Beautiful CPSIA Book Post

over on Love2Learn Mom– it’s lovely, and there are several helpful links as well.

These are the members of the House Committee where H.R. 968, the House Version of the CPSIA reform bill, is currently being held. Please contact them. I am hearing several people saying that obviously this bill is so bad it has to get fixed. But this is the Committee that the bill came out of in the first place, and they have no incentive to change things if voters aren’t calling them and letting them know they aren’t happy with the bill as it is. It’s not going to be fixed without your help.

Keep in mind this message from the CPSC:

“Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers should also be aware that CPSC will:

Not impose penalties against anyone for making, importing, distributing, or selling


an ordinary children’s book printed after 1985

Below you will see a few more dangerous, pre-1985 books- these are books I purchased a couple years ago at an astonishing library booksale. The library hadn’t had a booksale in their entire 100 year history- everything they’d ever owned was still on their shelves. They sold books for 1.00 or less. The CPSIA makes such transactions illegal. Many libraries are going to simply ignore the law, but that doesn’t make this a good law. Already, many thrift shops and bookstores are setting aside or throwing out older books. I removed my listings from Amazons. The law left as it is inhibits the free trade of used books and encourages contempt for Law itself.

Many will look at this list and say, “But surely those could be sold as vintage books, not intended for children, they would not have to be thrown away.” And yes, many of these books could be sold as vintage books, but not all– look again at what the CPSC says about vintage books:

Guidelines from the CPSC on vintage books (emphasis mine):

Question 17: Can I sell vintage children’s books and other children’s products that are collectibles?

Yes. Used vintage children’s books and other children’s products sold as collector’s items would not be primarily intended for children. Because of their value and age, they would not be expected to be used by children. Therefore, they do not fall into the definition of children’s product and do not need to comply with
the lead limits.


Most of these books actually cost less than a brand-new hardback, and most of them would be used by children. Furthermore, if the library or bookseller has to ‘sequester’ these books in the ‘vintage’ section and price them accordingly, I can’t afford to buy them. If they can’t sell them, most libraries and booksellers aren’t going to keep their discards around in some ‘sequestered’ space- they don’t have the space.

Here are some of the books that I believe the CPSIA now prohibits for sale by the use of children:

When they Were Children, by Amy Steedman, Illustrated by J. R. Skelton, undated, but the library acquired it in 1929. This is a collection of short biographies of famous men and women.

Mystery at the Red House, by Cornelia Meigs (not pictured), which, disappointingly, turned out to be in terrible condition inside, making it neither collectible or vintage- merely a reading copy.

Flag of our Hearts, a book of Patriotic stories by Montgomery Major. Published in 1927

I picked up a nice 1926 hardback of Just So Stories , green with gilt lettering, quite pretty, and with every intention of using it for children under 12.

Heroes of Progress, by Eva March Tappan, blue hardback, 1921, also not pictured here. It’s a pretty, dark blue hardback with a pictorial cover. You can read more about her here at the marvelous Baldwin Project.

I picked up two dozen hardback copies of Childhood of Famous American books- less than a dollar each, not in good enough condition to be ‘collector’s items’ (and most genuine book collectors disdain books with library markings on them, considering them not collectible at all). These are very popular with homeschoolers. Some of them have been reprinted in paperback editions, but the paperbacks new cost less than the old orange or blue hardbacks I purchased at this sale (and which my youngest two children devoured, although not in a literal, raising of the lead in the blood levels, fashion).

Naturally, I picked up more than one Mother Goose book, and what collector of nursery rhymes could resist a title like this one:
A Book of Nursery Rhymes: Being Mother Goose’s Melodies Arranged in Order of Attractiveness and Interest by Charles Welsh?

And what is not to love about this 1901 illustration of a modern mother and her infant?
This may be old enough and rare enough that I could honestly call it a ‘vintage’ or antique book- but could the library sell it to me for less than a dollar? Would it be worth their time to find out? What gives the Federal Government the right to meddle with this transaction, anyway?

Operas Every Child should Know, by Dolores Bacon, 1911, beautiful condition and a beautiful colored frontispiece as well.

The Pool of Stars by Cornelia Meigs, 1926, Meigs authored Invincible Louisa and Wild Geese Flying, two books we enjoy, so I picked this up primarily because of the name recognition.

