Nice, don’t you think? Mutual back-scratching

I wonder what the story is behind the following?

But first, a little background for you. Books, for a long time now, usually start with a “Title Page”. Duh. Usually on the right hand page, as you view it. This much you knew.

Until fairly recently, it was usual to have something “pretty” on the facing page, the left hand page. The “something pretty”. (I’ve shown a typical one at the bottom of this post.)

And now to the subject of this post…

In the 1750s two men published books attempting to teach mathematical topics. And the frontis in each of them? The title page of other!

Mr Potter’s book. (Above)
Mr. Hammond’s book

On the left, below, is a more typical frontis. Have you read the book? Much nicer than any mathematics text! I don’t know why Grahame isn’t remembered for this, Golden Age, as much as for Wind In the Willows.

Golden Age has elements for the child… and for any adult reading it to a child. Or “just” for his/ her pleasure.

It is a collection of related short stories. It opens with a “Prologue”. It is easily available online. (A page at

If you read it, be aware that Grahame had quite a nice early childhood, in Edinburgh, in a reasonably well-off “normal” family. Then, when Grahame was five, his mother died. Father couldn’t cope with the boy and three siblings, one just a baby. They were handed off to a granny… in Berkshire. 300 miles from Edinburgh. 1865.

You can read the Prologue online via the link. You can also read or download the whole book to your device from the same site.

My limited understanding is that the children were “well” cared for… as far as shelter and food went. But perhaps not given quite the love and affection good parents might have given. Anyway, it was 1865. Children generally didn’t have a wonderful time in that era.

It may be my romanticism, but I suspect that the stories in Golden Age are somewhat autobiographical. Whatever the truth of that may be, I think they are splendid. And that they convey much wisdom about the nature of children.

Example of typical frontis…