Bible Scenes 1897

Bible Scenes

And Sweet Stories of Old

Nister Edition number 868
Copyright 1897
Ernest Nister, London
E.P.  Dutton & Co. New York
9 1/4 in. x 11 1/2 in.    23.7 cm x 28.3 cm
25 pages

This beautiful book is a fine example of the pop up books produced by Ernest Nister (1842-1909) at the end of the 19th century.  Nister was a German who succeeded in creating pop up books for a mass audience.

Nister combined beautiful and accessible illustration with a lithographic process to create a new kind of pop up book.  Unlike previous pop up books, Nister employed a team of craftsmen who made it such the pop up scenes in the book would lift off the page as the reader turned the page.

This was a novel concept and it gave Nister the ability to create scenes with physical perspective.  As seen in other examples, some of Nisters scenes had up to four levels of images.

The process to create the books was very high-tech for the time.  Nister closely supervised the creation of the book, often contributing to the illustrations himself.  The printers created large dies that fit around each of the illustrated pieces.  After the thick paper stock was printed using the multi-step lithograph process, each element of the scene was cut using the dies.

The pop up elements were glued into the book after the other pages were printed and the book was bound.  Each pop up is bordered with elaborate die-cut proscenium frames. They are activated by pulling the frame forward in this particular title.

This particular title has 5 pop ups that include: 

Rebecca at the well
Moses striking the rock
Ruth gleaning in Boaz’s corn field
The good Samaritan
The return of the prodigal son

Along each pop up is the story of the bible scene.  The telling of each story falls squarely in line with the Bible.  The adaptation of the Bible story into colloquial English is well done.

Although the pop ups in Nister’s books receive attention, the other drawings on the pages are noteworthy and beautifully printed. 

This particular book bears the original gold Sticker label on the upper left inside cover for New York City’s famous late 1800’s “Frederick Loeser & Co. Book Store”.  Frederick & Loeser was a department store in Brooklyn from the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s.  The store housed a bookstore inside.  This particular label was among the first that Frederick and Loeser used in the books they sold. 

The quality of both the materials used and the craftsmanship of the process is evident in this example.  The colors are bright and the boards of the pop ups are still supple.

The binding of the book is strong with the green cloth spine is not cracked or worn. 

This book is a wonderful example of the books that Nister successfully printed in Bavaria and sold in the United States with his publishing partner, E.P. Dutton.