Library of Congress Has Digitized 100 Rare and Classic Children’s Books

iStock.com/ra2studio
iStock.com/ra2studio

One hundred rare and vintage children’s books can now be read online for free via the Library of Congress’s website, according to The New York Times. The titles, all of which were published at least a century ago, were digitized in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the first national Children’s Book Week.

“Some of these books are hundreds of years old and no child will ever see them except through a glass case, so it is a way to get these books into the hands of children,” Jacqueline Coleburn, the library’s rare book cataloger, told the newspaper.

There are plenty of recognizable titles, including early versions of Humpty Dumpty, Mother Goose in Prose, Grimm’s Animal Stories, Red Riding Hood, The Secret Garden, Stories from Hans Andersen, The Story of the Three Little Pigs, and more. All of the books can be viewed as downloadable PDFs or in a text-only format.

The oldest one in the digital collection is A Little Pretty Pocket Book, which was imported from Britain and printed in the U.S. in 1787. According to the British Library, the book is “generally considered to be the first book specifically directed at children.” Of course, it was a product of its time, and the gender roles represented therein will likely seem outdated by today’s standards. The book came with a free ball for boys and a pin cushion for girls to demonstrate that these objects would help make the characters—Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly—a “good boy” and a “good girl.”

Other books in the collection are exceedingly rare. One book from 1824, titled The Juvenile National Calendar, or, A Familiar Description of the U.S. Government, is one of just three copies in the world. In poem format, the book describes the different roles of state leaders. Of the president, the book states:

"He, Ambassadors sends to the Nations afar;
He is chief of the soldiers who fight in the war;
He may pardon the convict, of hanging in fear;
And he gets Twenty five thousand dollars a year."

[h/t The New York Times]

A 17th-Century Book With a Hidden Compartment for Poison Is Selling for $11,000

Abebooks
Abebooks

Most rare books are noteworthy for their illustrations or prose. But there's something different hiding between the covers of a folio currently for sale for $11,000 on AbeBooks: The book acts as a miniature apothecary cabinet with spaces for storing jars of poison.

The secret storage box masquerading as a manuscript was likely assembled sometime in the 19th century, Atlas Obscura reports. It uses the leather binding of Sebastião Barradas's Opera omnia, vol. III—a theology text from the mid-17th century—as its shell. Two hundred years or so after the original book was published, someone pasted together the pages and hollowed them out to make room for a discreet apothecary lab. A shelf holds four glass bottles measuring 10 centimeters high. Tiny drawers are labeled with the names of poisonous plants—such as hemlock, foxglove, and Devil's snare—in German, suggesting the book safe was crafted in Germany. On the inside of the front cover, a memento mori illustration depicts two skeletons above the Latin Bible quote "Statutum est hominibus semel mori," which means, "All men are destined to die once."

The Vienna-based antique bookseller INLIBRIS is selling the oddity through Abebooks. The sellers don't know the full backstory of the object, but they suspect it's not as dark as the skulls and poison labels suggest. Rather than being an authentic lab used by a poisoner, the book was likely made as a gag item.

The book may have been intended as a hoax, but that doesn't mean it can't be used as hidden storage today—ideally for something other than poison. Curio collectors can purchase the item for $10,924.51.

Book with secret compartment.
Abebooks

Secret compartment with bottles in book.
Abebooks

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Daniel Radcliffe’s Original Harry Potter Glasses Are Hitting the Auction Block

© 2001 - Warner Bros. - All Rights Reserved
© 2001 - Warner Bros. - All Rights Reserved

Having trouble reading your spell books and A History of Hogwarts? Maybe all you need is a pair of original Harry Potter glasses. If you’re a diehard Potterhead, you can now buy one of the first pairs that Daniel Radcliffe himself wore on the set of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).

The glasses are on auction on EwbankAuctions.com, but you might want to check your vault in Gringotts before you decide to put a bid down, because the movie prop is going for about £3000 to £5000 (around $3800 to $6300).

The description for the glasses is as follows:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) - Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, a pair of silver metal wire frame glasses. Round clear lenses, bordered in black matte finish, silver metal earpieces tipped with transparent plastic. Left frame arm inscribed 'FRAME MADE IN ENGLAND' and right earpiece numbered '40 20 135'. These glasses are one of only a small number of pairs produced for the film. This is one of the first pairs of glasses Daniel Radcliffe wore as Harry Potter.

Judging by the photo provided, the glasses look to be in spectacular condition, and come in a black eyeglass case.

The auction site is also offering up other props from the Harry Potter films, such as Hagrid’s bird house from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), a song sheet used by the students in the Great Hall at Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and even one of the many sealed Hogwarts acceptance envelopes that were sent to Harry's home in the first film.

Whoever the lucky winners of these bidding wars are, they’ll get to have special pieces of the Harry Potter films that no one else has. So be careful of any envious friends who might perform a Confundus Charm on you.

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