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Once bit twice shy

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Great Britain (made)

  • Date:

    ca.1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hitch, B. (artist)
    Nister, Ernest, born 1842 - died 1909 (publisher)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink and watercolour on card

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Ernest Nister (1842-1909) began his publishing career in 1885 when he acquired a lithographic workshop in Nürnberg and printed books for London publishers. In 1888 he became a publisher in his own right with offices at 24 St. Bride Street, London. He appointed the writer and editor, Robert Ellice Mack, as director.

Nister specialised in high quality colour printing for children in the last quarter of the 19th century. Movable books with various mechanisms became his speciality after 1890 (when be published his first stand-up book) but he also produced numerous picture books, annuals, poetry, nursery rhymes, calendars and greetings cards. He worked with a core of writers, including Clifton Bingham and Robert Ellice Mack, and illustrators, in particular Eveline Lance, Harriett M. Bennett, Edith A. Cubitt and Rosa Petherick.

Physical description

Pen and ink and watercolour drawing on stiff card of a seaside scene. In the foreground a girl and boy run away from a crab. The boy hops on one leg having been bitten by the crab. Both children wear long striped bobble hats. In the background on the left a boy stands on a rock, his spade in front of him upright in the sand. A crab sits on the sand in front of the rock. Behind the boy on the rock is a beach hut on wheels (used for changing); there is another on the right of the drawing. There are several sailing boats in the sea and a group of bathers near the edge of the water on the beach. In the background on the right of the drawing are cliffs. Mounted on card.

Place of Origin

Great Britain (made)


ca.1900 (made)


Hitch, B. (artist)
Nister, Ernest, born 1842 - died 1909 (publisher)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink and watercolour on card

Marks and inscriptions

Signed by the artist in the bottom right corner

Bookplate on verso reads: 'From the Library of Anne Renier and F.G. Renier'

Initialled in ink on verso by Anne Renier: 'AR'

Inscribed in blue crayon on verso: 'XXIX', '12/12' and '32'

Inscribed in ink on verso: '8034' and 'B. Hitch / Once bit twice shy'

Ink stamp on verso: 'Ernest Nister / Order no. 39670/12


Height: 328 mm Mount, Width: 289 mm Mount

Object history note

Drawn by B. Hitch ca.1900 for an Ernest Nister publication. Bequeathed to the V&A in 1970 by Anne and Fernand G. Renier as part of the Renier Collection.

Descriptive line

Pen and ink and watercolour drawing by B. Hitch, ca.1900; commissioned by Ernest Nister.


Pen and ink; Watercolour; Card



Subjects depicted

Seascapes; Crab (crustacean); Beaches; The Sea; Boys; Cliffs; Girls; Sailing boats; Spade; Sea-shores


Drawings; Illustration; National Art Library

Production Type



National Art Library

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