Far from ordinary – Conservation of pop-up techniques

from 19th century children’s books


  • Marie Grotewohl The State Library, Berlin

Parole chiave:

Pop-up children's books; Conservation; Meggendorfer


With their pull-tabs and pop-outs, their wheel-charts and flaps, their pop-ups and pull-downs. Based on

examples the special challenge of conserving these books will be explained. Not only the torn and deteriorated

paper has to be treated, but also the connection between the parts of the mechanics, which can

consist of metal, cloth or other materials. There can be missing or loose parts within the picture or the

connecting mechanics. The parts have to be reconstructed to restore them to their original function. The

treatment of animated books differs from the conservation of books with just flat pages as they are filled

with 3D pictures. A great deal of creativity is required during the conservation process in order to achieve

a satisfactory result. The State Library of Berlin houses one of the few large scientific special collections of

children’s and young people’s literature. The collection puts one focus in collecting historical children´s

books, as one of the most extensive and important of its kind in Europe. Particularly interesting are animated

books from the end of the 19th century as a special category. Even in these early times of children’s books

publishing, animated books contained a variety of very complex paper constructions. Among others,

Lothar Meggendorfer is notable as one of the most famous artists and authors. Mechanical damages represent

the greatest challenge for the conservators. These result from handling - not always very careful

children’s hands – but also due to the poor quality of the material often used. As a consequence of the

different damages, the construction may not work properly or not work at all. The correct functioning of

the moving parts is essential to the readers understanding of the animated book. These books are far from