Playtime book by Bunty Crosbie


Shelf Appeal tries not to collect children’s books. For where would that end? Buckling shelves and a collecting headache, that’s where. But a few have snuck on to the shelf nevertheless. Books I’ve tripped over in charity shops, usually. As a search for children’s books on eBay just boggles the mind.

Playtime c1943 by Bunty Combie is a very pretty book. Lovely illustrations that accompany (so-so) poems which look to be by Bunty as well. Bunty Crombie is an unusual name. But she is rather elusive, despite that. She illustrated a few books around 1940 including The Strange Tale of Ebb and Flo and Billy Boy Goes Sailing. But digital provenance is missing.

There are quite a few women illustrators who popped up in the 1930s and 1940s for a few books and then disappeared. Bunty’s illustrations are those of a mature artist, someone who probably studied the craft and perhaps did jobbing illustration work somewhere. Maybe in an advertising agency. Often these women were married to other artists and art directors, gaining that difficult ‘in’ to publishing.

Playtime was published by the Sylvan Press. It is a nice big card covered book. The Sylvan Press published some lovely illustrated books, including Lewitt-Him’s The Footballers Revolt, of which Playtime is a very similar production. The press was based in South London at Henderson & Spalding Ltd printers. Their books often had a bit of the Père Castor going on – super nice illustrated French children’s books. I try not to collect those, either.




Oh but there are a lot worse things to collect – at least children’s books tend not to take up much room on a shelf. You might collect toby jugs, kitsch cruets, vintage pyrex, those little Disney Wade characters, or (like my son!) vinyl records and old cars. All take up much more room in a small house! Love that unusual blackground for the cover. Oh and there’s a very cheap Ebb & Flow copy on ebay….. no I mustn’t!!!

shelf appeal

No, you mustn’t. The black background is great isn’t it? I collected Whimsies when I was young, very similar to Wade characters. I think I got it out of my system then.


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