Prints started to play an increasingly important role in educationalcontextsinthelateeighteenthandearlynineteenthcenturies,asdocumented in Jill Shefrin’s meticulous account of material producedby the“industry in printed teaching aids”(2009, 3). When SamuelWilderspin, one of the driving forces behind infant school education ofthe 1820s, introduced pictures into his classroom and convinced the54E. O’SULLIVAN
publisher William Darton Jr. to start issuing“lessons”or educationalprints for infant schools (102), education took what we would todaycall a“pictorial turn.”5LEARNINGGEOGRAPHY WITH THERUDIMENTBOXOne of the new educational aids Darton issued between 1830 and 1834was the Rudiment Box, also known as the Drawing Room Mine, an“elaborate novelty”that offered“an entire curriculum in a box, largelythrough pictures”(Shefrin2009, 106). Intended for use by a teacher witha large class of pupils or in a private nursery, the painted wooden boxmeasured approximately 60 cm × 60 cm × 25 cm, with hinged, glass-paneled doors front and back, and containedfifty-three hand-coloredprints pasted onto rolled-up linen strips. When the teacher turned acrank“rather like an old gramophone handle”(Lawrence Darton quotedin Coghlan and O’Connor2009, 93), a roll of prints passed behind eachwindow.Some of the prints on the rolls date from the early 1820s (ibid.); otherswere issued simultaneously with the box, and many were advertised else-where for separate sale. In 1834 the Liberty Infant School in Dublin,where the box was possiblyfirst implemented, issued a thirty-two-pagepamphlet,Introductory Lectures to the Subjects in the Rudiment Box, forteachers to use with the prints.6The purpose and use of the box areexplained,andscriptsareprovidedforlessonson“Geography,”“Agriculture,” “Natural History,” “Manufactures,” “Trades,” “Figures,”“Astronomy,” “Geometry,” “Grammar,”and“Miscellaneous”(Anon.1834, 32). The script for geography, the subject in which the concept of“foreign nations”is usually introduced, underscores what Valerie Coghlanand Geraldine O’Connor (2009, 95) identify as the“desire to engagepupils and to enliven the educational experience”evidenced by the rolls:CHILDREN,As you all seem to think that you had rather be industrious, usefulcharacters, than idle and vicious, I hope you will pay attention to a littleinstruction. We will choose Geography for our subject.. . .Kingdoms, orcountries, are often inhabited by people of very different characters;some are very sober and industrious, and spend their time in cultivatingtheir land, taking care to enrich it with good manure, and clear it ofgreat stones and weeds; which makes it produce such good crops, thatPICTURING THE WORLD FOR CHILDREN: EARLY NINETEENTH-CENTURY. . .