Rip Van Winkle by Washington Irving was published to international acclaim in 1819. Set in the Catskills, an amiable Rip wanders off in the woods with his dog Wolf to escape his wife’s nagging and to avert “all kinds of profitable labor” only to encounter a silent group of short, bearded men playing nine-pins. After drinking some of their liquor he falls asleep for twenty years. Upon waking, he returns to his village to learn that his wife has died, the American Revolution has occurred and that he must face the fact that many of his former friends have either died, moved on or simply do not recognize him. The short story is an American classic.
This miniature version of the Rip Van Winkle story, measuring only 2 3/16 inches by 2 3/4 inches, served as an advertising booklet for Packard Pianos. The 12-page booklet contains a short, summarized version of the Rip Van Winkle story along with six colorized illustrations. The advertisement for Packard Pianos, which noted that “you can’t get a better piano at any price,” can be found on the back page. The booklet was published in 1916 by John H. Eggers of New York.
Each of the six images in the Rip Van Winkle booklet were created by illustrator Rhoda Campbell Chase (1881-1959), whose work can be found in numerous school and children’s books. Rhoda was the daughter of Henry Seymour Chase (1853-1889), a well-known marine artist, and Laura Emeline Eames Chase (1856-1917), a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, a graduate of Iowa State University dental school and the first woman accepted as a full member of the American Dental Association.
Following in her father’s footsteps Rhoda would become a well-respected artist. She attended the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, lived in Paris while working with Theophile Steinlen as a mentor and studied at the Art Students’ League in New York City.
Beginning in 1917 Chase illustrated a new line of products issued by Harper & Brothers called the Bubble Book, an innovative product which combined books with records. The Bubble Book series, marketed with a slogan of “books that sing,” were aimed at children who could learn to read while singing along to the records at the same time. The record/book combination proved immensely popular, with millions sold every year after its initial release. For more information on the history of the Bubble Book series, see Jacob Smith’s book titled Spoken Word: Postwar American Phonograph Cultures.
For approximately 45 years, from the mid-1910s to her passing in 1959, Rhoda lived in the art-friendly village of Woodstock, New York in the Catskill Mountains, near the setting for the Rip Van Winkle story. She was an active member of the Christian Science Church in Woodstock. Rhoda died on August 1, 1959 at Kingston Hospital in Kingston, New York and was survived by her brother Irwin Chase, of Deep River, Connecticut; a nephew, Rear Admiral Irwin Chase Jr., USN, Ret., of Deep River; and a niece, Mrs. Roger C. Cunningham of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Rhoda Campbell Chase is buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri.
Other books illustrated by Rhoda Campbell Chase include:
Hansel and Gretel (1914)
The Merrill Readers: Third Reader (1915)
The Merrill Readers: Fourth Reader (1915)
Wonderdays and Wonderways Through Flowerland (1916)
Rip Van Winkle (1916)
Puss in Boots (1916)
The Bubble Book (1917)
The Sandman’s Hour: Stories for Bedtime (1917)
The Child’s World: First Reader (1917)
The Child’s World: Second Reader (1917)
The Story of Little Angels (1917)
Sandman Christmas Stories (1918)
Sandman Twilight Stories (1918)
Second Bubble Book (1918)
Third Bubble Book (1918)
The Animal Bubble Book (1918)
The Pie Party: Fifth Bubble Book (1919)
The Pet Bubble Book (1919)
The Funny Froggy: The Seventh Bubble Book (1919)
Happy Go Lucky: Bubble Book (1919)
The Merry Midgets: The Ninth Bubble Book
The Fairy Detective (1919)
The Little Mischief: Tenth Bubble Book (1920)
The Tippy Toe Bubble: 11th Book (1920)
Sandman’s Rainy Day Stories (1920)
Sandman’s Goodnight Stories (1921)
Sandman’s Might-Be-So Stories (1922)
Dot and Don with Mother (1923)
Dot and Don at School (1924)
Visiting Days with Dot and Don (1924)
Dot and Don: The Thoughtful Twins
The Christmas Reindeer (1926)
For the Children’s Hour (1927)
Busy Days with Bobby and Betty (1928)
The Doings of Bobby and Betty (1928)
Good Times for Bobby and Betty (1928)
The Peter-Pan Twins Are Glad to Help (1928)
The Peter-Pan Twins Are Now in School (1928)
Playtime for the Peter-Pan Twins (1928)
Play Fellows (1928)
Friends to Make (1928)
Happy Hour Readers: Good Friends (1935)
And Then We Came Home (1943)
Bob and Betty’s Busy Days (1943)
Bob and Betty’s Play Days (1943)
A Child’s Book of Verse (1943)
Rip Van Winkle
In a little village in the Catskill mountains near the Hudson river there lived many years ago a simple, good-natured fellow named Rip Van Winkle. He was lazy and would not work, but roamed the woods with his dog and gun, hunting and fishing.
