SIL has one of the largest collections of toy and movable books in the United States, with more than thirteen hundred titles (including Joannes Regiomontanus' Liber Aureus (Calendarium), published in 1476 and featuring a diagram of a sundial with a movable arm). Although many of these books were mass-produced over the last hundred years, some of them were created in very limited editions, or they may survive in only a few copies. The exhibition will provide an overview of the four main categories of these ingeniously designed books, including:
- Movables (books with movable parts that do not emerge from the surface of the page)
- Pop-ups (books with parts that emerge from the page in various ways)
- Folding books (for example, books folded like an accordion)
- Fantastic forms (books featuring multiple kinds of intricate paper construction)
Shown above is a set of six etched scenes by the engraver and print-seller Martin Engelbrecht (1684-1756), published around 1740 in Augsburg, Germany [Cooper-Hewitt library call number GV1521.E54 1740 CHMRB]. The separate scenes were designed to be connected together to form a three-dimensional diorama (also known as a tunnel book or peepshow). In 2009, SIL acquired this set as a group of loose paper sheets, practically in the format in which they were originally issued. SIL's book conservator, Vanessa Haight Smith, carefully prepared the sheets for exhibition (as she describes here) and OEC's Richard Gould created a transparent acrylic box for the display, bringing to life this enchanting scene of dancers in a formal garden.
--Diane Shaw, Special Collections Cataloger, Smithsonian Institution Libraries