ABC Book of Early Americana

ABC Book of Early AmericanaABC Book of Early Americana: A Sketchbook of Antiquities and American Firsts

Submitter: Boring from A to Z.  Plus it smells like it came from early America.

Holly: It’s a keeper for historical collections, but your average public library can let it go – especially if it smells bad. Mold spreads, you know…


A is for Axe

Z is for Z-bridge



  1. I used to love the Eric Sloan books, but most kids (and their parents) refuse to believe anythink with black and while pictures could possibly be valid. (I guess that means all the snapshots from my childhood are not proof that I had a life.)

  2. Oh man, Eric Sloan? Please, PLEASE put it up for sale! I am on this like brown on rice!

      1. There’s a saying, “I’m on that like white on rice.” Only I like brown rice. So I changed it.

  3. I think I bought that book at a used book sale and cut some of the pictures out to frame…

  4. Not getting the specialness of axes, arm rests or apples. It’s not like they were unique to early Americana.

  5. I, too, grew up with Eric Sloane books, and have to concede that this book is a bit odd–rich material for the juvenile reader, but a bit too sophisticated for that market at the same time. But I started with books like this, and in later years I was hand-forging nails for a historic building restoration and consulting with county government on how to move and preserve two covered bridges.

    I would make the case that we need books like this to make American history approachable and interesting to those who think history started with Bill Clinton or “American Bandstand,” and you might be hard-pressed to find a worthy substitute in 2014. That said, yes, I can see why smell and lack of color would get this specific tome out of the shelves. And that’s sad, really. This is the kind of stuff the internet is abominable at teaching.

  6. Ro, I would agree that this specific book sacrifices depth of analysis for “ABC” format, but trust me when I say that Eric Sloane really could relate to the readers the importance of such things as apples (their varieties and uses, long before “heirloom apples” and “hard cider” became the “hot thing” among gourmets), axes (their different shapes and uses, and how someone could indeed go into the woods with nothing but an axe or two and build a house and barn), and far, far more.
    Children today in cities and suburbia have largely lost ALL exposure to such things as farm life, nature, and craftsmanship, with working with the hands, knowing where food comes from, etc. We are poorer as a country for it. Books like this–again, maybe not this specific book, but similar books–are part and parcel of reaching back to a “simpler” time, when people worked with and understood natural things and simple tools. I’m no Luddite or hippie, but I do believe that losing touch with those aspects of life make us literally uneducated and simple-minded.

  7. I’ll agree with most of the comments in favor of the book, but if it “smells like it came from early America” (cowshed? sugar factory? slave auction cells?) then the copy should be replaced, for sure.

  8. I really like these illustrations. I’m not sure about the “economy” of a zig-zag bridge, though? Seems like you’d use more material. I guess I’ll have to look into it. Anyway, I think this book is more charming for older readers–someone learning their ABC’s would, I imagine, need something a little more immediately stimulating than armrests and They might like the “zany,” though. I know I do.

    1. The zigzag bridge crosses the river perpendicular to the course of the river, but the road is at an angle to the river. Thus the expensive part, the bridge, is as short as possible.

      1. What’s remarkable is if someone builds a bridge that doesn’t go the shortest way from one side of a river to the other side. Glasgow in Scotland built one recently; I don’t know why. Maybe to do with the city’s one-way road system. Here it is

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