Youthful Recreations. Philadelphia, J. Johnson, circa 1816-1818.
Unauthorised Edition. 32mp, (95 x 58 mm), pp. , wood-engraved vignette on title-page, including 15 full-page wood-engravings, in the original gilt-speckled yellow wrappers, old repairs to spine and foot of wrappers.
"'All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.' Who this Jack was, we never heard, but we assent to the principle; and it must be confessed, that youth is the time to obtain a stock of health, and that is best promoted by moderate exercise."
A scarce American piracy of this delightful book of children’s pastimes, illustrated with a wood-engraved vignette on the title-page of a boy in a barrow and 15 charming full-page wood engravings depicting different children’s games, with a caption title to identify each plate. Each page has an illustration on one side and text on the other, where details of the particular sports or games are described. The woodcuts depict Battledoor & Shuttlecock, Trap Ball, Hop Scotch, a Rocking Horse, Marbles, Trundling a Hoop, ‘Have a ride in my chair’, Swinging, Foot Ball, Flying a Kite, Bow and Arrow, ‘I Spie! Hi!’, Blind Man’s Buff, Skipping along rope and Bait the Bear.
‘To prevent bodily weakness and infirmity, exercise is necessary, and one physician has said, that ‘he did not know which was most necessary to the human frame, food or motion’. To play with battledore and shuttlecock or with trap and ball, is good exercise; and if we had it in our power to grant, not only the children of the affluent, but even such of the poor as are impelled by necessity to pick cotton, card wool, to sit and spin or reel all day, should have at least one hour, morning and evening, for some youthful recreations’ (pp. 6-7).
This title was first issued by Darton and Harvey in London in 1801 when it formed part of ‘The Infant’s Own Book-Case’, a boxed library set for children. OCLC lists the original Darton edition at the V&A, Princeton, Indiana and UCLA. This book has continued to catch the popular imagination and has been reprinted in modern times including an edition published in 1986 with a preface by Justin Schiller. The date estimate for this edition is taken from the OCLC McGill entry which cites the publisher’s address at No. 147 Market Street as noted in the 19th century American children’s book trade directory WWW site. Another OCLC entry gives  and lists copies at Dartmouth, Connecticut Historical Society, Yale, Syracuse, NYPL and Winterthur.
NB - Princeton date their copy to 1801.
See Darton G1072 for the original London, Darton and Harvey, 1801.