Friday, 31 August 2012

Can you help identify this book?

I receive lots of emails from people searching for books based on fragments of information. Sometimes I recognise the book immediately, but more often than not I don’t have a clue. Searching through reference books and online often turns up the answer but not this time, I’m completely stumped, and I’m hoping you might be able to help.

Does this ring any bells?

Bright red and orange nasturtiums growing over the roof of a cottage are mistaken for a fire. Nearby villagers call the local fire brigade to put out the flames.

This didn’t mean anything to me, so I visited the BookSlueth forum on ABE books, and one of the lovely people there came up with this; 

Patty Wolcott, The Forest Fire, (1974). An Addisonian Press book, published by Addison-Wesley in 1974, this story tells the tale of some forest animals who mistake some bright flowers for a fire.

But that doesn’t sound quite right - so do you have any other ideas? 

I get numerous requests from people looking for titles of long lost books. I’m always happy to help and often recognise the book – but not always. That’s when this website is useful It’s an excellent resource where you post a vague description of the book and get lots of people trying to come up with the title. The people that use the forum have a wealth of knowledge, and usually someone knows something! Loganberry Books have a stump the bookseller section that is always fun to visit. is also worth a try, put a brief description in the keyword search and see what comes up – you might just be lucky.  

Juliet in the field of Nasturtiums; picture from Pinterest

Just as I finished putting this post together I was asked to help find another book. And what do you know – this one has me stumped too!

Does this mean anything to you? Hardback book without dust jacket approximately the same size as a Ladybird book (four-and-a-half by seven inches/11.5cm by 18cm). Published around 1959 -1962. The story is about a Cherry Fairy. At night, the cherries are sour but in the morning, they are sweet and juicy.  I think it's going to be quite difficult to find because all searches with fairies and fruit inevitably point to Cicely Mary Barker or Margret Tarrant, but the person looking for the book is certain it's not by either of them.

Thanks for calling in. Please leave a comment if you have an idea about either of these books, or if you know of other great places to search, or if you just want to get something of your chest! All comments appreciated. Barbara


The wonderful Michelle from Vintage Cobweb recognised the nasturtium story and came up with the title and the series, thank you Michelle you’re good at this! Thanks are also due to Kylie from Lucy Violet Vintage for pointing out that the story was in a school reader probably published in the 70s, and for reminding me that the nasturtiums were growing in a pair of boots. The person looking for the book did tell me that, but I didn't jot it down and had forgotten all about it. Thank you both very much.

In case you’ve not read the comments the nasturtiums story is from the school reader, Dick and Dora, happy venture books. I’ve passed the information on together with a link to ABE books where there are a few copies for sale. So I think we can mark that one as solved!

Update October, 2014 

Michelle from Vintage Cobweb kindly suggested the story was in one of the Dick and Dora Happy Venture Playbooks.  These were a series of primary school reading books, very much like the Janet and John, Peter and Jane, or Topsy and Tim series. The problem is I still don’t know which of the Dick and Dora books the story is in.  I’ve contacted several booksellers who have them for sale but so far none have had the time to look to see if the story is in the books they have.

Since this post was published it’s also been suggested the story could be in one of a series of books by Fred J. Schonell co-written with Phyllis Flowerdew, which might have been for the American market. They were called Wide Range Readers as opposed to the Happy Venture Readers. One of the stories is about the man who grew nasturtiums in his boots that subsequently covered his entire house. 

Another lady emailed to say she thinks the story is called The Nasturtiums which grew too big for their boots.

I also received a very nice email from Eleanor, who would like to add that despite not knowing the title or author, she remembers reading the book in primary school, and as she is in her sixties, it must have been published before the 1970s. 


Susan, the lady looking for the Cherry Fairy has provided some more information and is happy for me to share it here;

The Cherry Fairy paints the cherries overnight, so that is how they ripen... It was a real page-turner!!  As I turned the page, there they were all rich dark cherry colour!   I remember noticing the reflections in the images (seeming white marks on the dark cherry). Example image attached.  As I draw and paint, I realise that I was able to see in an artists way at that time, just naturally.

