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img715Amazing at times how a small story falls into place when you least expect it. On Friendship a delicate 62 page hardcover book, measuring a mere four and a half by seven and a quarter inches, so it could fit in an inner pocket, was printed in 1966 by the fine letter press printer The Peter Pauper Press.

Edited by Louise Bachelder it was illustrated by the now very famous American-German illustrator of children’s books Eric Carle.

Eric Carle’s seventy children’s books have sold by the millions, all over the world in numerous editions. They have enchanted many adults and children alike through his special way of illustrating, not dissimilar by much to the effect of a woodcut at first, but in the collage technique. The collage technique was developed by him, and explained by way of videos at his own museum The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts, founded in 2002 by him and his wife Barbara.

Searching the museum site and Carle’s own website, I could not find a bibliographic listing for his early work anywhere. Interesting all the more when you realize that a well known book dealer at the recent Boston International Book Fair advertised, in a catalog, a first edition signed copy with a nice doodle, of his very famous classic book from 1969 The Hungry Caterpillar for a six figure price. That book sold over 30 million copies! The copy of the On Friendship book shown here sells for a few dollars on Amazon. So much about “value” which I presume is a personal thing mediated by certain canons.

The value for me in this little book, lies in the combination of the topic and illustrator and the period of production.

Well, famous authors and illustrators had to start somewhere. The Peter Pauper Press is a company with an 80 year very interesting history. Mrs. Beilensen, a partner in the business, started by her husband, was also the first woman elected to the prestigious Grolier Club, and was honored with numerous awards. The Peter Pauper Press printed letter press books for New Directions and other fine publishers, often illustrated by the best illustrators working in the United States at the time. They published quite a bit of poetry, and certainly had the right idea picking Eric Carle. Looking at the illustrations in this 1966 book, I faintly see the gist of his later fabulous illustrative work.

Searching the internet for a Peter Pauper Press bibliography, oddly not available through that very same press, I ended up at the University of Tampa in their Book studio where I found it. From there, it was an easy trip to their blog where I found some interesting information about the poet Robert Frost. Who knew about this well kept Academe secret in Florida? So now you know too, a few more things about fine printing and such matters. This is what sharing is all about.

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