Featuring: Animated Circus Book

Julian Wehr, a Brooklyn born illustrator, animated more than 30 books. Like Lothar Meggendorfer, Wehr’s whimsical and colorful characters greatly appealed to children. He improved on Meggendorfer’s pull tab system, so that figures could move side to side as well as up and down on the page surface.

Elephant Appreciation Day

The first elephants acquired by the National Zoological Park were ‘Dunk’ and ‘Gold Dust’ in April of 1891.

Circus Fun

A.  Schoenhut Co., Philadelphia, PA.  Illustrations of Schoenhut’s Marvelous Toys, circa 1908, clown figures. Have you been to the circus lately?  Well, here comes the Humpty Dumpty Circus—made up of toy figurines that children in the early 1900s could play with to create their own small circus.  The circus figures are shown in this circa 1908 trade catalog by A. Schoenhut Co. titled Illustrations of Schoenhut’s Marvelous Toys. According to the catalog’s front cover, the toy circus figures can do “10001 Astonishing Tricks.”  Inside the catalog, page after page shows the positions that the Humpty Dumpty Circus figures can be placed in and balanced.  A clown balancing on top of two ladders, a clown dancing with a horse, and a clown standing on his head while balancing a ladder on his feet are just some of the many unusual tricks that the Humpty Dumpty Circus figures are able to do. The clowns are named Humpty, Dumpty, and Cracker-Jack.  There are also circus animals—an elephant, horse, zebra, giraffe, and others.  To more »

Send in the Clowns

The first week of August is National Clown week. The Libraries ran a post last year about harlequinades, which are featured in its current exhibition, Paper Engineering: Fold, Pull, Pop & Turn. Harlequinades or pantomime books, in which each lifted flap changes the picture or reveals a new twist in the plot, are a form of flap mechanism. Flaps may be cut into the shape of the illustration. From the post: . . . often Harlequinades featured the adventures of a clown or harlequin and were often written to teach a moral. A great example of a harlequinade was this new acquisition featured on our companion blog to the exhibition, Fold, Pull, Pop & Turn, The Falshood of External Appearances, printed in England, ca. 1790. If you are in Washington, D.C., be sure to check out this wonderful show that includes harlequinades, pop-ups, and other examples of paper engineering. It will be on display at the National Museum of American History through September 1, 2011. —Elizabeth Periale

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