Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Downton but not as we know it!

A while ago, Sharon over at Sharon’sunlit memories mentioned she was enjoying Downton Abbey.


For those of you who don’t know, Downton Abbey is a costume drama starring Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville. It first aired in the UK in September 2010 and in the United States in January 2011 and has gone on to be a huge success loved by millions, including Sharon and me! The series is set on the fictional estate of Downton Abbey and depicts the lives of the Crawley family and their servants.


Sharon’s comment reminded me of a visit to Downton Abbey aka Highclere Castle in 1999. It also prompted me to look out some of the photographs. We were there for the wedding of Nicola and Jay. Nicola is the daughter of two of our oldest and dearest friends. 

I'm sorry about the quality of some of the pictures my camera was struggling with the lack of light.

Nicola was the perfect fairy tale princess, and the castle was beautifully bedecked for Christmas. 

The wedding took place in the Saloon, seen here from the staircase.



I thought my outfit was perfect but looking at it now I'm not so sure! I wish I could go back and chose something more suitable for the occasion and surroundings. I don’t have the suit any more, but the 'fascinator' is carefully preserved in tissue paper. You never know it might turn out to be a collector’s item one day!


It was nice to be part of the upstairs family for a day, but if we were to travel back in time I'm sure our place would be firmly downstairs!


My mum often talked about her days as a scullery maid (the lowest grade of ‘below stairs’ maid). Her duties included many of the most menial tasks, cleaning and scouring the scullery floor, washing all the pots and pans and lighting the fires on the kitchen stove. One of her most vivid memories was of making beeswax polish. This involved melting beeswax in a pan of turpentine; all was going well until she decided to leave it ‘simmering’ and get on with some of her other tasks. The result was a fire, followed by a very serious telling off and a docking of two week's wages.  Mum was born in 1917, so I would guess this must have been around 1931. I can’t watch Downton without thinking about her and wishing I could ask her more about her time below stairs.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Things that go bump in the night!

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Dracula's Bedtime Story Book - tales to keep you awake at night
Count Dracula introduces chilling and hilarious tales about Jekyll and Hyde, the secret of Treasure Island, the truth concerning Noah's Ark, the mystery of Humpty Dumpty, British Scareways, Xmas at castle Drac and other scary but delightful tales. 


Jan Pienkowski's Haunted House
This wonderful pop-up book dares you to journey through a haunted mansion. Jan Pienkowski has created a scary world in which the eyes in the portraits follow you through the rooms. A spaghetti monster leaps from the refrigerator, and you come face to face with a hilarious blue alien. There are more than skeletons in this closet!

Nesta the little witch
Garbled spells yield ridiculous results at the School for Spells.The only student with any promise is little Nesta. Her cleverness earns the jealousy of her teachers, Windbag Wartnose and Morag the Hag, and they sabotage her. As the two cackle in the shadows of the witch lab, both are gobbled up by a monster (another student's project gone awry). Nesta releases the teachers to help clean up, but not without a warning--next time she might make a mistake "too big for a little witch to fix."

Now for a very different kind of ghost story!
The Lone Ranger and the Ghost Horse
Lots of wonderful memories here! A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Hi Ho Silver!"  With his faithful Indian companion Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains, goes in search of a ghost horse!



 Vintage Christmas card - with added pumpkin! The witch is actually carrying a Christmas pudding - you can still see the steam if you look closely! But why would you want a witch at Christmas? Hey presto, with a little computer wizardry we have the perfect Halloween card! 

Happy Halloween - thanks for calling in.

Update July 2016: All the books featured are now sold. March House books closed on my retirement in 2015, but I am still happily blogging here at March of Time Books. Your visits are always appreciated.

Monday, 22 October 2012

A dream of Sadler's Wells; Lorna Hill

I recently bought a lovely collection of books by Lorna Hill (thank you Ruth) and thought it would be nice to share some of the cover art with you.

