Cloth books are soft, safe to handle, washable and will not tear. They will last for generations to become family heirlooms. BessBooks is creating new cloth books using the same time honored, durable construction, with bright colors, rhyming words and basic counting
There is a nostalgia about cloth books. The book Oh, Look! pictured here has been in my husband’s family since he was a baby. Although stained and faded, it has held up better than any paper bound book would have and can still be enjoyed by babies visiting our home today.
Many of the important cloth book companies from the 1800s and 1900s are listed below.
PEGGY CLOTH-BOOKS, INC. was in business before WWII. This company produced Oh, Look!, copyright 1947.
DEAN’S RAG BOOK CO. was founded in August 8, 1903 by Samuel Dean, a publisher and toy maker in London. The company’s trademark until 1955 was two bulldogs trying to pull apart a cloth book. The motto was “Dean’s Rag Books. Quite Indestructible.” The founder is reported to have said about his company’s books that they are “made for children who wear the food and eat their clothes.” An example can be viewed here: Dean’s Rag Books and Rag Dolls, Peter and Dawn Cope
ELESKA BOOKS, founded by Lene Schneider-Kainer, was in business from the 1940s-1952. She earned a reputation for producing washable, chewable cloth books for children under the age of 4. Copies of I See and I Count are in the Purdy-Kresge Library, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI.
“BessBooks are reminiscent of the magic that books brought to my own childhood. Delightful to the touch, appealing to the eye, and written with a beautiful rhythm of language, BessBooks are developmentally spot-on for the young child. They will become a keepsake to be passed down to the next generation.”
SAALFIELD PUBLISHING CO., Ohio, 1899-1977, was one of the largest publishers of children’s materials in the world. On the front cover, many of the books stated “Saalfield’s Muslin Books Ever Wear, Never Tear,” while the back covers included a short poem.
“All my other books are worn
And the leaves are badly torn.
But my muslin books I found
Were as good as newly bound.”
Continuing in that style, an ad for Saalfield’s muslin books stated,
“They may be washed
And the colors will not run.
A child can chew them
And have lots of fun.”
McLOUGHLIN BROS. PUBLISHING CO., New York, 1828-1920, innovated color printing techniques to allow for the mass production of books which often contained barely disguised advertisements within the stories and illustrations for toys and games they also sold.
P F VOLLAND CO. publishing house of children’s books was opened by Samuel Lowe in 1940 in Wisconsin, USA after resigning as president of Whitman Publishing.