Style-wise it was very 1950s; rather like the book you reviewed recently “The Impatient Horse” – that had the feel of The Cherry Fairy book.That is why I probably thought it wasn’t a Ladybird book, yet as we had those, it may well have been, before they became so branded. It will probably end up being more like “What fun – an Invitation to a party”!It was most definitely that illustration style/time.

Update October 2015; The Nasturtiums that were too proud for their boots.

I’m very grateful to Frank for sending the following information and scans.

The Nasturtiums that were too proud for their boots comes from The Happy Venture Readers - Book 4 written by Fred Schonell and illustrated by Kiddell-Monroe. First Published in 1959.   Frank still has many of the books he read at school, and remembers reading this one in 1969. He is kindly sharing the images here in the hope they will bring back memories for other people. 

I do love a happy ending, and I am thrilled to be able to share this with readers of my blog. Thanks Frank!

Thanks as always for any help/comments.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Books with beautiful bindings 1883 - 1913

Tim Trumble's Little Mother by Clara L Mateaux with nineteen full-page engravings from illustrations by Giacomelli. Original gilt-blocked and black-stamped pictorial red cloth with gilt lettering and decoration. This beautiful book was presented to Ethel Cook, Class 5 Clewer St. Stephen intermediate school for class marks (1st prize) Christmas 1907.  

When I read an inscription like this, I always want to know more, OK, so I’m nosy! A little time spent on Google rewarded me with the following;

The Parish of Clewer St. Stephen was formed out of the ancient parish of Clewer in 1872. The building of the present church began in November 1870, when the first stone of the Chancel was laid.  St. Stephen’s school was situated at the north of the Church. The infant school was opened in 1872, a boy’s school in 1873 a girl's school in 1877. In 1899, an intermediate school was started for the daughters of the smaller trade's people who could pay more than two pence per week.

I hoped to be able to dig a little deeper, but a search of both the 1901 and 1911 census proved fruitless. I'm not even sure if St. Stephen’s school still exists and without knowing the name of  Ethel’s father I don’t have much to go on. But I would love to know what became of Ethel. Did she get married? Have children? If any of Ethel’s descendants read this do please get in touch.

Seven Maids by L. T. Meade with ten full page black and white plates by Percy Tarrant. Decorative green cloth/gilt. All edges gilt. Undated but prize plate July 1907. Given for regularity, progress and good conduct the recipient's name (sadly) unreadable.

Our own magazine 1897 a monthly paper for young people and children. Inspirational and sentimental stories with black and white illustrations. Bound volume of 12 monthly issues - January - December 1897.

Called of her country the story of Joan of Arc nicknamed by Evelyn Everett Green with illustrations by E F Sherie. Published in 1900 by S. H. Bousfield & Co.  Joan of Arc nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" a folk heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in what is now eastern France, who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years’ War, which paved the way for the coronation of Charles VII of France.

Our Anniversaries by Alice Lane. Published by the Religious tract society in 1887. Gift inscription to Theresa Robins with Mrs Savills kind love and best wishes June 20th, 1887. A selection of texts and verses for every day of the year, illustrations throughout with ruled areas for notes opposite each illustration. Several pencil/pen notations including – Bessie passed on January 13th, mother's birthday January 24th, dear Aggie passed October 28th, King Edward VII died 1910 and so on.

Travels in Hot and Cold Lands - Published in 1877.  Grace Ashleigh by Mary Boyd with engravings by Robert Barnes. Published by S. W. Partridge in 1897. Pretty decorative cloth, 8 engravings. The ballad of Beau Brocade and other poems of the XVIII century by Austin Dobson with fifty illustrations by Hugh Thomson. Published by Kegan Paul and printed at the Chiswick Press, Chancery Lane, London.   Undated c1892. Green cloth elaborately decorated and lettered in gilt on the spine and upper cover. Includes: The Ballad of Beau Brocade; A Gentleman of the Old School; A Dead Letter; A Gentlewoman of the Old School; The Old Sedan Chair; The Ladies of St. James's; Molly Trefusus; A Chapter of Froissart.

