Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Golden Books

A Little Bit About Golden Books

Most people, young and old alike know what a Golden Book is.  You know them as the little books with the golden spine that tell so many different stories.  They are everywhere, not only in bookstores but more likely to be found in the checkout isle in your food store or in what used to be called a Dime Store.

My love of them began not as a child, but when a coworker came in one day and gave me a huge bag full of children's books.  This was when my son was young, and my friend said keep what you want and toss what you don't.  Toss????  Heck no, and that bag started a whole new love in my life when I pulled out a 1940 edition of a Golden Book.  I was hooked. 


These are two of the books that were in that bag, that hooked me into collecting them for life.  It was then I began to do some research wanting to learn more about these wonderful little books.  I thought they always had a shiny binding, but these had a dull golden binding.   I wanted to know why.

It's a long story as to how the Little Golden Book came to be, but in short the first 12 titles were originally released in 1942. When Simon and Schuster Publishing Firm got together with Western Printing they decided that if they could print in large volume, they could create a low priced series of children's books. Something that was needed very much during those days.

The result was a book that was filled with colorful, bright pages that were small enough to be handled by most children, and affordable for most families.  At just 25 cents each, parents could afford to buy them when comparing the price to other children's books that cost around 50 cents each.  This all was happening during wartime, when there were shortages of everything, and the books became popular very quickly.  In just five months they sold one and a half million copies filling toy chests, and being played with.

This is just the beginning of that long story, and Little Golden Books grew in popularity and eventually new formats were created.  We now know them with the shiny bright golden binding, and they are still loved.

This shows my current collection.  The top shelf are all first editions, the second shelf other editions or printings, and the third shelf - well they were all my sons.  Yes, I loved them before he was born and he got lots.

 Many vintage and antique shops sell Golden books, and they are highly collectable.  Do you know how to tell a first edition?  In the older books it is actually quite easy.  Just go to the back of the book, and very gently pull the bottom of the last page away from the back cover.  You will see a letter there.  If you have an "A" you have a first edition.  But they have other letters, and that does not necessarily mean a second or third edition.  A "B" usually means a second printing.  A "C" means a third printing, and on and on.  As a seller, if you can list your book as a first edition, you will not only have a better item for sale, but it is also worth more money.  So when shopping for older Golden Books, use this tip and always list what you have for better results.  The newer books just have it in the front, usually written as first edition.

These are some of the older books.  Note how the binding is not as shiny and bright.

This set is called Tiny Golden Books.  They first appeared for sale in 1948 and were housed in their own little bookshelf.  These books are only 2 1/4" x 3 1/4" and have 24 pages.  I see a lot of them loose for sale, but finding them in the bookshelf isn't so easy.  I am lucky enough to have two full sets.

Today there are different versions that have been published throughout the years.  There are Big Golden Books, The Golden Book Encyclopedia, Funtime Books such as coloring or books with paper dolls.  There are Giant Golden Books, Giant Golden Punch-Out Books, and Giant Sturdy Books.  I could go on and on.

The subjects are very wide spread from Howdy Doody to Roy Rogers.  From The Pokey Little Puppy to The Saggy Baggy Elephant.  There are Disney stories and lots of them, including my favorite Pinocchio.  There are fairy tales and stories about all kinds of animals.  Many people collect them for their illustrators, and some of the best can be had.  Eloise Wilkin, Gustaf Tenggren, and Richard Scarry are just a couple.  There are so many more.

You can usually find a book or two for sale at my Etsy shop Paper of Yesterday

Reference:  Tomart's Price Guide to Golden Book Collectables by Rebecca Greason

About the Author:

Jane Dominick is a member and admin at Got Vintage Shops on Facebook.  She owns and operates Paper of Yesterday and