Once Upon a Simpler Time

by Liz on June 26, 2015 · Children's rare books

Tasha Tudor MouseMills

In the midst of our current, diverse, fast paced, competitive, corporate ladder climbing, rat race of a day-to-day society, nearly every work-worn and weary individual holds in common the ability to think back to a simpler time during childhood where anything and everything was possible between the covers of a book.

Throughout that small window of time where childhood innocence belied true reality and set in motion a magical and delightfully distorted view of the world around us, notions and fantasies of mythical beings such as Santa Claus likely inhabited each individual’s mind and imagination.

For the renowned and much beloved author and illustrator Tasha Tudor’s offspring, however, Santa Claus was merely one small element in a vast and eclectic myriad of figures in a spellbinding and extraordinary world crafted straight from the author and illustrator’s paintbrush and heart.

Rather than introducing her young children simply to well known mythical favorites such as Santa Claus when they were small, Tudor chose to also encapsulate her children into a utopian land where animals could communicate and carry out daily life much as human beings could. Through an ingenious form of postal service dubbed ‘Sparrow Post,’ one outlet to Tudor’s world of splendor and simplicity was accessed through enthrallingly beautiful catalogs from which her children could purchase articles of clothing and accessories for their beloved animal playthings and doll family, who also led quite the detailed and intriguing life!

Charmingly entitled the Mouse Mills Catalogue, each of Tudor’s hand pieced and illustrated ‘catalogues’ depicted various outfits for her children’s dolls and toys, which were supposedly created by the mice at The Mouse Mills Rocking Chair Court. Rather than selling for common monetary currency, however, the Mouse Mills Catalogues were even further unique in that their merchandise was offered for sale in exchange for, not nickels and dimes, but common buttons!

What is truly incredible, and a fact that truly sets Tudor apart from we mere mortals, so to speak, is the fact that her children never knew their mother was not only the mastermind and creator of the Mouse Mills Catalogue, but also of the lovely handmade items which they regularly “purchased!” In a film biography entitled ‘Take Joy!’ Tudor proudly asserted the fact that her children never realized that their mother was behind the entire delightful interchange between humans and mice.

Today, the Mouse Mills Catalogues can only be admired through a facsimile printing of the MouseMills Catalogue for Spring published by Jenny Wren in 1989 . The same publisher issued The Jenny Wren Book of Valentines in 1988 and the very scarce The Bouquet also in 1989. They’re a whimsical window pane through which a captivating and riveting world awaits, where humans, dolls and animals walk side by side.

About the author

Partner, rare book dealer. Sekkes Consultants.

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