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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bill Woggon - Story of the Ballet Coloring Book (Saalfield 1963/1964)

Bill Woggon - Story of the Ballet

** More pages from this book can also be found here (posted 5 May 2013) ** 

I bought this book on eBay and it arrived on Christmas Eve, so turned out to be a very special Christmas present to myself!

Bill Woggon's most famous creation is Kathy Keene.  I also discovered while searching for this book that he illustrated the comics of 'The Archies', a favourite of mine during my tweenie years.  But for me his crowning achievement was this book - The 'Story of the Ballet' - a very special childhood memory.

As an adult I'm blown away by his technical ability and draughtsmanship.  This is a colouring book intended for children, but the quality of work on display is utterly sublime.  Much of the appeal is because they are monochrome line drawings - done with a precise but delicate touch.

Even as a woman myself I adore Bill Woggon's depiction of the female form.  These ballerinas are graceful, feminine and beautiful - but at the same time they are also quite sexy and alluring.  All of this is achieved with just a few (expertly applied) pen strokes.  

The Story of the Ballet was published by Saalfield in 1963/64.  Illustrations are by Bill Woggon with costume design by Cassie Bill.  I've decided to devote 3 posts to this book (although not necessarily consecutively) because it contains such a wealth of creativity.  Today I'm featuring some of the ballerinas.  There is also a storyline of two little girls who want to take ballet lessons.  I found the depiction of 60's family life and values so delightful (and at times hilarious) that I decided this aspect of the book deserved a post of its own.  And then finally there are paper dolls of the two children with ballet outfits to cut and colour - this will make up the third post.  

Previously I featured two other ballet colouring books on my blog that I sourced and bought because they were special childhood memories (I've provided links to both at the end of this post).  At the time I realised that a third book existed - this one - probably my favourite of the three. As so often happens to me I discovered a reference to this book by accident when I had forgotten all about it.  Since then it has taken me a year and a half to track down a copy.

Again I managed to do this by accident.  I discovered a job lot of paper dolls that were being auctioned by Mary at Best Paper Dolls  Have a look at the link to her shop - she has some lovely paper doll sets on offer (I'm trying very hard not to be tempted by a few of them including a stunningly beautiful set of American Colonial paper dolls that will be on auction for the next 5 days.)

The lot that initially attracted my attention contained three sets of used/cut ballet paper dolls and this colouring book.  I already have two of the other sets and was not interested in the third so I took a chance on the auction and waited until it was over.  Mary then very kindly placed the book by itself in a separate auction so I was able to buy it on its own.

My copy of the book was in a combined lot because it is not in perfect condition - some of the pages have been coloured in and from memory a couple are also missing.  Mary had given very specific details about the state of the book so I knew exactly what I was getting and was just thrilled to finally have a copy.  As you can see from the scans I've included many of the key illustrations are untouched and perfect so it has been an absolute joy to be able to feast my eyes on these drawings again.

Below are a few more of the ballet scenes.  Next time I'll include some of the family in the story.

I was about the same age as these little girls when I first owned a copy of the book.  For me it had the most wonderful magical quality.  I get exactly the same thrill of that magic today and these delightful illustrations are still capable of transporting me to that wonderful world of childhood dreams and imagination.

The two colouring books I've featured before are:

Thank you also for all the Christmas wishes and comments left on my last post.  I hope everyone had a truly wonderful Christmas and that the New Year has started well. Today (5th January) is Twelfth Night so the 12 Days of Christmas are now officially over!  Time to pack all the festive finery away and bid farewell to this special time of year.

As a parting memory I thought I'd show you a present I received that I wasn't expecting.  My best friend at work gave me this stunning candle holder, designed and made here in Ireland:


I love the beautiful glow it gives to the candles and the red colour of the glass 'blooms' is both festive and sumptuous.  I don't usually light candles in the chandelier above the table but for a special occasion it was nice to have the whole effect - and on a winter's day there is nothing nicer than the comforting glow of all these little twinkling lights!


Today I also discovered that Donna at Donna's Designs has posted details of the Christmas card she made for me!!  You can see it here at Evergreen Tree.  It was such a wonderful surprise getting this card (Donna is incredibly talented - the cards she makes are beautiful). I was thinking of including it somewhere on one of my own posts - but being able to show you how it was made with this link is even more special!!


