These intricate blackboard stencils from Ideal School Publishing Co. Chicago IL (circa 1910s) are really something special, and from what we can tell, incredibly rare. Designed for K-1, this teaching tool was used to illustrate classic Mother Goose nursery rhymes, holidays and more on classroom blackboards. The paper was unfolded and placed against a chalkboard - then an eraser with chalkboard dust on it was clapped against the paper allowing the chalk to pass through the delicate pinholes and imprint the illustration onto the chalkboard.
All nine of these are incredibly well preserved and from what we can tell, unused. My grandmother and her sister were both teachers so they must have belonged to one of them. This interesting piece of teaching history was tucked in a small metal trunk with numerous books.
My grandmother's collection included:
* Boy Blue
* Four and Twenty Blackbirds
* Miss Muffet
* Hey Diddle Diddle
* Pussy Cat
* Jack & Jill
* Mistress Mary
* Little Bo Peep
* Little Pig Went to Market
I did my best to capture some of the detail on camera, but it's incredibly challenging. We tried a few techniques to project light through the pinholes to see the image on a wall but just couldn't figure out a great way to do so. And since we wanted to preserve the unused quality of these sheets, we didn't paint a wall with chalkboard paint then try the dusting technique ourselves, so the full images will be revealed to the next lucky owner.
As always, I scoured the Internet to find out more about this item, but little info seems to exist on the Ideal School Publishing Co. other then some fun old ad scans on Google Books (love that tool!) dating between 1905 and 1913. The company appears to have held numerous business locations in Chicago, IL and advertised as selling "Construction Materials and School Specialties for Primary Grades." Their principle business seems to have been the Ideal Blackboard Stencils.
What We Left Behind