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A 257-Year-Old Coloring Book Was Discovered in St. Louis

It was intended for “Gentleman and Ladies.”

You’re never too old for a good coloring book, a truth that was clearly familiar to people in the 18th century. The historical evidence? A 257-year-old coloring book intended for adults that was recently found in the collection of the Missouri Botanical Garden, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The book, titled The Florist, is one of just a handful of copies that survive, among them two held at the Yale Center for British Art. It was discovered by Amy Pool, a curatorial assistant at the garden. “She was doing some light reading in ‘The History of Botanical Illustration’ when she happened upon a reference to a 1760 coloring book,” the Post-Dispatch reports. “Pool entered the title in the garden’s digital catalog and found it had a copy.”

What’s inside? Dozens of botanical images that were intended to show readers how to properly color the flowers according to nature. This copy, though, was never colored, a fact that may have helped preserve it after all these years. And now, the book, printed around 1760, might live forever: It’s been digitized.