Lorna Hill was born in Durham, England in 1902. A dream of Sadler's Wells (1950) was the first of a long series of novels based on her daughter's training at the Sadler's Wells Ballet School (now The Royal Ballet School).  Lorna Hill wrote numerous books during her lifetime, including the Dancing Peel series (ballet), the Marjorie series and the Patience series (pony books) and a series about Vicarage children. If you are interested in finding out more about Lorna Hill and her books, Collecting Books and Magazines is a good place to start.














































All the above books are now sold, thank you for your interest.

Have you read anything by Lorna Hill or any other books about the ballet?


Update July 2016: March House books closed on my retirement in 2015, but I do still blog here at March of Time Books and always appreciate your visit. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Rene Cloke postcards

from my collection;

A bedtime story from the "Rene Cloke" fairy series published by Valentine's

One night I peeped through the window just after I went to bed, I ought to have been in my cot, I know, my pillow beneath my head; But somebody seemed to whisper "Come!" and so I made up my mind, climbed out and tiptoed across the floor, and lifted the old red blind. It wasn't dark as some nights are, for up in the purple sky the round moon showed me her battered face: it didn't seem very high. And all the trees that I know so well looked funny, and far, and white; and all of them murmured, "Hush! hush! hush! We can't make a noise to-night."  
The Star Lighters "Rene Cloke" fairy series published by Valentine's 

I wasn't afraid, not quite afraid, but I wasn't as bold as brass, when I looked, and I saw a shining sight out there on the silver grass. And, oh! I think I shall never see such a beautiful sight again, as the wonderful shining sight I saw when I looked through the window pane. In the place of the garden arbour, with its walls, and its seats of wood, and its thatched roof covered with creepers, a marvellous palace stood: I seemed to have known it always (though it couldn't be ages old), with its pillars of rainbow crystal, and its towers of polished gold.

Sunrise another from the Valentine's "Rene Cloke" fairy series

Then a voice said, "Look at the fairies!" and out in a troop they came; I had seen them by dozens in picture-books, and these were the very same. The same, only much, much better, for these were alive, alive; and the sound of their little voices was the buzz of a big bee-hive. For oh! They shouted and tumbled, and frisked, and fluttered, and played: A jolly, delightful romp, they had, and nobody seemed afraid; And I, who had held my breath so, just didn't I want to go and join in the games they played at out there on the lawn below!

An elfin serenade Valentine’s Rene Cloke 


I have seen my mamma wear jewels, and these were like jewels bright, like opals alive and leaping all over the grass at night - when clear from the golden palace came sounding a trumpet's call, and they fell into lines like a regiment, and stood at attention all. And wasn't there lovely music, the music that makes you cry. The music mamma sings softly - she calls it a lullaby. And riding a mouse-sized charger, the tiniest ever seen, out pranced to her faithful fairies the beautiful Fairy Queen.

Snowflake fairies Valentine's Rene Cloke postcard

To think I should see her really - to think I should see her there as I peeped through the bedroom window, perched up on a bedroom chair! I was only a little girl, you know, and I think it was very kind to let me look at the Fairy Queen when I lifted the old red blind. But just as I said, "I'll ask her up to come to my room and play; and won't we have romps at night-time, and won't we have fun by day!" A black cloud covered the moon's face, and I - I was back in bed (but I never knew how I got there) with my pillow beneath my head.
Fairies on the lawn (a child's recollection) by R. C. Lehmann

The featured postcards are from my collection and not for sale.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Novelty books; Part two

Last week; bird showcases, Jimmy Jumbo, Dinah, Jum and Mac, Willie Wombat, Before 1066 and all that, living picture book with magic glasses and a treasure hunt. View here

This week painting and drawing and things to make.


The Scissorbill Bird by Louise Selworthy. The title of this made no sense until I realised the bird’s eye, and beak is fashioned from a pair of scissors. The delights of cut-our paper craft with colour and black/white illustrations. Published by the Dryad Press in 1947. Birds and Beasts chalking Book cover illustration by Gilbert Rumbold. Twelve pages to be completed with chalk (all clean and untouched) two pages of colour illustrations to copy. Published by P. M. productions, London c1950. I can’t understand why this is still unused – my fingers itch to start colouring every time I look at it! My drawing Book a book for chalks or paints. Another undated book but probably 1950s. Thick board pages with colour illustrations to copy - giraffe, train, cat, mouse, bat, ball, goose, house. 

