The Great Menagerie: Nineteenth Century

S. & J. Fuller, Inventors of Paper Doll Books

“The Fullers were primarily manufacturers of toy novelties, but are featured largely in the early history of the movable book because of their invention of Paper Doll Books, the most famous of which is certainly The History of Little Fanny issued in 1810… The idea [of paper doll books] was certainly ingenious, and it is perhaps no surprise to find that the Paper Doll Books were expensive even for the period, selling at between five and eight shillings each.”

-Peter Haining, Movable Books

Raphael Tuck

“One of the first men to seriously challenge the pre-eminence of the Dean company in movable books was a German, Raphael Tuck (1820-1900)… He saw the opportunity to move into the children’s book market with volumes of high pictorial quality and outstanding production. To produce his books he formed editorial and design studios in London where he employed men of undoubted talent, but took all his printing to Germany.”

“Tuck’s books were colourful and imaginative, catered for young and old alike, and covered topics ranging from ancient myths to contemporary events. In 1875 he became a naturalised Briton, and in due course his outstanding skills were recognized when he was appointed Publisher to Queen Victoria.”

-Peter Haining, Movable Books

Ernest Nister

Ernest Nister was one of the most well-known and innovative makers of movable books in the late nineteenth century. He began his company in Nuremberg, which was then a center for toy manufacturing. After producing several movables for the German market, Nister opened a London branch, where translations were prepared for a British audience. Nister soon expanded to America, where Dutton in New York promoted and distributed his books.

Wild Animal Stories was a “panorama book of a kind which had been seen before but this one required no work on the reader’s part, for the three layers of the picture were linked to the facing page by a tab which automatically pulled them into perspective as the child opened the book… The text was by one of the most popular and prolific writers of boys’ books of the time, George Manvill Fenn (1831-1909).”

-Peter Haining, Movable Books

McLoughlin Brothers: First American Pop-Up Book Publishers

Lothar Meggendorfer, 1847-1925

Meggendorfer was another German artist and paper engineer publishing in the late nineteenth century. His movables, made up of a series of connecting levers, were unprecedentedly complex. As a result, children could easily pull the tabs out too far and destroy the mechanism. In Always Jolly, Meggendorfer warns over anxious children:

With this book, my own dear child,

Are various pictures gay,

Their limbs they move with gestures wild,

As with them you do play.

But still they are of paper made,

And therefore, I advise,

That care and Caustion should be paid,

Lest Woe and Grief arise;

Both you and pictures then would cry

To see wat harm is down,

And sign would follow after sign

Because you’ve spoilt you fun.

Meggendorfer created an estimated two hundred books, and his often humorous approach delighted both children and adults. Today, his original books are extremely sought after and valuable.

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