Let’s have fun! Games, songs, toasts for all occasions, puzzles, riddles, and stories! Books are a source of fun (“parlor entertainment,” as it was called in the 19th century). Adding to the novelty were books with unusual shapes and moveable parts. Metamorphosis books used flaps to tell a story, and tunnel books presented a new perspective through a peep-hole. Some of these books are soiled and worn, showing that they have been well-loved.
A View of the Tunnel under the Thames (London, 1828).
Construction of the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel under a river, began in 1825. The tunnel was a huge tourist attraction. This early tunnel book made a perfect souvenir, its form relays the experience of being inside a tunnel.
Handmade tunnel book (ca.1850).
This homemade tunnel book might be a depiction of the Thames Tunnel which opened in London in 1843.
The Expanding Fortune Teller (Nashua, N.H., ca.1849).
This toy book comes with instructions. “Expand the wheels by pulling the strings by each tassel. Let the person choose a new number for every question, from 1 to 24. The answer will be found against that number by looking at the colored paper and number named with the question.”
Every Body’s Toast Book (Philadelphia, 1851). Michael Zinman Binding Collection.
Book of 1001 Songs (New York, ca.1856 -1859).
Benjamin Sands, Metamorphosis, or, A Transformation of Pictures (United States?, 1802). Manuscript copy by “A.A. Sept. 25th, 1802.”
Each of the five panels folds at the top and bottom to create three illustrations. This book form, called “metamorphosis,” was so popular that thirty-nine editions were printed in America before 1820. Other manuscript copies exist, but all copies are unique.