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Illustration Gold!

Dear Planksters,

I hope you are living your best lives and have been enjoying the last few beautiful sunny days!

Today I want to share with you a small collection of illustration treasures that come from six old children’s annuals dated between 1940 and 1952.

They came from a house clearance a few years ago from the late mother-in-law of a friend and from the beautiful inscriptions inside, they appear to be mostly birthday or Chanukah gifts to the recipient, Susan, who would have been four years old in 1949.

The covers are wonderful! I’m so taken with the beauty of the moon on this particular annual! Such charm and what manners!

Many illustrators managed to squeeze their initials somewhere onto their art, but sometimes, these were chopped off or just didn't exist at all so the artist got paid, but went without credit.

I love the detail of the black and white illustrations!

The pictures are all so charming but are very much of their time and lack diversity and representation with many of the stories having some very questionable elements.

I’m rather obsessed with Cuthbert the Conker – taken from the ‘Little People Of The Woods’ annual...

What’s not to like?! He’s a bit of a bookworm and is rather forgetful. One day though he wasn’t feeling well and went to Dr. Owl because; “His head was muzzy, his hands shook like leaves in a breeze and he didn’t walk so much as stagger along.” Turns out he’d been working too hard and needed to throw a party! - Now that’s the kind of prescription you want!!

(Incidentally, for any of you already emotionally invested in Cuthbert’s story, he did invite a bunch of friends for a party, but then promptly forgot about it and had an awkward encounter with Timothy Toadstool who made the effort to show up only to be faced with a distinct lack of; “cakes, jellies and custards and sandwiches.” and insisted that; “You can’t have a party without those things!” – He was right, of course. Turns out though that some of his other friends including Clara Caterpillar, Molly Mole, and Mrs. Ladybird knew him well and, aware of his chronic forgetfulness brought lots of food with them and saved the day.) I particularly like how Cuthbert is sometimes referred to by his first name and on other occasions, the more formal, ‘Mr. Conker’ is used.

Take in the glorious attention to detail!

...And remember that ‘no grown-ups’ are allowed!

Planksters, I doff my floppy hat to the talented illustrators of these superb annuals and am off to see if I can find out any more information about my new obsession, Cuthbert – ( or, Mr. Conker to you! ) Do feel free to share your thoughts and I’d especially love to hear any memories from your favourite annuals!

With my recently doffed hat firmly back on my head, I offer you kindly salutations!

Thalamus Plank.

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