Friday, October 7, 2011

COLLECTION #71: Vintage School Art Books

 I have been collecting vintage school books for many years. I have hundreds of readers, dozens of science books, many arithmetic, spelling, history, geography, health, social studies, and penmanship books. But I only have three school art books. Why is that? My guess is because no one ever produced school art books. Do you remember art class in grade school? Did you use a book? I thought not!   (Click on any of these photos for a closer look).

See? Design is everywhere! I love these retro poster designs!

Amazing illustrations! And a whole section about architecture!

What every child should know- how to set a pretty table!

But these terrific art books, called Art Stories, published by Scott, Foresman (who also published the Dick & Jane Readers), are amazing in every way.  I have volumes one, two and three. I have never been able to find any other volumes, but these three are so inspiring- I wish every child could learn from them today. They were published in 1934, and the lessons in them is so much more than color wheels and drawing still lifes. They have lessons on architecture, interior design, art appreciation, perspective, color theory and harmony, and there's even a page or two about my profession: toy design!  The overlying theory is that art is everywhere you look, and understanding design, line, form and color can help an individual improve his or her life. It seems very practical to me, where some schools of thought teach that art is merely personal expression, and has very little practical use in the world. These books are so refreshing!

I love this book... there are several pages about my own profession- toy design!

I love the fun, colorful art deco illustrations

I've also discovered that these little gems are expensive to collect. They are rarely found online for under $75 apiece.  But I love mine, and love the sweet illustrations.  The colors are beautiful, and there are lots of lovely art deco motifs, and brilliant line drawings. Each book also has many reproductions of the works of the great art masters, and popular artists and illustrators of that day.


Kim said...

Love the illustrations. They take me back. I can remember the feel, the smell and the feeling of my early school books and learning to read. And sitting in the little chairs. said...

This set of books has always been a favorite of mine. The design is amazing from cover to the fine illustrations. Top notch books!

Goldielover said...

Agree these books are gorgeous. However, they can be picked up quite reasonably if you look around a bit. I've just purchased mine. Books One and Two were $18.00 and $20.00 respectively, and are in great shape. Book Three is a little rougher, but still at least the equal of the ones in the picture above, and only cost $4.99. There are only the three of them. As far as I can tell, Scott Foresman published three each of Science Stories, Art Stories, Health Stories and Number Stories. I have complete sets of Science Stories and Art Stories, and will be getting Health Stories this month. The 1930s versions of Number Stories seem to be the rarest, although there are some on ABE. The 1940s versions are common.