Millions of Cats
New York: Coward-McCann, 1928. Item #04879
"Cats here, cats there, Cats and kittens everywhere,
Hundreds of cats, Thousands of cats,
Millions and billions and trillions of cats"
GÁG, Wanda. Millions of Cats. New York: Coward-McCann, 1928.
Edition De Luxe limited to two hundred and fifty copies signed by Wanda Gág (of which this is No. 245) containing an additional original wood-engraving that does not appear in the book, signed by the artist-author.
Oblong quarto (6 5/8 x 9 3/4 inches; 169 x 247 mm.). [1, limitation, verso blank], - pp. Pictorial title-page and numerous illustrations throughout including five full-page and several double-page.
Publisher's yellow, red and black pictorial paper over boards, red and yellow pictorial endpapers. A fine copy in the publisher's black cardboard slipcase with original printed label on front panel. The slipcase has been neatly repaired on the edges, but is absolutely complete.
The additional signed woodcut measures 5 7/8 x 4 1/2 inches; 149 x 114 mm., and is in a small stiff paper frame measuring 7 3/4 x 6 1/2 inches; 197 x 15 mm., complete with the original tissue guard. The woodcut depicts a small cat curled up on the cushion of a rocking chair in a sitting room with a small round table and chair and two flower vases atop a draped pedestal nearby.
Scarce with the slipcase and the original signed wood engraving.
Millions of Cats is the oldest American picture book still in print. And according to Barbara Bader, in her work, American Picturebooks, from Noahs Ark to the Beast Within, she infers that Millions Of Cats is the first true picturebook. "Millions of Cats began life as a tale [Gag] made up to amuse her friends children. Published in 1928, the story of a lonely old couples search for a feline companion was a popular success and became a Newbery Honor Book. Millions of Cats was the first to use a hand-lettered text and to integrate the copy with the illustrations, resulting in a unified page design." (American Dictionary of National Biography).
Wanda Hazel Gág (March 11, 1893–June 27, 1946) was an American artist, author, translator, and illustrator. She is best known for writing and illustrating the children's book Millions of Cats, the oldest American picture book still in print. Gág was also a noted printmaker, receiving international recognition and awards. Growing Pains, excerpts from the diaries of her teen and young adult years, received widespread critical acclaim. Some of her books have been awarded Newbery Honors and Caldecott Honors.
In 1927 Gág's illustrated story Bunny's Easter Egg was published in John Martin's Book magazine for children. Gág's work caught the attention of Ernestine Evans, director of Coward-McCann's children's book division. Evans was delighted to learn that Gág had children's stories and illustrations in her folio and asked her to submit her own story with illustrations. The result, Millions of Cats, had been developed from a story that Gág had written to entertain the children of friends. It was published in 1928. Anne Carol Moore (in the New York Herald Tribune) wrote: "… It bears all the hallmarks of becoming a perennial favorite among children, and it takes a place of its own, both for the originality and strength of its pictures and the living folk-tale quality of its text. A book of universal interest to children living anywhere in the world." Millions of Cats is on the New York Public Library's list of 100 Great Children's Books.
Gág is widely considered to be a pioneer in the development of the picture book form. Prior to Millions of Cats, illustrated books generally had text on the left page with pictures on the right. Gag integrated the text with the pictures while sometimes stretching them across a double page.
Grolier. One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature #72; Winnan 58.