 The Toyland painting and tracing book a painting book for boys and girls. Published by BB Ltd.


Molly B. Thomson the Rainbow Paint Book Hardback book with dust jacket. 10 x 8 inches with 36 pages. 16 colour illustrations of fairies and elves. Opposite each illustration is the same picture to colour, three of these have been partly or fully completed. No date c1940s? 

Now something for the boys:
Press-out Express freight train action press out model - easy to make - no glue required, published by Bancroft in 1965. Make a model Samurai Warrior complete with authentic armour, including crested helmet and two swords. Read about the history and daily life of a Samurai warrior with detailed descriptions of fighting equipment. Published in 1991 by Simon and Schuster. 

and the girls:
Sue the air hostess cut out doll dressing book complete with story published by Peter Haddock, c1975. Four pages of colour outfits, including Sue’s uniform. Sue the air hostess is printed on the back cover waiting to be cut out and dressed.

A few more things to make;
The swing boat toy model story book published by Amex Co c1940s. Billy and Myrtle really want to visit the fair but mummy has a headache, and the fair is a really noisy place. So what do they do instead? Build a model fair ride of course! 

Our village shop published by Heinemann in 1983.  The past comes to life as you cut out and assemble this delightful model of an old-fashioned village shop. Our Village Shop is a red-brick, open-fronted store, complete with counters, a sub-post-office, a wide variety of provisions ranging from fruit and vegetables to rugs and laundry baskets, and even shop assistants and customers. The book also contains memories of a village shop, a true account of what it was like to work in such a store. Jean Sawyer, who worked in her grandfather's village, recalls it all in vivid detail. Devised and painted by Faith Jaques.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs a model tableau  with story, instructions and diagrams. Published by Litor publishers, Birmingham, 1956. I think the artist’s name is ‘Carlo Tora’ but it’s difficult to read the signature.

 Thanks to everyone who commented last week. I hope you are enjoyed this trip down memory lane.  

All the featured books are now sold, thank you for your interest.



Update July 2016: March House books closed on my retirement in 2015, but I do still blog here at March of Time Books and always appreciate your visit. 



Monday, 8 October 2012

The story of Bout and Moertje


I really want to share this beautiful picture book with you, so I'm hoping my first attempt at embedding a YouTube Video works! It looks OK to me but please let me know if you can’t get it to play.

My lovely friend Nicole de Cock provided the illustrations, and the music is by Martin Nijdam. The video is based on the story of Bout and Moertje (Scram the donkey and Screwy the mouse). It tells the story of the friendship between them – a friendship which sometimes seems out of balance, Screwy being the caring type and Scram the good-for-nothing. It teaches us that the quality of a friendship cannot be weighed and that giving can be just as rewarding as taking.




Published by Gottmer Publishing House, Haarlem, The Netherlands. 



Nicole has written and illustrated many other beautiful picture books, including the girl and the elephant and at the other side.



 Have you read anything by Nicole de Cock or seen any of her illustrations?

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Chloe Preston and the Peek-a-Boos

Chloe Preston was a British author-illustrator born in 1887. She illustrated stories by May Byron and Tom Preston (her brother) notably those featuring the 'Peek-a-Boos’ and the little wooden ‘Chunkies'. She also designed numerous postcards for Valentines and Raphael Tuck, soft toys for Farnells and nursery designs for Paragon China

I don’t have any Chloe Preston books in my collection, but I do have a few postcards and some nursery China.

The first two cards are from the Peek-a-Boo gardeners series c1920s

The Peek-a-Boos with Peek-a-Pup are going to plant some seeds. But first, of course, they dig and rake and pull up all the weeds.

