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Books in the Parker collection | Parker collection | Birmingham City Council

Books in the Parker collection

This clip features a series of pop-up books from the 1930’s - or “Bookano Stories” as they were called at the time. You can also see the ingenious way that sound has been incorporated into the charming “Sprechendes Bilderbuch” (speaking picture book) from 1905.


This is actually a book not a game at all but because of the pop-up elements in the book it’s almost a game, because the story is illustrated by full page pop-ups that open completely. And they’re designed by a chap called Kubasta who did a series of these. They’re all called bookano stories, they’re quite rare now, they’re collectable. We have got a very good collection of them now because we’ve just bought some more from the collector in Birmingham. They are remarkable for the colours and for the fact that they’re sort of 1930s and they took traditional fairytales and illustrated them in a very startling and amazing way.

Sometimes the stories are a little weak, [Laughter] but the pop-ups are very very good! This one’s 1936. There is a researcher in Canada who looks into some work on Dartem who was a famous children’s book publisher and she came to the conclusion that it might have been unpublished proof copy that then didn’t go on to be published.  Its what they call an indestructible book which is linen fabric, with paper covering, and you can see again its an alphabet book so you’ve got ABC on the front page and you have to decide what animal the letter refers to yourself and you can see that the linen has been attacked by something, I think that’s probably a kind of mould, a sheep, skylark, a viper, a tiger, a swan, and a turkey, so actually there is nothing for the ‘U’! [Laughter] Maybe that’s why it didn’t make it into print!

This is Sprechendes Bilderbuch and this is with natural sounding animal noises, and here is a natural sounding animal noise and it’s a cockerel [demonstrates here] suffering from overwork! And then we have the goat [demonstrates here], and then we have the ducks [demonstrates here], and then we’ve got the cat [demonstrates here], and the sheep [demonstrates here], and the cow [demonstrates here], and the horse [demonstrates here]. And these are all created by little paper and metal bellows at the back of the book which were repaired and replaced because the paper was getting very weak and wobbly. And we left the back off after it had been repaired just so that people could see how the mechanism works. So if you’ve got a sound with some vibrato in it it’s made by a little coiled spring with little catches in it so that the little metal thing comes down and it vibrates. That’s 1905, Sprechendes Bilderbuch which means literally speaking picture book.