Victoria Stitch said...

oh wow those are BEAUTIFUL illustrations! am very jealous of those books! I love that the dancers look so pretty. thanks so much for sharing these on your blog!

ArtSings1946 said...

I really enjoyed this post ... am having a hard time keeping up with everything and you reminded me that we just have to get the decorations down. These illustrations bring back memories ... I do believe this style of drawing was popular back then and captures a "moment in time". I never had a waist like that though ... although my daughter had.

Love always,

Georgia said...

While browsing for ballet images through Google, a picture led me to your blog.
I hadn't thought about a very special coloring book I had as a child until you so wonderfully reminded me!
I started taking ballet at age 4 or so and danced through many a Nutcracker by the time I finally retired my toe shoes. Ballet is really a cornerstone of my childhood and I do thank you so much for sharing this coloring book...I remember the two girls trying so diligently to make the proper foot placements and a very patient instructor and something in the back of my mind is saying that there is a family dog in the story that possible?
I could relate to the small girls going to take their lessons and then would dream about the gorgeous ballerinas and their tutus.
I must bookmark your page to see your next post about your wonderful find!
Thanks for sharing-

Victoria said...

Such beautiful and dazzling! Beautiful post..lovely photos! Wishing you a beautiful 2013 filled with many Blessings!

Sharon Souter said...

Thank you for your lovely comments Harriet, Jan and Victoria. It is always wonderful to hear from you.

Hello Georgia - its very nice to meet you. It seems as though we share very similar childhood memories. Your recollection of the book is spot on - there is a dog in the story and I will include pictures of it and the two girls at their lessons the next time I post from the book. You may be thinking of some of the pages at the start which show the 5 ballet positions. It won't be next week's post as I want to vary my content a bit, but it will be featuring soon!

DeadSpiderEye said...

That's a very nice find, the precision of the line work is really impressive. It would never occur to me to look for such quality in a colouring book, great job finding this gem. My favourite is the cowgirl one, the brevity and precision of the line really makes it pop.

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

What a special Christmas present! A nice treat for yourself! The illustrations really are beautiful. I also love the candle holder your friend gave you! Glad to hear that your holidays went well.

Wishing you a magical year filled with joy and good health!

Donna Yates said...

Look at all those amazing swirls and the arms and legs! Stunning.
I love your table all set up and what a wonderful addition that candle holder makes.

Donna Heber said...

Hi Sharon,

I'm so glad you were able to find this book for yourself. The illustrations are beautiful and the dancers look so elegant! Your friend from work has given you such a wonderful gift. The twinkling lights are gorgeous. I'm glad you liked the card and thank you for mentioning it on your blog.

Joleene Naylor said...

Beautiful! I love line art, and you;re right, his is fantastic!

CraveCute said...

Lovely to have you back Sharon! This book is a rare find! Looks to be in very good shape too! Your home is so warm and inviting, the candle-holder is very pretty with the glass accents!

Nora said...

I'm quite jealous! I've been trying to get my hands on this coloring book for YEARS. I do have the Child's Ballet Coloring book with the alternate cover AND uncolored. I had to scan it in two scans and still need to piece it together since it is such a large book. I own quite a few of the Katy Keene comic books which Woggin was so famous for. I love the illustrations in this book though. One day I do hope to own it myself. :)
Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I also love your holiday decorations. I've been really enjoying sharing the changing seasons in Ireland. One day, hopefully around March 17th, I hope to travel to the emerald isle in order to celebrate my birthday...which just so happens to be on March 17th. LOL Happy New Year Sharon! And thank you again for the lovely posts.

GardenofDaisies said...

What a wonderful book! Oh, I do see the similarities to the Archies and Katy Keane now. I think in the back of my mind I looked at his work and realized I had seen something similar... but it didn't click. I love learning about paperdolls and the artists who drew them! That is such a lovely gift from your friend. The dining table really glows in the candlelight. I'm heading over to see your card next.

Barbara said...

Sharon, the ballet colouring book is quite beautiful, as is your Christmas table and the wonderful hand made card. I’m enjoying catching up with all your posts. I hope you have a fantastic 2013.


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