Monday, July 02, 2012

Jack of All Trades

This rather rare children's book of poetry and lithographic illustrations relating to various kinds of employment - some quite unusual - was first published in Fleet St in London in 1900. Text by JJ Bell. Illustrations by C Robinson.

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (rotated + cropped) a

Jack of All Trades - Title Page

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (phrenologist) (cropped)
The Phrenologist
Little Johannes jumped over his bed,
Little Johannes arrived on his head.
Oh, what a thump!
Oh, what a bump!
Big as a plum, and nearly as red!

"Call the phrenologist!" somebody said.

The great man came! Oh, wasn't he wise,
With a pair of blue spectacles over his eyes?

He felt the boy's head with finger and thumb:
he stopped at the bump, and remarked, "Ha, Hum!"
Oh, wasn't he wise?
He said that Johannes -if nothing went wrong-
Would likely do something before very long!

And this is the end of my beautiful song.
But, wasn't he wise?

bitonal lithographic caricature of crying bookseller
The Bookseller
Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you weep?
Because I must sell my books far too cheap.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you grin?
Because an old lady is just coming in.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why all this joy?
Because she requires a nice book for a boy.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why do you cough?
Ahem! Well, the discount forgot to come off.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why are you gay?
Beause it's my best of business to-day.

Bookseller, Bookseller, why are you mad?
Because the half-sovereign I changed her is bad.

colour book illustration of fully-laden station porter
The Railway Porter
Porter, Porter, do not lag-
Take this heavy Gladstone-bag,
Take this big portmanteau, and
Take this bird-cage in your hand-
(Mind the bird!)- and, wait a minute,
Take this case with china in it-
(Do be careful!)- and. I say,
Take these parcels-yes, but stay-
Take yon gun-case painted yellow,
With the golf-clubs and the umbrello!

Just three seconds now remain-
We must run to catch the train.

Thank you, Porter for your trouble,
I must really tip you double ...
Here's a penny!

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (hosier) (cropped)
The Hosier
The Hosier sells me a pair of new hose
To wear when I go out a-biking,
And the hosier tells me--and surely he knows--
The effect will be lovely and striking.

I have asked our kind artist to sketch for this book
Myself and my bike and my hose.
You may not like the page at the very first look--
But, believe me, the charm of it grows!

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (shoemaker) (cropped)
The Shoemaker
I called upon the Shoemaker,
To buy a pair of pumps.
"I want them nice and strong," said I;
"I live in Glasgow, where the sky
"Sends down the rain in lumps."

The shoemaker, he tweaked his chin,
And seemed to think a few.
At last he said: "Good, Sir, I fear
"You'll have to get an engineer
"To make those pumps for you."

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (tobacconist) (cropped)
The Tobacconist
All day these two bad boys were missed--
They'd been to the Tobacconist!
Of cigarettes they smoked a lot,
And now they wish that they had not.

How sad they make their mother look!
How coud they so displease her?
Behold the pale-faced Ebenezer!

Their Pa puts down his Kipling book,
To each says, "Follow me, Sir!"
Exit the moaning Habakkuk,
The groaning Ebenezer!

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (cyclist) (cropped)
The Cyclist
I'd rather be a cyclist
Than any other beast.
For tho' he slays he never stays
Upon the slain to feast.

It's pleasant to remember,
While lying on the stones,
How, tho' you're dead, you needn't dread
That he will pick your bones.

He comes! You fall!! He's gone! - that's all!!
He doesn't mind the least.
Oh! I'd rather be a cyclist
Than any other beast!

caricature lithographic book illustration of a photographer
The Photographer
The man who takes my photograph,
Tries very hard to make me laugh-
The naughty man! he makes me sad.
He taps his box, and says: "My dear,
"I've got a little bird in here!"
Oh, such a fib is awful bad!

He says, if I look nice and gay,
The little bird will come my way
In less than half-a-minute.
I know quite well, although he knocks
And whistles at his likeness box,
There's not a dicky in it.

Below a cloth he hides his head-
(He's sorry for the things he's said,
The naughty man! to make me laugh.)
But when he's feeling good again,
He comes all smiling from his den,
And squirts a funny ball, and then-
Why, then he's got my photograph!

illustration of trade worker (UK = turncock)
The Turncock*
The Turncock thinks he is a Toff!
He turns the water on and off.
But should he have a nice tall hat
For such a little thing as that?
Indeed, I think it would be well
If Turncocks were not quite so swell.
A plain cloth cap at eighteenpence
Would save the city some expense-
And I, who only wear a pot,
Would be contented with my lot.