All the village children loved him because of his kind heart and simple ways, and would follow him about while he played their games and told them stories.
While he thus idled away time, his farm was neglected, weeds overran his garden, his fences fell down for want of repair and his wife and children were in rags.
Rip’s wife would scold him for his idleness and shiftless ways, and in order to have peace he would take his dog Wolf and to the village inn, where he would sit on a bench in the sun and gossip with his neighbors, and escape his wife’s sharp tongue.
One day, after a harder scolding than usual, Rip took his dog and gun and set off for the mountains, hoping to bring home a squirrel of two to put his wife in good humor again. As he left, he could hear her voice calling after him that he was an idle good-for-nothing, and had better keep out of her sight, and he felt glad to escape the sound of her voice.
He tramped all day and shot many a squirrel and when he grew tired he lay down to rest on the soft grass under the shade of a tree.
Suddenly he heard his name called. He sat up, and looked about him, but he saw no one. Again he heard it – “Rip van Winkle – Rip van Winkle” – several times.
Wolf growled and came close to his master.
Looking again, Rip saw far down in the glen, slowly toiling up among the rocks, a strange little figure. He had a long beard and was dressed in old Dutch style, with a high peaked hat, and on his back he carried a keg of liquor. When he saw Rip he beckoned without speaking, and Rip saw that he was asking for help with his load.
Rip was always willing to help anyone, so he shouldered the keg and took turns with the dwarf in carrying it along the rocky path. Neither spoke a word, and the only sound was from the distant thunder that echoed among the mountains.
At last they reached the top. Rip and his guide entered a small hollow, and there Rip saw a company of strange little men. All wore the peaked hats, and had long beards and great baggy trousers. They were playing nine-pins, but stopped to gaze at Rip.
No one spoke or smiled, but one, who seemed to be the leader and wore red stockings and pointed red shoes, ran to Rip and took the keg. Then they offered it to him, and after taking a drink he grew bolder, and finding it good he took another and another.
Soon he began to feel very drowsy, he eyes closed and he fell into a deep sleep.
When Rip awoke, the sun was shining. He rubbed his eyes and said, “I must have slept here all night.” Slowly the memory of the dwarfs and the wine came back to him, and he cried out, “Oh, that wicked wine! What will my wife say?”
He looked for his gun but saw only an old rusty one, falling apart with age. He thought the little men had stolen his. He whistled for Wolf, who did not come; then he tried to walk, but found he was stiff and sore. He made his way down the mountain with great difficulty, expecting to meet his dog as he went.
He felt very hungry and weak, and dreaded to meet his wife, but felt that he must go on or starve in the mountains.
When he reached the village, he saw many people, but none whom he knew. All stared at him, and the children were strange. Looking down, he saw that his beard had grown long and white, and his clothes were ragged. He made his way to his own house and found it in ruins.
Much distressed, he wandered on, asking those he met about his old friends, but all were dead.
In the crowd that gathered about him there was a young woman carrying a child. Rip finally turned to her and asked her name. Her face and voice were familiar and he learned that she was his own daughter, grown up and married. From her he learned that he had disappeared and had been given up for dead twenty years ago! His wife had died soon after his disappearance.
The daughter welcomed her father with joy, and took him to her home to liver with her husband and children. There he spent his old age in contentment, and never again visited Hendrik Hudson and his band, who played nine-pins in the mountains.