Rare Book Monthly

Articles - December - 2011 Issue

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

Battles in mid air

A complex view of planes battling in mid-air from FLIGHT.

THE SENSATIONAL SAMBURGER by David Pelham, Dutton, 1995. This is a pop up book in the shape of a hamburger with a different spread for the bun, the cheese, the lettuce, the patty and so forth. In the Samburger there’s a different yucky bug or slimy snail jumping out of every layer. This book and other Pelham titles can be pricey in good condition. He has produced numerous other works in a similar vein; they include a box of chocolate with many evil critters embedded in the caramel, or slugs in the pizza pie pepperoni. Because they are made to delight the sensibilities of the very young they often have been roughly handled and it is not easy to find them in pristine condition.

Another David Pelham title with the sought after WOW factor is UNIVERSE, a three dimensional study by Heather Couper and David Pelham, Random House 1985. The book depicts scientific theories as envisioned with paper engineering. It is a large volume that gets even larger when it pops. It has six spreads devoted to the big bang, galaxies, star birth, the solar system, star death and the end of the universe. The art is sensational, the engineering divine and designed to look even better if viewed with a strong light behind it. Because this book also has many little side movables, some of them with strings or other little gizmos, be sure to check that everything is present and actually works.

Pop up books by artists is a popular sub-category of the field. One of the most ingenious of this type is THE DWINDLING PARTY by Edward Gorey, Random House 1982. This is a gothic yet funny adventure of a Victorian family whose members each meet a different disastrous fate. It’s one of Gorey’s most creative works and I’ve seen it sold as low as $13 and as high as several hundred dollars. It is a book that has gone through multiple printings, so for top value it’s important that everything works and the number line begins with 1.


A pop up with exceptional paper engineering is FLIGHT: Great Planes of the Century from the Wright Brothers to the Concorde, Viking 1985, with design by Keith Moseley and paper engineering by David Rosendale and Rodger Smith. This is a large book with vivid depictions of great moments in aviation done in pop-ups. It’s notable for an unusual point of view. For example, it shows a WWI dog fight between two planes as seen from above. There is also a spread showing the Concorde, that great French plane, ready for vertical take off rising almost 11 inches off the page. Some nice copies are listed at nominal prices.

Unless you have deep pockets you’re probably not acquiring any original issue Ernest Nister work any time soon. However, good quality modern facsimile editions abound and they can be very inexpensive. One good example is ANIMAL TALES: A reproduction from an antique book by Ernest Nister, Collins, NY 1980. A good copy showing many endearing 3-D scenes from the farm yard of days gone by costs only a few dollars. Often the shipping is more expensive than the book.

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.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.

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