The Dartons

Jill Shefrin -

The Dartons: Publishers of Educational Aids, Pastimes & Juvenile Ephemera, 1787-1876. A Bibliographic Checklist. Together with a description of the Darton Archive as held by the Cotsen Children’s Library, Princeton University Library & a brief history of printed teaching aids

The Dartons
Cotsen Occasional Press, 2009.
Available for purchase at

Winner of the Justin G. Schiller Prize (Bibliographical Society of America) & the F.J. Harvey Darton Award (Children’s Books History Society).

Also nominated for the International Bibliographical Prize (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers), the Anne Bloomfield Book Prize (History of Education Society, UK) & the De Long Book History Book Prize (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading & Publishing). Research for this project funded by the Cotsen Family Foundation.

“This is an important & fascinating work… Jill Shefrin already has a reputation for original research & meticulous scholarship. In this marvelous volume she has given us more, providing evidence for a previously unrecorded market in nineteenth-century teaching aids for both home education & schools. She has brought together over 2,200 teaching aids produced by the two Darton firms of booksellers between 1787 & 1876. Her detailed checklist includes table games, dissected puzzles, alphabet pastimes, writing sheets, &, especially, prints & maps for the infant school market. I myself had no idea that such a variety of teaching aids was available, & this book has made me aware of what fun it must have been to be taught the rudiments of education in the past.”
—Iona Opie

“Jill Shefrin has gathered together an extraordinary assemblage of the ephemera of British childhood covering nearly a hundred years from the late eighteenth century to the high Victorian era & in so doing will surely change our perceptions of that childhood itself.… The Dartons will become essential reading for all historians of childhood & publishing between the 1780s & the 1870s.”
—Clive Hurst, Head of Rare Books & Printed Ephemera (retired)
Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 105 (2011)

“This sumptuous book is at once pioneering & definitive.… Considering the present book & its predecessor, Lawrence Darton’s The Dartons, my advice to anyone else considering writing about the nineteenth century output of the Darton family is to find another subject.… I already consider the book indispensible &… it is beautifully printed, gorgeously illustrated, & altogether a rare pleasure to behold.”
—Stuart Bennett, Antiquarian bookseller

“a quite staggering feat of scholarship… The checklist, which constitutes the bulk of the volume, is superbly detailed and meticulously organized. …Shefrin’s work will be of immense value for very many areas of scholarly enquiry: the history of education, publishing history, the development of alphabet books, social history, religious attitudes in general and Quaker connexions in particular, the expansion of knowledge in the nineteenth century and the history of leisure. It is a stupendous achievement.”
—David Blamires, F.J. Harvey Darton Award Committee, Children’s Books History Society

Darton Addenda

Sample Pages

The Dartons pp32-33 The Dartons pp40-41
TheDartons pp 308-309 TheDartonsPp392-393Thumbnail