When I was a child, we used to go to visit my Grandparents in the Victorian country town of Ballarat. They still lived in the same house in which my father had grown-up . Even after twenty years away from home, his bedroom still contained numerous childhood items, including an early edition of the Australian children’s publication Cole’s Funny Picture Book. Both my elder brother and I adored its quirky pictures, poems, puzzles and funny facts. With lands such as Naughtiness Land, Game Land, Santa Claus Land, Bunny Land, Doggy Land, Boy Land and Girl Land amongst many others, we would be amused for hours.
If you search through the World you will not get a book that will so please a child, if you pay £100 or even £1000 for it. To parents, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, and Friends—Every Good Child should be given one of these Books for being Good. Every Bad Child should be given one to try to make it Good.
First published in 1879 Cole’s Funny Picture Book, was launched with great publicity on Christmas Eve, and was subsequently, a big success . It was still popular with children in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, and has had many revival reprints since then.
The above photo, of a man I have named Mr Topsy, so reminded me of one of my favourite parts of one of the three books in the series, that I had to buy it. In Game Land there was a section of picture puzzles that included skillful illustrations in which were hidden various people or objects for which one had to search. There were also topsy-turvy pictures like the one below, which showed a different person when viewed upside down.
Mr Topsy is the image of one of the illustrations I remember and loved so well. Despite searching long and hard to find an online copy of the drawing, (the books have long since disappeared), I was unsuccessful. Even without the picture, maybe you can see in his lined forehead, large eyes, jowly cheeks and rounded face how he could be transformed into one of these ingenious upside down characters?