Little Bronze Playfellows

Cover of "Little Bronze Playfellows"
Cover of “Little Bronze Playfellows”

In Little Bronze Playfellows (1915), author Stella Perry creates fanciful children’s stories based on several of the bronze statues of children scattered about the grounds of the Palace of Fine Arts. It is one of a dozen books issued by Paul Elder during 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition.

Title page of "Little Bronze Playfellows"
Title page of “Little Bronze Playfellows”

The bronze boys and girls are all gamboling about while perfectly naked. For a statue that was not unusual, as a great deal of the of Fair’s sculptures featured naked adults. But notwithstanding the anachronism of classical statuary in modern times, one senses that statues of naked children wouldn’t be so well received in our politically sensitive age.

The book was issued in gold-colored wraps, with a dozen photographic plates (not tipped-in, as in many other Elder publications). The cover illustration, as well as the plate opposite page 10, is the statue “Wild Flower, by Edward Berge. (The statue also appears on page 140 of Perry’s The Sculpture and Mural Decorations of the Exposition.) Unusually for Elder, the book does not have a colophon.

Frontispiece of "Little Bronze Playfellows"
Frontispiece of “Little Bronze Playfellows”, including a poem printed on the tissue guard

Stella George Stern Perry (1877-1956) was an American author, suffragist, and social reformer. She graduated from Barnard College, where she was one of four co-founders of the Alpha Omicron Pi sorority. She also wrote another children’s book for Paul Elder, The Clever Mouse (1916).

Page 24 of "Little Bronze Playfellows"
Page 24 of “Little Bronze Playfellows”
Page 26 of "Little Bronze Playfellows"
Page 26 of “Little Bronze Playfellows”