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A Moveable Feast for the Eyes

The Atlantic Pilot, an antebellum dance card, and a collection of pop-ups moved at auction

A Moveable Feast for the Eyes

‘Movables’ from the Landwehr Collection, Ketterer Kunst of Hamburg, November 21-22.

One of the many collecting interests of John Landwehr, a distinguished Dutch collector and bibliophile, is children’s books, and in particular, movables. This German sale offered 240 lots documenting the history of movables, pop-up, and other transformation books, and while those issued by the specialist German publisher, Lothar Meggendorfer, inevitably dominated the sale at some ninety lots in all, the collection also offered examples from England, France, and the United States.

Most were still functional and in surprisingly good condition considering their sometimes fragile construction and long usage, but moveable parts, pull-tabs, metal rivets, and rotating disks, etc., had been repaired, restored, or even renewed as required.

Courtesy of Ketterer Kunst.

1. Top price of €4,560 ($6,165) was paid for a French engraved and colored transformation book of c. 1783, Le Sérail a l’encan, but the vast majority of works dated from the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and it is from those items that this selection is primarily drawn.

Courtesy of Ketterer Kunst.

2. Gigerl’s Freud und Leid by J. Beck presents scenes from the life of a Viennese dandy, here seen in trouble with monkeys at the zoological gardens. An 1894 first German edition featuring eight colored litho plates with movable elements and thirteen other text illustrations by Meggendorfer, this exceptionally clean and fully working copy sold at €2,760 ($3,725).

Courtesy of Ketterer Kunst.

3. “With wonder profound, at such a remarkable book, With laughter you’ll shout I really can’t doubt, the longer within it you look,” claims the introduction to this 1894, first English edition of Meggendorfer’s Verwandlungsbilder [Transformation Scenes]. Illustrated with six transformable colored litho plates and fourteen other illustrations, this well preserved and fully functional example sold at €1,560 ($2,105).

Courtesy of Ketterer Kunst.

4. In England the principal publisher in this field was Dean & Son, and the Mother Hubbard that they issued in 1857 may have been the very first children’s book to feature movable figures. Illustrated with eight colored litho plates with movable elements, the copy in the Landwehr Collection sold at €1,080 ($1,488).

Courtesy of Ketterer Kunst.

5. Published by Wilmsen of Philadelphia, c. 1880, this Little Red Riding Hood is unusual in employing creped-paper effects on five double-page coloured litho plates. It realized €696 ($990).

Courtesy of Ketterer Kunst.

6. Published by McLoughlin of New York in 1897, The New Pretty Village contains seventy-three colored litho building elements and around thirty metal clips from which, with the help of a plan, a small village can be built (seen here). It sold at €720 ($970).

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