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Tunnel, The

London: T. Brown, 1825. Item #04191

"The Earliest Peep Show of the Thames Tunnel"

[PEEP SHOW]. The Tunnel. London: Pubd. June 16th, 1825 by T. Brown.

Oblong twelvemo (4 11/16 x 5 3/4 inches; 120 x 145 mm.) in original paper concertina form. Top board with oval opening (1 5/8 x 2 3/4 inches; 40 x 70 mm.). There are six panels within including, the rear panel. Peepshow opens to a depth of 26 1/2 inches; 673 mm., revealing two tunnels with pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Small stain from early sellotape repair to lower first fold on bellows, otherwise near fine.

Housed in the original asparagus-green cardboard slipcase with printed pictorial label on front cover. Rubbed at extremities.

Quite scarce. According to OCLC there are only five copies in libraries and institutions worldwide. (NY Public Library; Smithsonian Institution; Art Institute of Chicago; Indiana University, & Jacob S. Mauney Memorial Library, North Carolina).

"The start of the construction in 1825 of the Thames Tunnel, the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” made international news. On August 23, 1825, the Philadelphia newspaper the National Gazette wrote about the underground tunnel that would connect the opposite banks of the Thames River for commercial purposes as “the commencement of [a] novel undertaking, which will be read with interest.” Constructed after the revolutionary designs of Marc Brunel (1769-1849), the novel undertaking led not only to persons reading about it with interest but to the production of novelties. From the onset of construction and despite floods and collapses in the 1820s and 1830s, visitors flocked to see the tunnel. Merchandise vendors selling all manner of souvenirs, including peepshows, quickly followed. The engineering feat spurred publishers to issue over fifty different designs of Thames Tunnel peepshows between 1825 and the early 1860s. No other subject comprised as many of them. By probable consequence, the contemporary term “tunnel book” soon thereafter superseded “peepshow” in our lexicon for these devices.

"The earliest peepshow of the Thames Tunnel." (Ralph Hyde. #195, p. 177).

The first Thames Tunnel peepshow issued in 1825 by London publisher T. Brown served as the model for the graphic design of the devices, including S. E. Gouyn’s, through the 1830s. Comprised of the imagined Eastern and Western archways, a look through the book’s peephole reveals pedestrian and vehicular traffic, including men on horseback, carriages, and horse-drawn wagons." (The Library Company of Philadelphia).

"The peep-show seems to have been a British invention and the earliest ones are usually the best. The Germans, with their onslaught on the British juvenile market in the 1830's copies, cheapened and coarsened the thing, but the later French ones are the daintiest of all. In modern times the toy has been occasionally revived for advertising purposes." (Percy Muir. Children's Books of Yesterday, p. 190).

Ralph Hyde. "Paper Peepshows", p. 28, # 195; Percy Muir. Children's Books of Yesterday, # 991 (p. 190).

Price: $2,250.00

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