Inspired by Bumper Books for Children

This Catalogue of Creativity stands on the shoulders of publishers like Coles and is meant to provide like-minded people with a range of creative stimuli. 

For over a decade, at the beginning of the twentieth-first century, when the internet was still a relatively unchartered region, the Soul Food Cafe reached out, promoting the therapeutic benefits of making art and writing a daily practice. It strove to warm the stone artist

The huge vault of material that is available at Soul Food remains a testament to the power of creativity to connect and heal. The purpose of this catalogue is to celebrate the work of Heather Blakey, to explore and discover just what lay within this vast site that few have fully navigated.

Newspaper advertisements from December 1881 mentioned that a new and enlarged edition would be shortly published. By November 1882, copies were reviewed, in Melbourne bookshops and advertised as being for Christmas and birthday giving from as little as one shilling and sixpence.

The original Les Kentwell cover design was printed by Robert Bell and the binding of this second issue is stamped W. Detmold. William Detmold was a noted German-born, Australian bookbinder, printer and stationer who operated out of Swanston and later Collins Street, Melbourne. Detmold was well known for his quality binding, winning a silver medal for same at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in September 1878, and at the Melbourne International Exhibition in 1880.

Cole was keen to make a splash:

He very much wanted to be able to sell the book in the Arcade for the strikingly low price of a shilling, so that it would be the cheapest as well as the best of children’s picture books. He told Bell he wanted the finest production possible for just under a shilling a copy production cost, for he was willing to forfeit his profit on the book-on this first edition, at any rate-so that it would achieve immediate popularity. Profits could come from the increased goodwill he was sure it would bring Cole’s Book Arcade. (Cole Turney, Cole of the book arcade: a biography of E.W. Cole, p. 57)

Although previously thought to be a presentation binding, it’s not inconceivable that this is indeed the standard 1882 publisher binding in festive red for Christmas!

The handsome volume was applauded once in the hands of reviewers:

Cole’s funny picture books is to hand. It contains over 60 pages of rhymes and an immense number of pictures, each of which is a “study.” However the work can be produced with a cover containing a double brilliant rainbow for the price of one and sixpence is a mystery. (North Melbourne Advertiser, 29 December 1882, p. 2)

The gamble paid off and there were many hundreds of thousands of copies of the book sold over the years that followed.

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