I almost put this book back down, because (if you click on the picture to enlarge) as you can see, the pages are quite soiled, and several of them have small tears down inside near the binding, and the binding is a bit loose (but it’s a very pretty red, and I do like red), but then I made the mistake of looking at those glowing color plates and thought the book should be given another chance at life. It is, as I said, a red book, very deep red. This means it is probably more likely to have lead in it than not. It has black lettering and decorations on the cover, very striking. It has 69 pages and is illustrated in color and in b/w with great pictures and drawings, this old story of Rip Van Winkle, by Washington Irving. Edna Cooke did the colour illustrations. I’m not familiar with her, but I’ll watch for her work in future, if, indeed, there is a future for her work. Here’s a page with some samples. And here’s a page with a mouthwateringly lovely illustration of a ‘domestic scene in a Dutch kitchen. ‘

This illustration is from a children’s science book from the 20s or 30s. – Unfortunately, I can’t recall the title (the illustration was in my hard-drive), but I do remember the book is a children’s elementary science book, and all the pictures are this brilliantly hued, and its resale value is so small I have debated taking out the pictures and framing them. I just haven’t been able to bring myself to do this.

Biography of an Ant, by Alice Hopf, a living science book with lovely drawings, interesting text explaining the life cycle of an ant through one of them, an ant named Rufa. This is out of print, as are many of Hopf’s science titles. It was published in the 70s, and is neither old enough nor vaulable enough, speaking strictly monetarily, to be considered a collectible, or vintage book.

Einar the Viking– part of the Children of Other Times series- this is a hardback published in the 60s. It is neither old enough nor pricey enough, nor unusual enough to be used as other than a book for children 12 and under. This is a great series for children, and it is unbelievable that Congress made it illegal to sell these unless you pay for expensive third party lead testing first- and you’d need to own several copies, since the testing destroys the item. You can’t read a pile of goo.

I picked up several volumes of something called The Poetry Book, by Miriam Blanton Huber, Herbert Bruner and Charles Madison Curry, illustrated (in what looks like woodcuts) by Charles Madison Curry, 1926. This was a series, one for each grade, in grades 2-9. So I have The Poetry Book 2; The Poetry Book 3; and so forth. The majority of copies at Alibris are around 3-5 dollars. My rule of thumb for prices from alibris is that if I cut the price in half, that’s about what I would expect to ask for any books I sell. This means these books hardly rate as books which, by virtue of their value, are not expected to be used by children.

This gem, however, yes- I could easily, honestly, and without fear of legal challenge, call it a vintage collectible, even an antique. But could the library have sold it for a dollar? I don’t know.

Shakespeare The Boy, by William J. Rolfe, was one of the best finds at that old library booksale- as I wrote at the time, it came:

with an inscription in it by the previous owner (I presume she donated it), dated 1897, and, my dears, it was checked out from the library one time. Look at the lovely, still glittering, gilded decorations.
Click on the picture and enlarge it.
Don’t you just want to run your fingers over that smooth gold shield and feel those sparkling silver letters beneath it? It’s all embossed, you know, so there’s a marvelous texture. You know you want to touch it.

I just did it for you.

Oooh, there. I did it again. Shameless, I’m just shameless. =)

Funny, wasn’t I? Well, once upon a time we used to say things like ‘Touching this book is so much fun it ought to be illegal.’ Well, thanks to Congress and the CPSIA, it now is illegal to sell a lovely book like this to a child or for the use of a child.
Addtional reading:

Here’s another post on books that will no longer be legal to sell.

Science titles are a serious problem– they go out of print almost immediately and are seldom republished. Consider this list of books recommended for elementary schools studying insects, and see how many of them have illegal pre-1985 publication dates.

Walter Olson continues his stellar coverage
of the law with another post on books.

My dear friend Mama Squirrel at Dewey’s Treehouse is frustrated with recent media coverage of the CPSIA and she finds it very discouraging. So do I. Over on Etsy one person dismissing the problems with the law included in her airy ‘whatever’ post a comment to the effect of, “When was the last time you saw a kid reading a book published in the fifties, anyway?”
This is a daily occurrence at my house. I die a little inside every time I am reminded it’s not true for others.

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