Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2011 Issue

Collecting Pop-Up Books & Movables: An Old Field with New Fans

Selected covers pop

An array of modern pop-up books.

Given that recommendation it’s not surprising that the book is also the winner of a Meggendorfer Award for the Best Paper Engineering given by the Movable Book Society.  The Society meets every two years; its next gathering will be in Salt Lake City in 2012.

Rubin also likes the work of paper engineer Andy Baron. He in turn recommends the Pocket Paper Engineer by Carol Barton as the best possible book for a beginner interested in making their own pop ups. Check his review for it at Amazon.com for his comments.

One way to get an idea of the range in period, technique and subject matter is to take a look at the antique anatomical flap books in the collection of Duke University and contrast their intricate detail with the zany modern abstracts that shimmer, wobble and bounce in the 600 Black Spots.

The Pop Up Lady’s site has many useful links to other artists, illustrators, paper engineers, pop up vocabulary as well as the care and repair of pop ups. Some of these may be too detailed and sophisticated for the beginner or casual enthusiast but they’re fun to view.

With modern pop ups it's important to shelve them loosely and in a cool stable environment. Because these books are often printed on a thick gloss stock with a heavy application of inks and varnishes, if they are shelved tightly the parts may stick to each other or the adjacent page. Variations in temperature and humidity increase the chances of sticking so it is important to open them periodically and to check on the condition of the mechanisms.

If you’re new to this field and wondering where you might start, here’s a brief list of some relatively recent and not too expensive titles that seem assured of a future in the world of collectible pop ups.

THE HAGGADA OF PASSOVER with pop up spreads as adapted from the Bird's Head Haggada c.1300 in the Israel Museum, Koren Publishers, Jerusalem, Kidsbook Inc. 1997.

Of the titles in my own collection this one seems the most likely to see an increase in future value. It’s bi-lingual Hebrew & English. It tells the story of Exodus by reproducing and animating an antique manuscript. Along with the text of the traditional Passover story it shows such scenes as Moses parting the Red Sea and the Plagues of Egypt … lice, frogs, blood, locusts, etc., each done as a different movable. It is issued with a protective slip case. A recent check of the bases turned up fewer than a dozen US copies offered for sale, all at surprisingly modest prices given the originality and complexity of the design. I also saw one copy in Canada at B-Line Books in Nova Scotia.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.

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