Golden Legacy: Original Art from 75 Years of Golden Books

Arts & Museum Exhibits

January 19, 2022 to March 30, 2022

The Gallery at Penn College

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America’s beloved Little Golden Books were first released in 1942 and sold over 1.5 million copies within five months. The books were originally written and illustrated by the Artists and Writers Guild, printed by Western Printing, and published by Simon & Schuster. The company used strategic marketing, a uniform size and look, a modest selling price (25 cents), and captivating illustrations to sell Little Golden Books.

By the late 1940s, Little Golden Books sought out illustrators awarded The American Library Association’s Caldecott Medal to add prestige to the books, which were not endorsed by librarians. The first Caldecott illustrator was Elizabeth Orton Jones who created artwork for Little Red Riding Hood. Other Caldecott award-winning illustrators through the years included: Alice and Martin Provensen, Leonard Weisgard, Feodor Rojankovsky, Trina Schart Hyman, and David Diaz. Work by these artists is included in the traveling exhibition at The Gallery at Penn College, as well as work by other prestigious Little Golden Books illustrators, including: Tibor Gergely, Elizabeth Orton Jones, Eloise Wilkin, Aurelius Battaglia, Sheilah Beckett, Garth Williams, Mary Blair, Jack Kent, Richard Scarry, Gertrude Elliot, Corinne Malvern, Jan Pfloog, A.Birnbaum, Mary Blair, J.P.Miller, Gustaf Tenggren, Bob Staake, Dan Yaccarino, Hilary Knight, Annie Won, Nicola Slater, and Brigette Barrager.

This exhibit was curated by Leonard Marcus, author of Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books, and showcases 65 original illustrations. It is the most extensive public showing of original illustration art from American publishing’s best loved and most consequential picture-book series, Little Golden Books. This exhibition was organized by the National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.
































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