Having written about one of the favourite soft drinks of my childhood the other day, I was reminded of the Vimto Book for Scholars, subtitled Knowledge is Power, that was a prized possession when I was young.
I had several copies over the years, but can’t recall how you went about getting one – I think they were simply given away in the local sweet shop every now and then.
Any copies I owned have long since gone to the great shredder in the sky, but I was able to find a copy for sale on Amazon and, feeling nostalgic, I spent a few pounds buying it as you can see above.
It originally belonged to Mair Davies who lived at the police station in Lampeter, Wales, but that doesn’t help much in determining its vintage. However, the list of Kings and Queens of Great Britain ends at George VI (1936 —) so it certainly pre-dates 1952.
And that really was the point of the book and why it was so prized – it was a veritable cornucopia of the facts, figures and trivia that I was as fond of then as I am now.
For example, in its Useful Things to Know section, you’ll learn that the area of the earth is 196,791,000 square miles; the oldest Bible in the world is written in Greek; the smallest city in England is Wells in Somerset (pop 4,655); ten pennies laid side by side measure one foot and; the average depth of the ocean is 12,060 feet.
Elsewhere you will find astronomical signs, mathematical signs and symbols, a list of the world’s highest mountains and longest rivers and languages of the world, which surprisingly doesn’t include Chinese of whatever form.
The Roman Numerals page were always a favourite in days when knowledge of that dead language was more useful than it is now, apart from being able to work out when a film or tv programme was made. It does give me a clue as to when this edition was published though as the example given is MCMXLIX, or 1949 to you non-Vimto scholars.
It is illustrated with the cartoon style of its time, like the one on the right which I suppose bears out Vimto’s popularity in the Middle East with a bit of racial stereotyping, although why he should be playing a squeeze box is beyond me.