.

http://thankfullga447 said...

Love the books and you are very fortunate to have them. When I was a child I did not have books that I owned so now I started collecting them. I love the feel and smell of old books.


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