Sunday, January 27, 2008

D.C. Heath & Company

Mickey Never Fails. 1939. 102 pages.
The cover illustration still features the older style Mickey.

Reading, writing and arithmetic: the foundations of education. Almost every North American is familiar with the early Dick and Jane series of primary readers. But, how many are familiar with the line of educational books published for Walt Disney in the late 1930s and early 1940s?

Donald Duck and His Friends. 1940. 66 pages.

D.C. Heath and Company was a Disney licensee from 1939 until 1951. Heath was a Boston-based publishing company that produced a series of 12 Disney educational books, which featured a wide range of Disney characters.

Little Pigs Picnic and Other Stories. 1939. 102 pages.

The Heath Disney books utilized the same reading skills and were designed along the same lines as the Dick and Jane books - children learned how to read through the repeat use of words and simple sentence structure. The Heath series followed a logical sequence and became progressively harder as the child moved from one book to the next in the series.

Here They Are. 1940. 56 pages.

Most of the Heath books are quite common, especially those featuring either Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck on the cover, and most can be found with ease on various internet auction sites and at antiquarian and collectible bookshops. Harder titles to locate include: Dumbo of the Circus, Bambi, and Pinocchio.

Bambi. 1944. 101 pages.

Walt Disney's Pinocchio. 1940. 90 pages.

A Bongo book was proposed and even featured in a Heath advertisement, but this title was never published. Heath also published a teacher's guide and several heavy stock, die-cut advertising bookmarks.

Heath Donald Duck bookmark.

Heath Dumbo bookmark.

The art found in the Heath books was created by Disney artists in the Merchandise and Publicity Art Department. After the death of artist Tom Wood, this department was headed by Henry "Hank" Porter, whom Walt Disney once referred to as a "one man art department."

Original art found in the Pinocchio book, inked and painted on a cel.

It's not known at this time which Disney artist was responsible for the gorgeous art found in the Heath books, but an amazing point to note is the fact each illustration (except for the ones found in the Bambi title) was inked and painted on cels like the ones used in the films. This technique gave each illustration an amazing three-dimensional appearance.

The books originally retailed for between 69 cents and $1.04 each. They can be found these days for between $20 and $50 each, depending on condition.

Donald Duck and His Nephews. 1940. 66 pages.

Water Babies Circus and Other Stories. 1940. 78 pages.

Mickey Sees the U.S.A. 1944. 138 pages.
Notice Mickey now sports (humanized) eyes with pupils and three-dimensional ears.

Donald Duck Sees South America. 1945. 137 pages.

All of the books in this post are from the collection of and courtesy Dennis Books.

1 comment:

Cyndi said...

I have the book "Donald Duck Sees South America" and have noticed that pages 127 through 138 were bound upside down.

Does anyone know how many books were bound this way?