[*I hope your Papa is not a Turncock]

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (poet) (cropped)
The Poet
The poet is poor, as a rule,
And frequently suffers from hunger.
If you feel you could write sweet poems all night,
I think it's a sign
That you ought to confine
Your attention to some-
Thing great and become--
Well, say, a Fishmonger.

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (plumber) (cropped)
The Plumber
Oh, Mister Plumber, do you know
Where naughty, careless, tradesman go?

You come to set the water right--
To make the taps all safe and tight.

You came to us at half-past nine;
At two you went away to dine.

You came again just after three;
At five you toddled home for tea.

You did some work, I must confess:
Our house was in a dreadful mess.

You sent us in your little bill--
Although the taps are leaking still.

Oh, Mister Plumber, do you know
Where naughty, careless tradesmen go?

20th century caricature lithographic illustration called 'artist'
There are two kinds of Artists,
And each has got an aim:
The one he paints for pennies,
The other -- does the same.

Jack of All Trades 1900 by JJ Bell + illustr. by C. Robinson (cropped)
Jack of All Trades - Frontispiece

All of the images here have been auto-colour balanced (something I don't usually do). That made quite a significant change to the appearance of the illustrations and, needless to say, I - and a few others I showed - believe it was for the better. The lithographs have been cropped from the full page layout and I'll add the original double page poem-and-illustration scans to flickr (and put a [the] link [is now] ::HERE::) in a day or so.

Categorised as juvenile fiction, 'Jack of all Trades', by JJ Bell & Chas Robinson, was published by John Lane in London in 1900. The sixty four page book, with oatmeal cover^, contains some thirty lithographs, most bi-tonal. In passing, I noted a copy (2nd Ed.) sold for £450 a few years ago, so it has some traction in the market place.

Chas (Charles) Robinson (1870-1937) was the elder brother of illustrator, W Heath Robinson, famous for his elaborate and wacky machine cartoons*. Chas attended Highbury School of Art and also apprenticed as a printer. He left a solid and versatile body of work from his forty-odd year career (see: Books + Writers list & Wikipedia).

Journalist and author, JJ (John Joy) Bell (1871-1834), was best known for his Wee MacGreegor series [PGA], a collection of humorous observations of Glasgow life that began as periodic newspaper articles. The appeal wasn't sustained. "His tendency to depict winsome characters and sentimental plot lines was [..] out of step with the darker realism of the inter-war "Glasgow School" of writing. However, Bell's nostalgic but wryly-humorous autobiographical work of the early 1930s restored his popularity." [see: The Glasgow Story: 1 & 2]

The book images appear here thanks to Shelly Cohen and Tanya Schramm. (Shelly kindly made contact and scanned the book and Tanya has owned the book all her life) THANK YOU!


Unknown said...

That is superb. I have passed the link on to 2 usenet groups of which I am a member.
Some things never change, though. The Plumber is as relevant today as it was then.

Thank you

Unknown said...

My father in law is a retired plumber and he will love this.

RahneFan said...

Look at the gem hidden in this thing:

"There are two kinds of Artists,
And each has got an aim:
The one he paints for pennies,
The other -- does the same."


Morgen M said...

I've seen this book but don't remember reading it. I'll have to look for a copy to read. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

oh thank you very much. It is so beautiful: only two colors per print. How rich the work is.

Richard Scarry's Busytown came up in the zeitung zeitgeist and some friends were not familiar with his work. (In this article:

Good to know where to go to see what a Shoemaker was and to learn what a Turncock is!

artpaw said...

Thank you. I love both the little poems and the artwork. My husband is a printer by day and a poet by night ...I will enjoy sharing this with him.

Staci Finch Thompson said...

What a treat - I enjoyed these immensely. And I had to laugh when I saw the earlier comment re: the plumber - I shared this out on Google+ with the comment "some things never change" and quoted the plumber ditty in the intro. Thanks so much for this one.

Unknown said...

This is super! If you have more old children's stuff like this, please share!

Binka said...

Love it! Thank you for sharing this one. The drawings are so "liquid" and emotional; I am examining them!

Josh said...

Both the illustrations and the poems have wonderfully twisted Shel Silverstein quality. The scan on flickr is great, but I hope it makes it to or google as a free eBook someday, since it's out of copyright.

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