Question: Several years ago, I bought six Little Golden Books at a local thrift shop. All were published during the 1940s and all are in very good condition. I have listed the book titles and the year each was published. Thank you for any information you can provide about the books and their current values. N.S., Rio Grande
Answer: Little Golden Books was founded in 1942 at Raine, Wisconsin, as a partnership between New York publishing firm Simon and Schuster, the Artist’s and Writers Guild and Western Printing and Lithography Co.
Since children’s books were very expensive and not obtainable by the average household at that time, the new company’s owners, headed by Artist’s and Writers author and illustrator Georges Duplaix, established a firm specifically designed to make durable, affordable, high quality, low price books for children.
Little Golden Books’ first books with cheerful, vibrant pictures, child-friendly cardboard covers and gilt paper spines debuted in September, 1942. Eventually, editions featuring nursery rhymes, fairy tales, Bible stories, science and Christmas specials were marketed worldwide. As sales increased, the company searched for talented commercial artists and illustrators to portray the books’ original or fairy tale characters. Sold for 25 cents each, Little Golden Books were introduced at supermarkets in 1947.
Although there presently is a lucrative market for Little Golden Books first editions and rare formats, more common, available versions can be purchased for reasonable dollars. Your 1947 “Nursery Rhymes” and “Tootle Train” usually sell for $6 to $8 each. “Dumbo” brings $11 to $12 and “Uncle Remus” $14 to $15. A 1949 “The Night Before Christmas” is valued at $20 and “Little Black Sambo” recently fetched $80.00.
Question: I would appreciate information about a 12-inch-high clown puppet with strings given to my late mother when she was a child. Dressed in a vivid clown suit and pointed hat, it is in a yellow box marked “Pelham Puppet SM Clown.” Because my mother seldom was allowed to play with it, the clown is like new and complete with instructions. F.A., Strathmere
Answer: Your 1950’s-1960’s era marionette type puppet is the creation of Englishman Bob Pelham’s Wonky Toys Ltd. a company located at Marlborough, Wilshire, Britain, from 1947 to 1986. In 1948, the firm’s name was changed to Pelham Puppets and the factory eventually was enlarged and moved to other locations.
Bob Pelham (1919-1980) a World War II veteran, initially made small painted wooden toys from recycled materials. He later moved on to creating puppets and marionettes for children and soon expanded his creations to include a variety of hand, string, rod and glove puppets as well as ventriloquist dolls. By the early 1960’s, the company was producing more than 200,000 puppets a year, including a huge range representing licensed movie and TV characters.
Presently quite collectible, Pelham “SM” style puppets were made throughout the company’s life.
Collectors search for Pelham puppets and marionettes that have flawless head, hands and feet, no paint loss or fabric holes, rips and stains.
Recently, a Pelham clown puppet like the one you described sold for $372.00 in its original box.
Alyce Hand Benham is an antiques broker, appraiser and estate-liquidation specialist. Send questions to: Alyce Benham, Living section, The Press of Atlantic City, 1000 W. Washington Ave., Pleasantville, NJ 08232. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters may be used in future columns but cannot be answered individually, and photos cannot be returned.