This hand-drawn children's alphabet book features delightful pen, ink and water colour drawings and was made in 1894 by 30-year-old William Harrison. (William went on to be an Art Director and later Advertising Manager for the Australian firm of Wunderlich, famous makers of terracotta roof tiles and stamped metal ceilings).
The ABC book was made for Harrison's young niece, Maggie Harrison, who lived near Bath in England. It includes a clever combination of British and Australian images such as drawings of a weather vane, robin, unicorn, ivy and Christmas pudding as well as a stockwhip, kangaroo, opossum (the correct name of a South American animal but sometimes mistakenly applied to the Australian possum), emu, and laughing jackass (kookaburra). While the subjects chosen for the ABC book illustrate the differences between Britain and Australia, many also represent their similarities and the close links between the two countries.
Many libraries and museums in this country hold numerous examples of published nineteenth century Australian and European children's literature, but there are few examples of more informal productions such as this one.
The ABC book provides an insight into the value placed on industry and learning in the nineteenth century, not only for the recipient of the book but also by its young illustrator and producer.
Curator, Science & Industry