Panorama Pictures, 1894

Nister’s Panorama Pictures
A Novel Colour Book for Children

Copyright 1894
Ernest Nister, London
E.P.  Dutton & Co. New York
10 in x 12 1/2 in. 25.8 cm x 31 cm.
27 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.  Until Nister’s innovation, pop up elements in books were pulled by hand and did not automatically lift from the page for the reader.

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 four levels of images.

The process to create the books was very high tech for the time.  Nister made the illustrations, often contributing to the illustrations himself.  Then, they 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 result of the labor and technology intensive process was that the books were quite expensive.

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.

Although Nister’s pop up techniques were advanced for the time, the artwork and the written word fall squarely within the artistic and literary sensibilities of the late 19th century.  Each drawing and pop up is filled with elements that the audience could easily recognize and identify.

The book opens in typical Nister style introducing the book and delivering an admonition to the children readers to behave and be nice to their parents and one-another.

Oh, Nister’s Panorama

is the finest show of all,

It’s free alike to young and old,

the tiny and the tall

Twill please the boys

and charm the girls,

and give them such delight

They all will say they never

saw such a sight!

This particular title has five pop ups that include:

  1. The Day they Went to the Zoo
  2. Farmyard Friends
  3. The Digs Academy
  4. At The Seaside
  5. Picnic in the Woods

Each pop up scene is accompanied by a batch of poems and stories that describe the scene.  The Dogs Academy scene is of particular note simply because Nister had a penchant for personifying cats and dogs in many of his works.

This book is done in “Panorama” style, reminiscent of an extended painted scroll that tells a large story in pictures.  Each pop up element consumes the entire horizontal length of the opened book and are three to four levels high creating an astonishing experience for the reader.

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

The quality of both the materials used and the craftsmanship of the process are 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, the red 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.

We have filed every page of the book so that the viewer can read each word and see every illustrated element.  Please enjoy this wonderful piece of literature and art.


  1. Laura Brownell says

    I cannot find pricing for these videos on your website. Please supply more information.

    Thanks so much,
    Laura Brownell
    Audio Visual Services
    Burbank Public Library