Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lothar Meggendorfer Mania at Auction

by Stephen J. Gertz

MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Humoristische Blätter.
München und Wein: u..a. Schreiber, 1891-1903.
First  edition. Quarto. Collection of all 165 issues
of this humor magazine.

On November 21, 2011. Ketterer Kunst Auktions of Hamburg held a magnificent sale of the J. Landwehr collection of movable books. The auction included eighty-six volumes by Lothar Meggendorfer, the innovative master of mechanical books. Of those eighty-six, only a handful of lots did not sell (but remain available by post-sale).

From: MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Gamla Bekanta.
Stockholm: O.L. Lamms, [c.1880].
First Swedish edition. Quarto. 25 color lithographs.

John Landwehr is the renowned Dutch collector and bibliographer of emblem books, the author of the standard reference on Dutch color-plate books, an esteemed scholar of the Dutch East India Company, and, not so by the way, one of the world's great collectors of children's literature, with an emphasis on movable books.

From: MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Grosses Puppentheater.
Esslingen: J.F. Schreiber, [1890].
First edition. Quarto. 6 color-lithographed plates by P. Wagner
and 9 illustrations by Meggendorfer.

“There is little doubt that the most elaborate and ingenious movables ever produced were those of the German Lothar Meggendorfer (1847-1925) made during the 1880s and 1890s…the mechanisms and operations of Meggendorfer’s books—not to mention the originality of his figures—are far superior to any others published before or since.…'They were marvels of ingenuity…Usually several movements took place at the same time on the same page' (Eric Quayle)…

From: MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Heitere Verwandlungen.
N.p., [c. 1880].
First edition. Quarto. 6 multi-part color-lithographed plates.

"The devices that operated the various figures in Meggendorfer’s books consisted of a series of inter-connecting cardboard levers sandwiched between the coloured illustration on the front of the oblong leaf and the dummy pasted behind it. The animated limbs and heads were cut-out models on the front of the picture, and moving the tab set the whole scene in motion…Needless to say, such was the delicacy of Meggendorfer's machinery that if a child pulled too hard the whole thing could be ruined beyond repair” (Haining, Movable Books, pp. 65-73).

From: MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Kinderlieder.
Neurode: E. Rose,, [1907]/
First edition. Quarto. Numerous illustrations by L.M.

"While Meggendorfer was an inventor, working with paper, he was also an artist of great talent," said modern master, Waldo H. Hunt, "who insisted upon handling most of the details required of multicolored lithography...
From: MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Lebende Bilder.
München: Braun & Schneider, [c. 1890].
First edition of the movable book by  Meggendorfer.
Quarto. 8 color-lithographed plates.

"But what really set Meggendorfer apart," Hunt continued, "and what has continued to fascinate collectors of his work, are the ingenious mechanizations that he achieved, not just for their own sake but to fulfill and enhance the comic or dramatic effect that he had in mind" (Introduction to The Genius of Lothar Megendorfer).

MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Look and Laugh. London: H. Grevel, c. 1897.
First U.K. edition. Quarto. Four color lithographed plates.

Given the circumstances, it's something of a miracle that any have survived in collectible condition.

MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Neues Struwwelpeterbuch.
Esslingen: J.F. Schreiber, [1891].
First  edition. Quarto. Numerous illustratoins, many in color.

The Landwehr Collection sale was one to keep an eye on simply because the collectors market for movable books is limited and this was an enormous amount of material to appear at a single offering.

From: MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Nur für brave Kinder.
Esslingen: J.F. Schreiber, [1896].
Seconf German edition. Quarto. Six color-lithographed plates.

A total of 241 movable books from the Landwehr Collection were offered in the sale. Sixty-six did not sell; approximately 25% of the collection went begging and are now being offered by Ketterer Kunst in a post-auction sale.

From: MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Verschiedene Leute.
Esslingen und München: J.F. Schreiber, [1902].
First edition. Quarto. six color-lithographed plates.

That 75% of the collection did sell, however, is a positive sign. It was always iffy that all would would be claimed by collectors; there are just not that many in the world who are committed to movable books.

From: MEGGENDORFER, Lothar. Les aventures de Zigomar.
N.p. , c. 1890.
First edition in French. Quarto. 14 color-lithogrphed plates

It was a good day, then, for collectors and the trade. Not a great day, but, given the still struggling economy, a positive omen.

All images courtesy of Ketterer Kunst, with out thanks.

Of related interest:

A Movable Book Feast: The World's Greatest Collection Comes to Auction.

Lothar Meggendorfer Animates the Inanimate.


Subscribe to BOOKTRYST by Email