Illustrations of shops and shopping pull me in like a magnet. Historical ones. New ones. I like them in a book especially.
The Ladybird book Shopping with Mother was opened here previously. It was one of my favorite books as a child. It still is. And other books have since followed like the cheap (and questionably reproduced) version of High Street by Ravilious, as well as more learned tomes on the history of shops and shopping. And those local history gems, full of snapshots and postcards someone has collected up of local shops and street scenes. Like Going up Town: Shopping in Oldham.
My Book of Shops is a mathematics book, dressed up as a picture book, disguised as a book on shops. I love the cover. It shows Tom and Betty and Mack the dog arriving on the shopping scene. On their right a most intriguing looking toyshop offers up its wares, over there a teashop beckons. And everyone has a basket. But the more exciting page is The Stationer’s Shop with everything from satchels, purses and pencils to Gloy glue, best rubbers and paper labels similar to the ones I just wrote about on this very blog. And a rather handsome stationer behind the counter.
The book is written by the duo Hume, E.G. & Wheeler, E.C and has illustrations by Cicely Steed – who has a respectable back catalogue but on whom no information can be found by me. This is, apparently the 4th book in the Kingsway picture arithmetics series, authored by the two initial-loving authors. There was a My Book of Sums, My picture Book of Sums and a Second Book of Sums. Presumably by the 4th they had decided pictures and a story might liven up interest. It looks to be a 1950s book, perhaps a reprint. The book is quite specific in its instructions: ‘You must have a box of cardboard money to help you work out the bills. If you haven’t any cardboard money, you could easily make some out of brown paper, thin cardboard and silver paint.’
There is no doubt in my mind The Stationer’s Shop stocked all three.
Friends in high (book) places have helped to date this book a little better. In the above stationery shop image, to the left of the proprietor, is a distinctively-coloured set of books for 6d. Apparently these are likely to be Penguin books: fiction in orange, biographies in dark blue, drama in red and Pelicans in light blue. This dates the imagery (and at a push the book too) to between 1937 and 1942 when the price of said Pelicans crept up to 9d.