E. W. Cole
Back to title page

     

Edward William Cole, was a most fascinating and extraordinary man. Muir (1982, p. 24), describes him as, 'a bookseller, publisher and advertising genius' and one needs only to browse through any one of his books to see why. Each book contains an unbelievable array of pictures, stories, poems, jokes, inventions, puzzles and lots of utter nonsense, all mixed up with some very profound messages! The books' unusual nature is touched upon by Saxby, 'because it is impossible to fit this miscellany of philosophy and humour into any other category, it might be best be considered here after the family story, for it is a book which, for many years has brought delight for many an Australina family' (1969, p.63).

Children and adults alike are intrigued by the contents of his books and one can spend literally hours pouring over them - even nowadays, let alone then, when the majority of families would have had little or no children's reading material at all. The books would usually arrive on the shelves, just in time for Christmas and would have made for hours and hours of delight. Whilst literary merit and quality were not high on Cole's agenda, providing the whole family with fun and entertainment were. He also used his books to promote (or was that preach!?!) a healthy and unified way of life for everyone and although such messages are rather blatant, they are surprisingly 'modern' and must have been quite shocking in those days. In fact Cole was considered a crank by many no doubt! However, many of his messages offer extremely valuable advice, for instance, in all of his books he encouraged children to eat healthily and exercise

And yes, on the surface they are of course racist etc, such was the times, but if one chooses to look a little deeper, E. W. Cole was far from racist or classist and instead preached a much deeper message. His books were produced extremely cheaply, for two reasons, not only to make more money, but to enable his books to be available and affordable for everyone. 18p my Cole's Funny Picture Book No. 2 cost and others were even cheaper still. Cole was a unique man that seemed to embrace everyone in these extraordinary books of his and the fact that the Funny Piture Books 1, 2 and 3 went to over 70 print runs and can still be bought today, show just what a success they were. And these were just the tip of the iceberg! The list below shows the huge amount of material he produced and the number of subjects he wrote about, although few of the dates are accurate.

     

Cole's Books for Children
The following list is as accurate as possible but many books do not contain a date of publication.
and no doubt there are many more I missed!!

1879, Cole's Funny Picture Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (no copies have been found)
1882, Cole's Funny Picture Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (rep. 1883 - priced at 18p)
(Date Unknown) Cole's Funny Picture Book No. 1, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (Over 70 editions were published with sales totalling 900, 000)
1905, Cole's Funny Picture Book No. 2, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (69 editions produced)
(Date Unknown) Cole's Child Land or Pleasing Poems for Pretty Pets - Available with 18 booklets sold at threepence and included - Baby Land, Mama Land, Boy Land, Naughtiness Land, Dolly Land (A kindergarten book with pictures and poems) etc, Cole (Pleasant Learning Land - No. 1 the Book Arcade), Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Comic Animal Story Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (no Australian content)
1908, Cole's Kindergarten - First Book for Little Australians - 'With bright pictures and easy lessons', Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (no Australian content)
(Date Unknown) Cole's Kindergarten Fairy Tales, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (no Australian content)
(Date Unknown) Cole's Kindergarten Poetry Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (no Australian content)
(Date Unknown) Cole's Fun and Frolic For Tiny Tots, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (no Australian content)
c.1911, Cole's Rosebud Story Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (no Australian content)
c.1913, Cole's Merry Go Round Story Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
1913, Cole's Chummy Book for Little Australians, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
1913, Cole's Empire Picture Annual, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
c.1916, Cole's Peep Show Story Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Jingle Jungle Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Jolly Book for Little Australians, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Jolly Workers Book for LIttle Australians, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
c.1920, A Railway Book for Little Australians, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (edited by Lilllian Pyke)
1920, Cole's Happy Time Picture and Nursery Rhyme Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (edited by Lilllian Pyke)
1921, Cole's Merry Bird and Animal Picture Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
c.1921, Cole's Happy Time Picture and Nursery Rhyme Book No. 2, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (edited by Lillian Pyke)
c.1921, Cole's Little Book of Riddles and Jokes, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
c.1929, Cole's Holiday Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic. (edited by Lilllian Pyke)
(Date Unknown) Cole's ABC and Other Joys for Little Australian Girls and Boys - 8 booklets including - 1,2,3, Playtime, Funny Things, Little Ones, Trains, etc, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
c.1919, Cole's Animal Picture Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Nursery Rhyme Stories, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Great Book for Boys, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Funny ABC Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Noisy Picture Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Noisy Picture Book No.2, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Great Book for Boys No.2, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Great Girls Book, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Funny Drawings, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Intellect Sharpener, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Fun Doctor - 'For all the family', Cole, Melbourne, Vic.
(Date Unknown) Cole's Little Giggly Puzzles, Cole, Melbourne, Vic.

     
Back to title page