Van Goor’s children’s books
VAN GOOR’S CHILDREN’S BOOKS
One of the best known publishers of children’s books in the 20th century was G.B. van Goor. Van Goor was especially known for illustrated children’s books. Through the years nearly all the respected children’s book illustrators have worked for this publishing house.
In the second half of the 20th century Van Goor was taken over by the Elsevier company. Van Goor’s complete archive of illustrations ended up at Elsevier, which put it at the disposal of the Museum Meermanno in 1982.
Van Goor’s illustration archive comprises dozens of metres of archive boxes, containing thousands of original drawings by hundreds of illustrators. You need merely to open a box at random to reveal a treasure. For instance, in one of the portfolios you will find the original drawings made by Nans van Leeuwen (1900-1995) in 1938 for a book by Emmy Vosma entitled Hoe Els in wonderland kwam [How Alice arrived in Wonderland], a title clearly inspired by Alice in Wonderland.
Not only are these drawings beautiful, they also occasionally contain useful historical information. For instance, in the first illustration we see two boys standing open-mouthed in the doorway of a sweetshop. Their faces are blackened and in their hands they are holding a pot. The girls in the shop listen attentively. What are those boys doing?
On page 13 we find the answer: ‘Clasped in their left arm they had a flowerpot over which a pig’s bladder was tightly stretched. Through a tiny hole that had been made in the pig’s bladder, they moved a straw up and down, which caused a peculiar buzzing sound. You could clearly hear foeke-foeke-foeke. This was the music accompanying the traditional carnival songs.’
So what we see here is an illustration of an object known as a foekepot or rommelpot [rumbling pot] – once used in a children’s ritual that has now disappeared.