University of Delaware Library


Pop-up and Movable Books


Harlequinades, also known as metamorphoses or turn-up books, were the simplest type of movable books. Folded parts of a page were lifted to disclose a new picture that fitted neatly on to the remaining part of the first one. The books were called "harlequinades" because early examples often retold the stories of London pantomimes, in which the character Harlequin usually appeared.

Metamorphosis, or, A transformation of pictures, with poetical explanations, for the amusement of young persons. Sold by Samuel Wood and Sons; Printed by J. Rakestraw, Philadelphia, 1814.

This American example, telling the story of Adam and Eve, was a reprint from a seventeenth-century manuscript example. The text is rewritten from Benjamin Sand's The Beginning, Progress, and End of Man, published in London in 1650. There were at least thirty-six editions of the American version.

The Metamorphosis Intended for the Amusement of Good Children. Boston: Degen, Estes & Co., circa 1830.

A later harlequinade which uses everyday subjects of children playing and at school.

Naughty Girl's and Boy's Magic Transformations. New York: McLoughlin Brothers, circa 1870.

This colorful little book shows a boy getting sick after smoking a cigar and a girl turning into a cat. This is funny at a grade-school child's level with no serious moral purpose.

Pop-up Books

The Mammoth Menagerie. New York: McLoughlin Brothers, circa 1880.

McLoughlin Brothers, innovators of printing techniques, was the first American publisher of pop-up books. The closed flap, which illustrates the animals in their natural environment, appears to be painted on a scroll or curtain that is beginning to roll up. When the flap is lifted, the animal is seen in a cage.

To Market We Will Go. London; New York: Raphael Tuck & Sons, circa 1890.

An accordion book, To Market We Will Go has only one image, made up of five die-cut pages which create a three-dimensional effect.

Cinderella. New York : McLoughlin Bro., 1891.

This book is shaped like a stage proscenium and is bound on both the left and the right sides. The cover and pages are split down the center so that the pages are turned from the middle out. Once opened, the half pages that are turned back become the seating boxes to the left and right of the stage. The format provides a theater experience to the reader.

Red Riding Hood. New-York: McLoughlin Bro., 1891.

The cover depicts a theater stage with the curtain closed and the orchestra playing. The book opens up from the center to reveal not just the story, but the audience.

Peepshow Pictures: A Novel Picture Book for Children. London: E. Nister; New York: Dutton, 1894.

In this illustration of cats dressed as a Victorian family, the picture on the wall shows a two-dimensional version of the three-dimensional scene the reader is viewing.

Wild Animal Stories: A Panorama Picture Book. London: E. Nister; New York: Dutton, 1897.

A much more sophisticated approach to movable books, this panorama is an example of a pop-up book.

Introduction Early Works Fables and Fairy Tales Books of Instruction Primers Poetry Stories before 1850 Stories after 1850


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