The seven champions of Christendom edited by F. J. Harvey Darton and published by Wells Gardner Darton undated assumed 1st edition 1913. Tissue guarded frontis and twenty black and white plates. Attractive blue cloth with gilt lettering, front cover design in red, blue, gilt and green showing St. George and the dragon, decorative spine. Chapters about St. George of England, St. James of Spain, St. Andrew of Scotland, St. David of Wales, St. Dennis of France, St. Anthony of Italy, and St. Patrick of Ireland. 

The gateway to Tennyson undated but gift inscription to dearest Christopher from his affectionate grandfather & grandmother George & Frances Anne Bridgwood Christmas, 1910. Original gold blocked red cloth, top edge gilt. Illustrated endpapers, 16 colour plates by Norman Little plus black-and-white  line drawings. Tales and extracts from the poets work with an introduction by Mrs. Andrew Lang. 

Little wide awake published by George Routledge and sons, 1893. Edited by Mrs. and Miss Sale Barker. A Collection of children's stories, poems and puzzles. Black and white engravings and chromolithograph frontis.
Peter Parley's Annual for 1883 published by Cassell Petter & Galpin in 1883. Frontispiece and eight other colour plates. A collection of stories about dogs including His Majesty’s dog, the dog of the regiment and the engine-driver’s dog.

Last but certainly not least Tales from Shakespeare (next to Little wide awake above). Published by George Routledge and Sons in 1891. Brown cloth with embossed lettering and decoration in green and gilt. A collection of  Shakespeare's works including Romeo and Juliet and King Lear ‘designed for the use of the young reader’

I hope you've enjoyed a quick look at these beautifully bound books.  The gloves and hankie in the pictures belonged to my mum. I think she wore the gloves to my sister's wedding along with a pillbox hat, court shoes and a very pretty silk pleated dress. I'm not sure of the date (Sister Sue if you read this, please leave a comment), but I would guess about 1958?  The black-and-white illustration is by S. B. Pearse. A friend gave it to me after finding a collection in an antique shop.

These are some of my ‘favourite things’ – do you have favourite things? If so what are they?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Guest Post; Future Illustrations from Classic Science Fiction Books

Guest post by Heather Smith.

I have always had a love for reading and a love for old things. It was inevitable that those two loves would come together then to form an appreciation for classic books. Unfortunately, my reading tastes ran towards the rather fanciful science fiction department. I thought that, surely, science fiction was a new phenomenon. I mean, I know about the classics like Jules Verne, but to really read science fiction you had to go modern, right? Well, I was wrong as I soon discovered a dust-covered treasure that was falling apart on the back shelf of an antique store.

My first foray into pre-moon landing science fiction was Tom Corbett: Space Cadet! I loved the strange story line set quiet close to my current time, and best of all there were pictures! The cover alone took my imagination for a ride to worlds I knew and yet had never seen in the light of a pre-NASA world.

From Tom Corbett I also discovered Tom Swift, and though I was never as fond of that Tom, he was a lot more prolific. The thing I loved best, however, was the illustrations and the full-color covers that came with the books. They were so fanciful and different from modern thoughts on space flight and science fiction. Here are a few examples of my favorite book covers from those Toms. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. If you get the chance, I recommend reading Tom Corbett "On the Trail of the Space Pirates". It was my first book find, and one I still love to this day.

Author Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites.  She can be contacted at H.smith7295 [at]

Thanks Heather. I missed out on these exciting looking books - has anyone else read them? 

Monday, 20 August 2012

Happy Ever After

If you’ve been reading my Happy Ever After posts, you will know the happy ending I was hoping for hasn't quite worked out;

This is what it's all about;

and this is what happened to it;

After a seven-month trip around the world, it arrived back in Somerset and worse still, after numerous attempts, I've been unable to contact the winner. So the names of the lovely folk who commented on the original post...Vanessa, Donna, Eve, Claudine, Sharon, Peggy, Jess, Alex, Yvonne, Darlene and Amy were put into a hat. Terry drew out a name, and the winner is……

Congratulations Sharon!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The impatient horse one of the rarest Ladybird books?

