Among my many family treasures is a worn leather bound book owned by my great grandfather, the youngest of nine siblings. The volume was likely bound to preserve a loved collection of the children’s magazine Babyland published by D. Lothrop & Co. of Boston. The volume contains issues from December 1884 to December 1885. Among the many short stories are beautiful engravings, many lovingly enhanced with a child’s water colors.
The aspect of this book I find the most intriguing is the publishing company’s “Premium List of Toys” in the back. Existing subscribers were encouraged to find new subscribers among their friends and family and in return they would receive a toy of their choice from the list. Subscriptions ranged from twenty-five cents to two dollars and the toys are listed in the same range. If you acquired a new subscription from a friend in the amount of fifty cents you could acquire a doll’s high chair or a parlor rubber ball. Higher levels of subscription offered the opportunity to purchase discounted items such as board games, target guns, drawing sets, chalkboards, tea sets, lawn games, and building blocks.
The toy that caught my eye was the “Children’s Ideal Knitter.” By acquiring a new subscriber at the cost of fifty cents to Babyland you could receive the “Ideal Knitter” and if a one dollar subscription was attained for some of the other Lothrop titles the “Ideal Knitter“ would be accompanied with two colors of Germantown wool. A brass stitch lifter and instructions were also included.
Images: Babyland (Boston: D. Lothrop & Co., 1885) from the collection of Nicole H. Scalessa. Photograph courtesy of Nicole H. Scalessa.
Nicole H. Scalessa Vice President, Center for Knit and Crochet IT Manager, The Library Company of Philadelphia