“The Daisy”? A Pet Book? What Are Those?

For this project, I knew that I wanted to pick a book that applied to my major or minor – Psychology and Human Development – because I wanted to be able to connect the work done in this course to other courses I am taking this semester. Starting last semester, I have been spending one morning a week in an early education center where the students are between 3- and 5-years-old. This led me to become particularly interested in using The Daisy or Cautionary Stories in verse as my “pet.” Originally written in 1806 by Elizabeth Turner, later republished in 1830 with the illustrations by Samuel Williams, and then republished again in 1885 with the inclusion of the introduction, this book is a collection of short children’s stories that have been “adapted to the ideas of children, from four to eight years old.” In the original publication, all of the written by Elizabeth Turner, and in this edition, thirty illustrations have been added. All of these stories are “cautionary tales” that are meant to teach children how to act.

The small, compact size of the book is one that is often seen in children’s books. The cover is solid, made with cardboard, and is covered in solid green fabric with no writing on the front or back cover. The corners of the book and the top and bottom of the spine are a little warn and there are some marks on the front and back cover from what looks like being used over the years. Since the green color of the spine is the same green color as the front and back cover, I assume that this book was not left on a shelf, but was actually left out and used often. The only writing on the outside of the book was toward the top of the spine and simply said The Daisy. This leads me to assume that this book was not bought to be shown off, but because of its contents. It is also possible that this was a very popular book at the time, so people knew what it contained just by the name, making it unnecessary to cover the book with the title and author’s name.

    

The binding itself is strong, hasn’t been broken, and I didn’t fear that any leaves were going to fall out as I flipped through the book. The leaves were thick, and the edges were slightly uneven from the others, slightly worn on the edges, and textured in a way to made the book look rough and used. When looking closely at each leaf, a ribbed texture/patter became apparent, and when held up to the light, watermarks are apparent on some pages.

When opening the book to the inside cover, there was a book plate expressing that this book was given to Colby College as a gift from Miss Margaret Perry from Hancock, New Hampshire. The first leaf was a page originally left blank when the book was published, but had an inscription that was later written in. The writing is in two different materials (what looks like to be ink and lead from a pencil), so I assume that part of the writing was done at a later time. The ink reads: “T. S. Perry/from Aunt Susan./Boston: Dec. 25, 1891.” The lead writing is in two spots: 1) the top left corner and reads “9016” with a line under it; 2) slightly below the top left corner and reads, what I think to be, “mid.” Due to the date written in the inscription, this copy was most likely given as a Christmas gift to “T. S. Perry” from his aunt. Upon researching Margaret Perry and her connection to Colby, I found that she was the daughter of Thomas Sergeant Perry, who I assume to be T.S.. Margaret became familiar with Colby because Margaret became close with Ruth Robinson Nivison, who was the niece Edwin Arlington Robinson (as in the Robinson Room in Special Collections). After his death, Margaret donated her father’s personal library to Colby, which included The Daisy.

Flipping a few leaves into the book, I came across the title page. There were a variety of fonts that each signified a different aspect of the title page. The title, written at the top of the leaf, was written in two different sizes with “Daisy” written in the largest font on the entire leaf. “Cautionary Stories” came next and was written slightly smaller, but was still written in larger text than the rest of the leaf. The rest of the leaf included the name of the illustrator, Samuel Williams, the number of the edition, 21, and information on the publishers. All of the text was written in capitol lettering. The leaf directly left the title page contained three examples of other children’s stories that had been reprinted (similar to this book) by the same publishers, and gave a brief description of each book. Changes made in the reprint, why the book was reprinted, and some information on the illustrator. Following the brief history was a table of contents outlining the titles of each story and the page number in which each story began. In total, there were about 30-35 stories.

The first story begins just after the table of contents. At the top of the leaf the title of the book appears in large capitol letters, and only appears on the first story. Directly under that is a black and white illustration of a young girl sitting outside with a black cat on her lap. Under the picture, which takes up most of the page, is the number of the story written in the Roman Numeral I, and the title of the story, Pretty Puss., written in italicized lettering smaller than the title of the book at the top of the leaf. The story itself is short, the margins are normal to what we see in books now, and the print is medium-sized and easy to read. This is true for each of the stories in the book, and because this is a children’s book, and the age group specified is a time when children are beginning to learn how to read, it makes sense that there are pictures for each story, that each story is short, and that the font is easy to read.

Here is an example of one of the stories from the book titled The Giddy Girl. Each story, while containing different content, has a similar format to this – page number at the top of each leaf, a large illustration, story number in Roman Numerals, story title, and then a short, easy to read story. In this example you can also see that the writing on each leaf can be seen on the other side, but it doesn’t take away from the reader’s ability to see the images or print. For the most part, there were very little marks (writing, watermarks, small holes or tears in the leaves) inside the book, which could mean that adults were handling this book more often than children were.

     

 

At the bottom of the leaf of the final story, there is a line printed. Under that line reads “Turnbull & Spears, Printers, Edinburgh.” in small, italicized writing. The leaves following are completely blank, and the inside of the back cover contains nothing but a small printing label in the bottom left corner. This label reveals that this edition was printed in Boston by W.B. Clarke & Co.