Old Mother Hubbard, in colour

As I work through the chapbooks collection as a digitizer, I earmark things that I’d like to learn more about. This one is an interesting example, not only of a classic children’s tale (which, not being part of my childhood, I didn’t know had such a morbid undercurrent of grief-inflicted mental breakdown) in chapbook style, but of the kind of illustration work provided to items like this. The engravings are good, but the colouring seems to have been hand-applied, possibly in an assembly-line process that doesn’t seem to allow for much precision. I really want to isolate the dog in the first illustration, just to highlight the random intersections of blue, yellow, and orange.

You can see more of Old Mother Hubbard And Her Wonderful Dog in the Children’s Collection in Rare Books and Special Collections. If you know anything about the printing and colouring processes for books like this, feel free to share. You can find a similar colouring technique (applied with much greater precision) in Jack The Giant Killer — and woodcuts suspiciously similar to Old Mother Hubbard’s distinctive features in Old Dame Trot.

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