The Impatient horse story by George Murray and illustrations by Xenia Berkeley. Ladybird Series 538.
Can you imagine my delight when I spotted this at a recent antique’s fair? Previously, I’d only seen pictures in the Bookfinder magazine and on the internet.

The Weeweb Ladybird site goes so far as to count it among the 'rarest of the rare' and states “This is a true collector's item to any Ladybird enthusiast with first editions swapping hands for "£100+."

This copy is a third edition published in 1955 complete with dust jacket. I like Ladybird books and have a few in my collection, but I’ve decided to sell this one. It’s not one I had as a child so it’s not really one I want to keep, although it’s very pretty, and I’m tempted! 

The cover is quite muted and very different from most Ladybird books, but as soon as you turn to the first page, you find the familiar bright and beautiful colour illustrations. 

It’s a super story; 
getting bored waiting for the milkman to drink his tea Mary and John end up riding off with Horace the impatient horse and the milkman’s milk float! Together they succeed in winning a race, help to put out a fire and win ‘best horse’ in an army parade. They eventually find their way back home just as the milkman is finishing his tea. All the milk is lost but the prizes and accolades make up for it, and Horace’s reward is an early retirement.  

The Impatient horse; story by George Murray and illustrations by Xenia Berkeley. Ladybird Series 538.

Have you got a favourite Ladybird book? Do you collect Ladybird books? 

Monday, 13 August 2012

What fun - an invitation to a party!

Found in Books;

Really pretty vintage invitation card

Four pages of knitting patterns from an issue of Woman's weekly June 9, 1956.

Handwritten note; 4th moth - Oh he would love that. He always wanted to be a moth or a butterfly or a fairy.

I can only imagine ‘he’ was given the part of the 4th moth in the school play - but what do you think?

I played the part of a daffodil once! My mum made me a glorious costume out of yellow and green crepe paper. I didn't have any lines. I just had to sway gently!  I think the narrator was quoting William Wordsworth’s daffodils, but my memory is very hazy as it was a long time ago.

I seem to remember we used to push a pencil through these and spin them - but I don't remember why; it must have been part of a game. Can anyone remember?

All found inside this copy of Black Beauty; 

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell with illustrations by G. P. Micklewright; published in 1933

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Things found in books - Happy Ever After - Update

Do you remember the post I did in February about finding this pretty embroidery transfer and skein of thread wrapped in tissue paper at the bottom of a box of books? I offered to send it to the first person who contacted me. That person was Ao Bibliophile.

I shipped the parcel on the 24th February and thought that was the end of the story but two weeks ago it was returned as undeliverable. It’s impossible to read the name and address on the parcel as someone at the Post Office has scrawled all over it with black marker pen. I’ve tried contacting Ao Bibliophile via her blog, by and by email but all to no avail. I’ve just sent another email and will wait for 24 hours before doing anything further. If you know Ao Bibliophile please get her to contact me!

Several of you expressed an interest in owning these so after waiting 24 hours I will put your names in a hat and draw out a winner. 

You can read the original post here

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Nunney Street Market and Fayre

We've just enjoyed another visit to the fabulous Nunney street market and fair. The theme this year was Keep Calm and Nunney On – life in Nunney during World War II.

It was wonderful to see visitors and stall holders dressed for the occasion

A group of traditional Morris dancers entertain the crowds

Could there be a better back drop than Nunney Castle?

One of the many bric-a-brac stalls

Possibly the worlds largest teddy bear

Music, a moat and a castle...

A snapshot of wartime Britain...

ending with an air raid siren and billowing smoke

Music on every corner

and an appreciative audience

Me, plus camera and flag! 

Thank's for a wonderful day

Pictures from last year's event and more information about Nunney village in this previous post

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...