Quarto, 4 volumes (c.205 x 160 mm. each), various bindings. With 67 woodcut county maps comprising 39 English counties, 8 Welsh, 15 Scottish and 10 Irish.
The Children’s Friend was first published in 1824 as a monthly magazine aimed at the moral probity of children. It appeared in two distinct series. It was originally founded in 1824 by William Carus Wilson (1791-1859), who is famously portrayed as Mr Brocklehurst in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, 1847. The series ran to 1860 and this new one published by Seeley, Jackson & Halliday ran from 1861 to 1930. Robert Benton Seeley (1798-1886) was born in London to a bookseller Leonard Benton Seeley. They came from a family or booksellers in Buckingham. The London firm established in 1784 acted as agents for the British and Foreign Bible Society. Robert joined his father as a child and took control in 1826. In 1827 he married Mary Anne Jackson (1809-68), whose brother John Henry Jackson became one of the partners in Seeley, Jackson and Halliday.
The firm was taken over by his son Richmond Seeley (1832-1913) in 1857. For reasons unknown, the firm took control of The Children’s Friend in 1861. Each issue consisted of sixteen pages and cost one penny. From March 1868 a series of county maps were published. They form part of a woodblock puzzle page with county map upper left. The remainder of the page is a combination of hieroglyphics and text to test the child’s abilities. Each is numbered in roman at the top of the page excepting the very first. The maps themselves contain little information. The first issued is that of Anglesea in March 1868. They followed monthly through December 1869 when none was issued. They appear in no apparent order and include those of Scotland and Ireland to. The number of issues without a map increases as time passes.
Northamptonshire was issued in November 1873 and up to the issue of December 1875 the set of English counties was lacking those of Oxford and Suffolk. The latter is found in April 1883, Oxford remains to be found. Some maps in the series bear the initials J. P. possibly indicating the engraver. They are yet to be identified. The solutions to the puzzles usually appear in the following month’s issue, but again, some have been found to be later still. Some counties were republished in another work entitled Early Days, 1883-86, others are from a newly engraved block. The firm ceased business in 1979 at which time it was the second oldest publishing house in Britain. This collection of volumes therefore contains 39 of the English counties, 8 Welsh, 15 Scottish and 10 Irish. Batton & Bennett (2010) 147; Brake, Demoor & Beetham (2009) pp. 111-12; Carroll (1996) 128; ODNB.