Presented as a historical and cultural artifact, this seldom-found, vintage, 1942, Ten Little Colored Boys book illustrated by Emery I. Gondor and published by Howell, Soskin Publishers, New York, is in very fine condition.
Measuring 10.75 inches wide x 8.25 inches long, the book has seen extremely gentle use as evidenced by the near perfect condition of the little boys' heads which, while providing visual interest, are primarily present to allow easy turning of each page. Given this purpose, it is quite remarkable that only the last three heads have prominent creasing with one of the three also showing a half inch vertical tear at the top on the head (no missing pieces). Front and back covers are constructed of heavy cardboard, the pages of heavier stock paper. Both the front and back boards evidence minor corner and edge wear along with minor soiling from handling. The front cover has a tiny 1/4 inch long tear at the binding, about 1 1/2 inches down from the top of the book.
The book retains its brilliant, bright, crayon-box-like colors. The book has ten pages with alternating color and black and white illustrations as noted in photos. I did not have sufficient space to post photos of all pages, but those present are representative of overall condition. Pages evidence some minor of age-discoloration, soiling and/or foxing, but all pages are free of rips and creases. The binding is tight and the book retains its original, red, binding spiral.
Originally published in 1868 under the Title of “The Ten Little Indians,” this poem was used during minstrel shows, which oftentimes were traveling acts, performed by white actors in blackface following the Civil War. The following year, the poem was adapted to this overtly horrid, racist rendition, replacing the word Indians with “Nigger” in both minstrel shows, printed sheet music, and children’s nursery rhyme books. This version married the stereotypes of violence and ignorance within the African-American population with the intent of "villain-izing" freed black males while simultaneously allowing violent acts to befall the black characters portrayed in the rhyme.
This 1942 version having changed the derogatory term nigger to that of colored (equally derogatory), also depicts a somewhat tempered portrayal of the violence befalling the characters as compared to earlier versions of the rhyme.
Ten little colored boys sitting in a line; one slid off the roof, then there were nine.
Nine little colored boys fished with worms for bait; one fell in the river, then there were eight.
Eight little colored boys flying up to heaven; one tried to parachute, then there were seven.
Seven little colored boys doing circus tricks; one teased an elephant, then there were six.
Six little colored boys found honey in a hive; one tried to pet a bee, then there were five.
Five little colored boys heard a lion roar; One didn't run in time, then there were four.
Four little colored boys started out to ski; One hit a snowman, then there were three.
Three little colored boys cooked some chicken stew; One ate the pot-ful, then there were two.
Two little colored boys playing with a gun; Thought it wasn't loaded, then there was one.
One little colored boy thought it would be fun to settle down and marry, then there was none.
He had a family of colored boys and then, before very long, there were ten of them again.