Directions for playing with a set of squares, newly invented for the use of children ... upon the plan of Mr.Locke.

Collins, B. (Benjamin), 1715-1785 [Browse]
7th ed.
London. J. Newbery, at the Bible and Sun ... and. ; B. Collins, in Salisbury [between June. 1743 and March. ; 1744].
32 p. 6 cm. + 24 ill. cards 5.1 x 6 cm.


  • For conservation reasons, access is granted for compelling reasons only: please consult the curator of the Cotsen Children's Library.
  • The simplest games, where children shuffle and deal cards and spell words, can be played with the 24 alphabet cards (present here). The more advanced games require the use of 26 cards consisting of an italic alphabet with moral sentences (not present here). The set could also include 6 additional vowel cards and rules for spelling (not present here) The suggestion is also made that as additional incentive a "Paper of Plumbs" be played for. ... " -- Sotheby's description.
  • DIRECTIONS: collation by signature: demy 64o (60x 50 mm). A-B8 (A1r title, A1v blank, A2r Intro, B2r Directions for playing, B8r Advertisement. To this 7th edition the author has added six squares). 16 ll. Roman type 55 mm. 19 lines. (A few page-numerals and catchwords shaved, slight spotting.
  • Cards: Laid paper mounted on thin card and divided into 24 squares. Each card with a lower and upper case letter (aA-zZ omitting jJ and vV), an Arabic numeral (1-24) at the bottom and a framed woodcut illustration in the centre, all printed in black; above each cut one line from an alphabet rhyme, incipit: "A was an Admiral over the Main", ending: "Z was a Zealot, and full of Devotion", printed in red. (Lacking 32 squares; cards 9 and 23 bent in half and now backed with modern paper, lower edge of cards 16 and 21 ink-stained, corners rounded, some soiling, but the set in fine condition.).
  • A UNIQUE SURVIVAL recently brought to light in a small New England town -- from the incunable period of English children's literature. It is probably the first game of entertainment printed specially for very small children and JOHN NEWBERY'S EARLIEST PUBLICATION FOR CHILDREN. The game has hitherto been known only from the 1\21st March 1744 of the"Penny London orning Advertiser", where "A Sett of Fifty-six Squares" printed for J. Newbery is advertised at one shilling. Christine Ferdinand, Fellow Librarian of Magdalen College, Oxford, who is currently preparing a study of the career and output of Benjamin Collins, has kindly searched for us the pages of the "Salisbury Journal", which was owned by Collins, and found in its 28th June 1843 issue and advertisement for a 50-square versison of the same game printed for J. Robinson in London and sold by B. Collins in Salisbury.
  • This important discovery not only dates the 7th edition (the first with 56 squares) to within nine months before March 1744, but also redefines the relative contributions of the two entrepreneurs, Collins and Newbery, to their joint publications for children. In the June 1744 and all later editions of his celebrated "A Little Pretty Pocket-Book" Newbery so effectively publicized the game of Squares under the heading "The great Q play" that until now all sets had disappeared without a trace.
  • It now appears that the game was originally Benjamin Collins's conception. This is perhaps not surprising, because two years later Collins was able to claim that other instrument of learning and play, the battledore, as "my own invention".
  • Finally, with the surfacing of this group of cards together with its miniature book of rules, the nature and appearance of the game are now establlished. The primary purpose of the Squares is to teach infants to read by the Lockean principle of "cozening children into a knowledge of the letters' by making leaarning a "sort of play or recreation". This principle ... is here realised by providing parents -- to whom the "Directions" are addressed -- with a game somewhat akin to Scrabble.
Binding note
cont mrbld wraps;
Other title(s)
Set of squares
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