Patented Feb., 8, 1910

An uncommon early children’s activity, learning book (measuring about 10 inches by 8 3/4 inches) that can fit into many different collecting fields – movable, articulating, educational, etc. Fourteen printed pages on hard cardboard. The MANUAL OF PLAY by William Byron Forbush, published in 1914, describes this book — “When this book is opened, the left hand page reveals a picture of a school-master with a pointer which may be turned to any one of a number of questions in a circle. On the opposite page is a schoolboy, also with a pointer. When a question is asked the book is closed, the cover tapped lightly three times, and on opening the book, the schoolboy is found pointing to the correct answer. This novelty is a source of never ending fascination to young and old. Price, $1.00 – Bradley”

There is edge wear to the boards, but most importantly the arms of the student and teacher are still in this copy. I have not tested the magnet, and suspect it no longer functions as advertised originally, but it is a complete copy. Here is the spine of this unique item

Parker Bros, Salem, Mass. first published this title in 1909 bringing them into publishing. But it never took off, possibly because there was a plain printed cover – nothing to “catch the eye.” In the book THE GAME MAKERS – THE STORY OF PARKER BROTHERS, author Philip E. Orbanes states, “The Electric Book of Wonders” was aptly named, although not terribly successful. George (Parker) believed that he might successfully publish books, as long as each had an added feature, a Parker Brothers “twist”. A former Bell Telephone engineer invented it. It worked flawlessly but failed to capture the public’s imagination.” The inventor previously was an electrical associate of Thomas A. Edison.

Parker Brothers produced only one edition as it did not sell well (despite their claims of it being a “quick seller”. However, perhaps believing the quick seller spiel to be true, arch Rival Milton Bradley came out with their own version of The Electrical Wonder Book one year later, taking out a patent for it Feb. 8 1910 according to the cover. ( The Parker Brothers edition states “Patents Pending, Sphinx Novelty Co. Newark NJ, Gray Lith Co. NY.”) The Milton Bradley edition of the Electrical Wonder Book had an illustrated cover instead of the rather plain cover that this earlier Parker Brothers one has. .… On August 31, 1912 Harry B. Palmer filed a patent for a “game apparatus” in association with Milton Bradley. The description fits the mechanisms used in this book. Our best speculation is that after Parker Brothers dropped it due to sluggish sales, Palmer shopped it out Milton Bradley.  (source for this paragraph –  vintagepopupbooks.com – which further documents this Milton Bradley game in only three libraries, including Yale)

Now to show you the inside pages:

pages 12 and 13 were bound in upside down in this copy

and the last open pages

rear cover

and spine from the rear

Price – $225 (order number 72949)
Ordering information

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