The treasure that emerged from today’s investigations of the Museum of Childhood book collection was a small red book with gold writing tooled on its binding announcing that it contained Tales from Catland. While kittens and cats are currently the most popular posts on the internet and social media, this popularity is not a new phenomenon. During the Victorian era cats were very popular as the subject of books, cards, paintings and even stuffed and displayed in cases with humanistic poses.
A Christmas card from the Museum of Childhood collections c.1860-70
Inside the small red covers is a dedication to ‘Eliza Hewat from her affectionate Uncle Alexander 1851’. The Victorians were, of course, very enthusiastic celebrants of Christmas and the custom of giving children presents for Christmas really took off at this time. Many of our festive traditions today are rooted in how the Victorians celebrated, especially after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert appeared in an engraving celebrating Christmas at Windsor around a tree adorned with gifts at Windsor published in 1848 in the Illustrated London News.
Welcome to the blog of the Scotland’s Early Literature for Children Initiative! SELCIE is a project that aims to explore the forgotten history of Scotland’s literature for children.
Our current work is in conjunction with Edinburgh’s Museum of Childhood, which has the UK’s largest collection of childhood associated objects. Within these collections are some 11,000 books that members of SELCIE are helping to catalogue.
Our meeting point outside the City Chambers
Every week, our team head down into the Museum’s stores in the City Chambers to sort through the boxes of books housed there.
Morgan working in the Museum of Childhood’s store in the City Chambers
The collection is full of hidden treasures and every week we find special items that bring us closer to the children of Scotland’s past. From funny doodles to touching inscriptions, we never fail to find beautiful reminders of the ups and downs of childhood during our visits.
One of our special finds: a book that has been hand-painted by its owner
Please join us on our journey to make these objects more accessible to the public! On the right, you can sign up to our newsletter, which will let you know when we make our fortnightly post. You can also follow us weekly on Twitter here! We hope you will enjoy the special items we find as much as we do.
This post written by Danielle