Do You Remember Your First?

Is having too many dog books even a thing? 

With all due respect to Kindles, Nooks, and the like,  give us the feel and smell of an actual book any day.

On our “wish list” of books that we’d like to own, but are unlikely to find, let alone afford, are the first edition copies of the following books:

Edwards Jesse’s Anecdotes of Dogs includes twenty engravings (mostly by the 19th century artist, W.R. Smith) that give us an insight into the exact representations of breeds as they were when the book was published – 1846. The publication is the last dog book to have been illustrated by copper or steel engravings making this one highly collectable.

Historically important is Cynographia Britannica illustrated by Sydenham Edwards, thirty-two years old when his watercolors made the Britannica the first dog book to be illustrated with hand-colored plates. Created about seventy years before the founding of British Kennel Club,  the images are important for revealing what the predecessors of our modern-day breeds looked like. The book was never finished and covered only 23 breeds, but it is still highly sought after. Copies of Cynographia Britannica are extremely rare, and few libraries carry a copy (McGill Library in Canada is said to be one).

dog book

As of ten years ago, Walter Hutchinson’s 2,000 page Dog Encyclopedia was the longest work on dog breeds ever published (the entry for the Bulldog alone was 32 pages long, while the Chow Chow got 19 pages). It’s not impossible to find, but might be pricey.

The last of the 19th century books on dog breeds from a Victorian voice is Wesley Mills’ The Dog Book, while the first to study the pedigree show dog in Australia is The Dog in Australasia by Walter Beilby. And then there is Henry Webb’s Dogs: Their Points, Whims, Instincts and Peculiarities from 1872, the first reference book on dogs to illustrate the different breeds with photographs.

Such rare and valuable dog books are unlikely to ever show up in our bookcase, a pity for anyone who have a weak spot for dog books. Didn’t a lot of us (raising our own hand, here) start falling in love with dogs through a book, often a children’s book? We still have our first: The Big Book of Dogs first published by Grosset and Dunlap in 1952. Oh, the hours we spent looking at this book!  We noticed that occasionally, one can still find this old gem on Ebay.

A wonderful source for more children’s books is the on-line site, Old Children’s Books, and for children’s dog books in particular, click here . What a great way to introduce two of nature’s best pairings: kids and dogs.

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