1880s Bizarre Children's Booklet Harriet & the Matches

  • Sold for: Start Free Trial or Sign In to see what it's worth.
  • Item Category: Books, Paper & Magazines
  • Source: eBay
  • Sold Date: Mar 04, 2009
  • Channel: Auction House

Children's Little Book Entitled Harriet and the Matches, Aunt Mollies Series, Published by Peter G. Thomson, Cincinnati Ohio . Estimated publication date 1882 to 1887.8 pages long counting the front and back cover (since their pictures are part of the story) Staple binding with tear of binding below bottom staple. Corner off on lower right and chip on bottom edge. No writing in booklet. Looks like a water type mark on inside back cover with no change in the integrity of the paper. Measures 6” by 4”.

In 1882 Peter G. Thomson and his wife started to publish children’s books and games. Later, valentines were added. The children's books sold for a dime.This business was so successful that in 1887 it was bought by the McLaughlin Brothers of Brooklyn, N. Y., in an effort to end Thomson’s competition in children's publications. He then went into the paper business after that. So the publication estimation time of this booklet is between 1882 and 1887.

The original manuscript was written by Heinrich Hoffmann, a Frankfurt physician who wanted to buy a picture book for his son for Christmas in 1844. Not impressed by what the stores had to offer, he instead bought a notebook and wrote his own stories and pictures. Der Struwwelpeter (1845) was a popular German children's book by Heinrich Hoffmann. It comprises ten illustrated and rhymed stories, mostly about children. Each has a clear moral that demonstrates the disastrous consequences of misbehavior in an exaggerated way. The first English translation appeared in 1848. The Dreadful Story of Pauline and the Matches which was also known as The Dreadful Story of Harriet and the Matches. T are cats in the story which are not named in the Harriet version but are known as Minz and Maunz in the the original German version.

Poem/Nursery Rhyme reads as follows:

It almost makes me cry to tell

What foolish Harriet befell.

Mamma and Nurse went out one day

And left her all alone at play.

Now, on the table close at hand,

A box of matches chanced to stand;

And kind Mamma and Nurse had told her,

That, if she touched them, they would scold her.

But Harriet said: "Oh, what a pity!

For, when they burn, it is so pretty;

They crackle so, and spit, and flame:

Mamma, too, often does the same."

The pussy-cats heard this,

And they began to hiss,

And stretch their claws,

And raise their paws;

"Me-ow," they said, "me-ow, me-o,

You'll burn to death, if you do so."

But Harriet would not take advice:

She lit a match, it was so nice!

It crackled so, it burned so clear—

Exactly like the picture

She jumped for joy and ran about

And was too pleased to put it out.

The Pussy-cats saw this

And said: "Oh, naughty, naughty Miss!"

And stretched their claws,

And raised their paws:

"'Tis very, very wrong, you know,

Me-ow, me-o, me-ow, me-o,

You will be burnt, if you do so."

And see! oh, what dreadful thing!

The fire has caught her apron-string;

Her apron burns, her arms, her hair—

She burns all over everyw

Then how the pussy-cats did mew—

What else, poor pussies, could they do?

They screamed for help, 'twas all in vain!

So then they said: "We'll scream again;

Make haste, make haste, me-ow, me-o,

She'll burn to death; we told her so."

So she was burnt, with all her clothes,

And arms, and hands, and eyes, and nose;

Till she had nothing more to lose

Except her little scarlet shoes;

And nothing else but these was found

Among her ashes on the ground.

And when the good cats sat beside

The smoking ashes, how they cried!

"Me-ow, me-oo, me-ow, me-oo,

What will Mamma and Nursey do?"

Their tears ran down their cheeks so fast,

They made a little pond at last.