München [Munich]: Verlag von Braun & Schneider, 1890. Item #04085
Rare Meggendorfer Title
In Remarkable Condition
[MOVABLE BOOK]. MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Zum Zeitvertreib [Always Jolly] für brave Knaben & Mädchen Ein Ziebilderbuch von Lothar Meggendorfer. München [Munich]: Verlag von Braun & Schneider, n.d. [c. 1890].
Fifth edition of Always Jolly, rare in any edition, rarer still complete and fully functional.
Folio (11 7/8 x 9 1/4 in; 303 x 235 mm). Eight hand-finished, chromolithographed plates, each with a movable tab to set the scene in motion. Captions to each scene appear on opposing pages.
Original color pictorial boards with original black cloth backstrip. All tabs in working order. Minimal wear to corners, light rivet oxidation offsets. An excellent copy of a Meggendorfer title that is featured in Peter Haining's Moveable Books.
"Quite simply, Meggendorfer turned the mechanical toy book into a work of art. He was the supreme master of animation: every gesture, both animal and human, is conveyed with uncanny precision via the primitive but - in his hands - versatile medium of moveable paper parts… I have no doubt that a new generation will share my addictive pleasure in his work" (Maurice Sendak, The Genius of Lothar Meggendorfer. p. 1).
“There is little doubt that the most elaborate and ingenious movables ever produced were those of the German Lothar Meggendorfer (1847-1925) made during the 1880s and 1890s…the mechanisms and operations of Meggendorfer’s books—not to mention the originality of his figures—are far superior to any others published before or since.…'They were marvels of ingenuity…Usually several movements took place at the same time on the same page' (Eric Quayle)…The devices that operated the various figures in Meggendorfer’s books consisted of a series of inter-connecting cardboard levers sandwiched between the coloured illustration on the front of the oblong leaf and the dummy pasted behind it. The animated limbs and heads were cut-out models on the front of the picture, and moving the tab set the whole scene in motion…Needless to say, such was the delicacy of Meggendorfer's machinery that if a child pulled too hard the whole thing could be ruined beyond repair” (Haining, Movable Books, pp. 65-73).
Despite Meggendorfer's charming admonition that "Men and creatures here you find/Are lively and amusing;/You fingers must be slow and kind/And treat them well while using," the books were routinely subjected to rough treatment by the enchanted children who enthusiastically played with them. That any have survived is noteworthy; that any survive with near complete movement is remarkable. That this copy has, in addition, endured with its backstrip cloth wholly intact and untouched, is quite astonishing.
Haining, Peter. Moveable Books. pp. 65-73.