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   The Little Golden Books  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1940s       1950s       1960s       1970s        1980s        1990s 

Here is a sampling of the titles from my collection, my own visual history of these little treasures and their wonderful illustrations. It is only a fraction of the total published over the last seven decades. I hope to be adding to them over time. Enjoy your stroll through the pages and the memories we all share of The Little Golden Books.-- Kathy


First, A Bit of History . . .

The first 12 Little Golden Books were published in October, 1942. They sold for just
25 cents in department stores, supermarkets, and drugstores. They were bright, colorful, inexpensive, and a size that children could handle. The books were an instant success. Millions of mothers bought them, especially to occupy their young children while they were shopping, and many titles were in their 3rd printing within a few months. By 1945, most were in their 7th printing. Many other titles and varied editions followed, and the Golden Books went on to become the most successful mass-market children's books ever.

At the time, many books for children were big, hard to handle, and sold for $2-$3 (about $28-$42 in today's  market). The 25 cents was about the equivalent of $3.47 today, and much more affordable. The price remained at 25 cents for 20 years. Eventually it slowly rose . . . to 29 cents (1962), 39 cents (1968), 49 cents (1974), 59 cents (1977), 69 cents (1979), 89 cents (1982), and 99 cents (1986). Today they are still a bargain at $3.99.

There were many variations and changes made to individual Golden Book titles through the years. The early printings of the first 35 titles were published with blue spines, most with dust jackets, before switching to the gold paper spine and later the gold foil spine.
In time, the number of pages decreased. Sometimes covers changed, while interiors remained the same. Other times a new edition was produced with a different illustrator. Or perhaps small changes were made, such as the font on the cover. 

Until 1971, the books were numbered from 1 to 600. However, they were not necessarily published in numerical order.  The Disney titles were numbered separately, from D1 to D140.  The Activity Books Series was published from 1955-1963. They were numbered from A1-A52. They included an activity such as stamps that could be stuck on the pages of the story. The Eager Reader Series were published from 1974-1975 and had a solid gold spine. They were numbered from 800-809. In 1989, the Little Golden Book Land Series was released. Eight books were planned, but only six were released. They were numbered GBL 370-374, and 377.

Also, on November 24, 1952, NBC Television began a children's program called Ding Dong School, hosted by Dr Frances Horwich. In July, 1953, Rand McNally  began publishing the Ding Dong School Book series. The books, numbered 200-225,  had the same format as the Little Golden Books, except the foil on the spine was silver. The show went off the air in 1956. Concerned about the quality of children's programs, Dr. Horwich was able to get the show brought back in 1959. From 1959 to 1960, Golden Books rereleased some of the original Ding Dong School Books. They had the golden spine and were numbered DIN1-DIN8. I am including my Ding Dong School Books in with my Golden Books.

It can be tricky to determine the exact printing or edition of one of the Little Golden Books. I have used two resources to help:
        Tomartís Price Guide to Golden Book Collectibles by Rebecca Gleason
        Collecting Little Golden Books: A Collectorís Identification and Price Guide  
                 (4th Edition) by Steve Santi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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