This Peek-a-Boo brings out his broom to have a tidy up - he sweeps the rubbish all away. Likewise the Peek-a-Pup.
I love this one;

Improperly dressed at Lords (cricket ground). Published by A.R. & Co in 1927


The following are two nursery mugs from the Paragon Peek-a-Boo series marked to the base Paragon China, England.  Chloe Preston designed these around 1918-1919 just after the end of the First World War.

The outline of the design is transfer printed and then hand painted in enamels as is all the other Paragon children’s china from this period. I've been collecting Paragon pieces for a number of years, but these are the only two I've found designed by Chloe Preston. I have several designed by Eileen Soper and will feature those in a future post.



A case for Blighty and the recruiting officer.


 I'm sure these must come up for sale on eBay now and again, but I haven’t seen any for ages.

Do you remember the Peek-a-Boos?  

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

When is a novelty book not a novelty book?

When it’s something else!

According to the definition - a novelty book is a book with special built-in features such as pop-ups, foldout pages, flaps, or hidden sound chips.

When applying the above criteria none of the following books can be classified as novelties. So what is the collective term for books that include knitting or crafting patterns, 3D glasses, paper models, tracing pages, painting and colouring books and books with cut out paper dolls? I suppose activity book could be applied to some of them - but would you call a book with knitting patterns an activity book? I'm at a loss to think of a title that adequately describes them.



Make it yourself bird showcases! If that’s not a novelty, I don’t know what is! There are four different books in stock - the blue tit, the kingfisher, the long tailed-tit and the green woodpecker. Each bound in the original paper wraps with cut-out windows to view the birds, simple to construct without cutting or pasting. Published by Amex undated but c1940. 

Three story books with added extras;


Jimmy Jumbo's exciting Day written by Ethel Butterworth, published in 1945. Read the story and make your very own Jimmy the elephant. Complete with pattern and instructions. 


Dinah, Jum & Mac story book complete with patterns of Dinah, Jum & Mac to make up out of the 'rag bag'. Dinah is a little black rag doll. Jum is a blue and white elephant, and Mac is a little brown 'Scottie' dog. Complete with full-page colour illustrations plus six pages of text and patterns to fold out and make up. Published by the R A Publishing Co Ltd in 1948. 



The story of Willie Wombat and his friends, Flappy Frog, Paddy Platypus, Kathumper Kangaroo, Lizzie Lizard, Katy Koala, Mr. Possum, Robbie Rabbit, and the Happy Kookaburra who lived in Gundygoo, a little village far out in the bush. As you read about their adventures, the eight little pals come to life because you simply knit them!  Pretty book with ten knitting patterns. Published by Southdown Press in Melbourne, undated but probably 1940s. 




Now for some fun and Games;



Before 1066 & all that stories for children and adults with pictures to paint and crayon. Told by Richmond Lewis with pictures by Albert Underwood. I would guess this was published during the 40s so it’s remarkable to find it complete with the removable dust jacket, especially as the jacket turns into ‘an exciting race game’. The aim of the game is to move your chosen boat down the Trent from Trent Lock to Kelham passing Nottingham Castle, Beeston weir, Trent Bridge, Colwick Weir, Stoke Ferry and many other places en route. The game is unused and still has the spinner and four boats the Robin Hood, the Little John, the Friar Tuck and the Maid Marian ready to cut out and play. 


Living picture book  a series of photographs comprising animals, modern & ancient buildings, wonders & curiosities of the world, which when viewed through the Wonder Spectacles immediately spring to life!


Treasure Hunt designed by Alan George and published by W & A K Johnston in 1945. designed by Alan George and published by W & A K Johnston in 1945. John and Jennifer know that somewhere along the road is a castle where a miserly baron hid his treasure. John and Jennifer mean to find it, and could use your help!

Next week - colouring & paper-craft, a model tableau, a cut-out shop, express train, Samurai warrior and more. View here

Did you play with books like this when you were a child? Would you like to play with them now??

All the featured books are now sold, thank you for your interest.


Update July 2016: March House books closed on my retirement in 2015, but I do still blog here at March of Time Books and always appreciate your visit. 
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