Saturday, 1 September 2018

The Evolution of Quiet Books

While it may at first appear that there is not a lot of readily available information about the history and development of quiet books, I have been able to find some quite interesting details regarding their evolution.

Firstly I would like to draw your attention to a very informative article The History of the Bendable, Durable, Chewable Board Book by Olivia Campbell on the LIT HUB website. She talks about the results of technology development and the financial access it brought to books and toys as well as a dramatic paradigm shift that occurred in relation to children and books in general. It is an interesting read.


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In 1902, Dean's Rag Books Company was formed, publishing the first printed cloth books. They had pinking sheared edges and were advertised as being indestructible. Unlike paper books, the pages could not be torn and/or eaten by children and they could be washed, sterilized, and slept with comfortably. The company went on to produce printed panels which could be sewn into a book by the purchaser. They extended this idea to their traditional book range and made cut out model books out of card which buyers could put together themselves. See The Brighton Toy and Model Index for more details on Dean's Rag Books Company or the book on it's history pictured above.

Dean's Rag Book Company was an offshoot of the Dean & Son book publishing company founded not long before 1800. The University Libraries website credits them with publishing the first movable books, including pop-up books, pull-tab books, and pantomime toy books. Dean's Rag Books Company does not seem to have incorporated these ideas into their cloth books.


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One of the earliest tactile books published may have been "Cottontails - A Tactile Book" dated to 1938, a copy of which is preserved in the Bennington Museum. As you can see, it features tied binding, beads, pom-poms, buttons, fabric, ribbon, a bell, and what appears to be felt.


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The earliest dated quiet book pattern I am aware of is by Ann F Pritt, copyrighted in 1967 to Deseret Book Company. She made a Mormon version because she noticed a lot of mothers bringing quiet books to church and wanted to promote a focus on scripture. You can download her pattern for free from The Idea Door website: How to Make an LDS Quiet Book by Ann F. Pritt


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Thanks to a lovely friend, I own a copy of  How to Sew A Quiet Book from Craft Course Publishers, copyright 1977. It is Craft Course SP-11 and says it was adapted from a book submission by Annelle Simmons. Many of the classic quiet book pages are included in her patterns and it is my guess that they were already established as classics before this publishing.


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In addition to the try my mitten and football lacing pages featured on the front cover, pages include pockets for a pad and pencil/crayons, flower buttoning, hair braiding, clothes on a washing line, a clock, a train, balloon colour matching, shape matching, 1-10 bead counting, bow tying on a kitten, a clown face to rearrange, and a zippered ladybug with babies.


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If you know of any earlier patterns or other information, I'd love to hear from you!

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