the generosity of Justin Schiller, Ltd. antiquarian booksellers,
the de Grummond Collection has enriched its holdings with
a unique donation/purchase of a substantial collection of
McLoughlin Brothers published books, original illustrations,
and other related publication materials.
The McLoughlin Brothers publishing firm was established in
1828 by John McLoughlin, a young Scottish immigrant. His job
with the Sterling Iron Company put him in contact with Robert
Hoe, a manufacturer of printing presses and eventually led
to his interest in publishing children's books. After a brief
employment with the New York Times, McLoughlin purchased a
hand press, some fonts of type and produced his first children's
pamphlet in 1828. By 1840 he had merged with Robert H. Elton,
a competitor who was known as the "Cruikshank of America"
for his skill as a wood engraver. Thomas Bewick, British naturalist
illustrator had popularized wood engraving, or "white line
drawing," as a method of book illustration at the close of
the 18th century.
McLoughlin and Elton issued toy books, comic almanacks and
valentines under the imprint of Elton & Co. until 1850 when
both retired. McLoughlin's son John, Jr. had joined the firm
when still a teenager and had become a partner at age 21.
His first change after succeeding his father as publisher
was to change the imprint to "John McLoughlin, successor to
Elton & Co." By the mid 1850s his brother Edmund joined the
firm where they worked together as "McLoughlin Brothers."
Their business thrived and they added toys, games, paper dolls
and other novelty items to their successful line of books.
John, Jr. seemed to have inherited his father's talent and
love for the process of making children's books. He became
the first, and for many years the only, printer in America
to issue books with colored illustrations. The color was achieved
through a stenciling process used until the early 1860s. Since
the brothers were always eager to adopt the newest technology,
they progressed from the hand-stenciling, to wood engraving
in color and finally to chromolithography. They were also
the first American printer to use zinc plates. Their domination
of the children's book field led to the opening of a new factory
in Brooklyn in 1870, said to be the largest such factory in
the United States.
For a time the firm relied on reprinting designs pirated from
British publishers and illustrators. They introduced American
children to the genius of British illustrators Randolph Caldecott,
Kate Greenaway, and Walter Crane. It was not until the isolation
caused by the Civil War that a truly American school of illustration
was born. McLoughlin's premier illustrator was Thomas Nast,
well known political cartoonist who in 1870 created the definitive
image of Santa Claus, as well as the symbolic Republican elephant
and the Democratic donkey. After Nast, the firm continued
to employ celebrated artists. Palmer Cox, creator of the Brownies;
Justin H. Howard; Helena Maguire, famous English painter of
animals; G.A. Davis, the Jessie Willcox Smith of her day;
and Howard Pyle all contributed to the continued success of
the McLoughlin Brothers publications.
Although Edmund retired in 1885, John continued to expand
the business and constructed a complete lithographic plant
in 1894. So great was the business that a staff of 75 artists
was employed at the Brooklyn factory to design books and games.
As was often the case with McLoughlin artists, their work
After guiding the firm for nearly sixty years, John McLoughlin,
Jr. died in 1907 and control was turned over to his sons James
G. and Charles. Neither son had inherited his father's passion
for publishing children's books, so the firm languished until
Charles' death in 1920. McLoughlin Brothers publishers was
offered for sale by James and the stock, plates, machinery
and good will was purchased by a major competitor, Milton
Bradley, of Springfield, Massachusetts who retained the McLoughlin
name and much of the personnel. The new owners employed artists
Frederick Richardson, Janet Laura Scott, Katherine Sturges,
Harrison Cady, Hildegard Lupprian, Clara M. Burd and others
famous in the art circles of the day. In 1938 a mainstay of
the McLoughlin line was artist Geraldine Clyne, creator of
the best-selling "The Jolly Jump-Ups" three dimensional books.
The McLoughlin line continued to flourish as part of the Milton
Bradley empire, but despite the popular "Sing-a-Song" xylophone
book which sold 250,000 copies and the average yearly sales
totaling about 500,000 units, the McLoughlin line came under
control of bankers who decided to liquidate the stock. The
firm was sold to Julius Kushner, a New York toy manufacturer,
in late 1951. Kushner planned to proceed with the liquidation,
but after a study of the McLoughlin history and the realization
of its outstanding contribution to the American children's
publishing industry, he decided to continue production under
the time-honored McLoughlin name. He increased print runs
of popular titles, lowered the retail prices, and added titles
to the Color Classics series. Despite his improvements, the
firm was once again sold in 1954, this time to Grosset & Dunlap,
who continued to publish novelty items and toy books bearing
the McLoughlin imprint for another 20 years. As late as 1978
this historically important imprint was still used on a few
special publications, surviving 150 years after John McLoughlin's
first pamphlet was printed.
At John McLoughlin's death, the writer of his obituary in
Publishers Weekly said, "Every child in the land knows the
McLoughlin toys and books, and even across the seas their
edition of Mother Goose has been sent printed in many languages.
In fact, the history in the last decade of colored toy books
for youngsters is the history of Mr. McLoughlin and his firm."
Prior to this recent donation/purchase, the de Grummond Collection
had impressive holdings of McLoughlin imprints including more
than 300 19th century titles, nearly 100 titles from the 20th
century, an 1891 Palmer Cox Brownies cube puzzle box and a
rare proof scrap book that survived a flood that destroyed
the Springfield plant. The proof book contains approximately
1200 woodblock proofs printed by the McLoughlin Brothers in
the latter half of the 19th century. Many of the proofs are
annotated, providing remarks on their acceptability for publication.
According to McLoughlin scholar, Michael Joseph, the proof
book served as a "Rosetta Stone" for his inquiry.
The new acquisition consists of 150 published books dating
from the 1870s to the 1940s, encompassing classics, fairy
tales, Mother Goose rhymes, painting books, shape books, foreign
language titles, and even three rare Horatio Alger imprints.
Original materials include dummies, original illustrations,
typescripts, and proofs for titles such as The Six Happy Goats,
Happy Jaspar, The Little Tin Soldier, Bobby Beaver, and The
House in the Woods with illustrations by artists Pru Herric,
Betty Howe, Sari, Robert A. Graef, Ianray, and Catherine Merritt.
A large amount of publisher correspondence from the 1940s
is also included.
The combination of our previous holdings and the recent acquisition
makes a fantastic research archive available to scholars in
a variety of fields. More that 500+ McLoughlin titles have
been cataloged and are accessible through our online
catalog. Also, thanks to our third NEH grant, a detailed
of the original materials is now online.