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SOLD - Title: Metamorphosis; or a Transformation of Pictures, with Poetical Explanations, for the Amusement of Young Persons

Antique harlequinade or Turn-up book: Metamorphosis; or a Transformation of Pictures, with Poetical Explanations, for the Amusement of Young Persons 1814
Antique harlequinade or Turn-up book: Metamorphosis; or a Transformation of Pictures, with Poetical Explanations, for the Amusement of Young Persons 1814

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Antique harlequinade or Turn-up book

Metamorphosis; or a Transformation of Pictures, with Poetical Explanations, for the Amusement of Young Persons

[8] p. : ill. ; 15 cm. - 5 9/16 × 3 7/16 in. - (14.2 × 8.7 cm) - 1814

Author: Benjamin Sands (American, active 1793–1811)

Engraver: Wood engravings signed: J. Poupard

Publisher: New York : Published by Samuel Wood, no. 357 Pearl Street, printed by Joseph Rakestraw, Philadelphia, 1814.

Closed:5 3/4" x 3 3/4", opened: 11 1/2" x 14 3/4"

Each leaf is folds inward at the top and bottom to create various illustrations

Condition - Very good, see photos. No missing parts or torn images. Still all bound together without repairs. Edge chipping on last page, see photos.

A copy of this particular booklet, created in 1814, is held by the Met Museum in New York:

Book story description:

The fold-able pictures have verses above and below them. The verses on each flap of these books are numbered, instructing the reader in which order they are meant to be read.These are just a few examples:

Panel 1, Upper Flap (Exterior): The first picture shows Adam, with an apple in his hand, standing near the tree of life. Verse:
1. Adam comes first upon the stage, And Eve from out his side, Who was given him in marriage ; Turn up and see his bride."

Panel 1, Upper Flap (Exterior: When the upper flap is turned up, Eve comes into view, and verse 2 is “Here Eve in shape you may behold, One body showeth two ; Once more do but the leaf downfold, And its as strange to view."

Panel 1, Lower Flap (Interior): Upon turning the lower flap down, Eve is changed into a mermaid and the verse reads :

Eyes look not on the mermaid's face, And ears hear not her song : Her features have an alluring grace, More charming than her tongue."

Back: There are additional numbered verses on the reverse sides of the flaps that relate to The story of Adam and Eve, their disobedience, the consequences that followed, and the desirability of spending more of their short life in preparation for the life to come.

Panel 3, Verso: On the back of the third plate,which, when the metamorphosis is opened, is opposite the first picture, there then appears a statement, apparently added to comfort children about the "scary" images:
“That we may not mislead our little readers, it is desired they would understand the Mermaid and Griffin to be only creatures of fable, that never did exist. And although Death is represented in the form of a human skeleton, yet this is only an emblem ; for Death is not a being, but a state.”

This 1814 edition is the earliest known publication of this type that includes a note to the child reader.

Panel 2, Verso: On the reverse side of plate two, which, when the metamorphosis is completely folded, forms the back cover page, is an illustration of a ship under full sail.

Collector’s corner :
(This section details some of our research, all book for sale descriptions are detailed above)

Metamorphoses Books "Metamorphoses" books often called Harlequinades or turn-up books, were composed of single, printed sheets folded perpendicularly into four. Hinged at the top and bottom of each fold, the picture was cut through horizontally across the center to make two flaps that could be opened up or down. Children (and adults) could entertain themselves by following the story or creating endless versions that appear in different orders as they are "turned up" or down . Children often liked to color them.

Harlequinades were first published in the United States c.1787 and based on an anonymous British religious work, The Beginning, Progress, and End of Man, which was printed in London by B. Aslop for T. Dunster in 1650. ( *According to Harlequinade researcher Jacqueline Reid-Walsh, it can be seen only on an (old) microfilm in the British library - she also reports that it was one sided only in black & white with flaps and woodcut images. It was 17.78 cm by 29.21 cm) At the end of the eighteenth/beginning of the nineteenth century a changed-up and expanded set of verses, attributed to Benjamin Sands, began to be published in the United States in both English and German versions. Dozens or editions would be published over the next 90 years. The last one* that we know of was published in 1875 in Pottersville, N.J. by W. Hazen. (See our site for images and availability of this edition) *Worldcat.org "showing all editions for 'Metamorphosis; or, a transformation of pictures, with poetical explanations, for the amusement of young persons" Worldcat Link to editions

No two versions of these books are exactly the same.

Engraver: James Poupard:

The engravings in the Metamorphosis are signed "J. Poupard," (James Poupard) Poupard was a native of Martinique, once an actor, who advertised in the Pennsylvania Gazette of 1772 as an "Engraver, Jeweler and Goldsmith, Front Street, Philadelphia." According to Fielding, his name appears in Philadelphia directories from 179.3 until 1817, as a "seal" and "die engraver." The earliest engraving by Poupard are thought to be those in the Philadelphia "Gazette" of June 29, 1774.

Poupoard's name appears continuously in the Philadelphia directories for 1798—1807. After 1814 Poupard moved to New York and worked primarily with New York Publishers. He and his wife were Methodists of strong religious principles but according to, he "is accused of leading a somewhat riotous life when away from home when in congenial company.

*American Engravers Upon Copper and Steel: Biographical sketches, illustrated. Index to engravings described, with check-list numbers and names of engravers and artists. By: David McNeely Stauffer, Mantle Fielding, punlished by B. Franklin, 1907 Page 214

Interesting: In January, 1791, George Wythe ( Wytheville, VA namesake) wrote to Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia to ask his opinion about the design of a seal for the High Court of Chancery of the State of Virginia. Thomas Jefferson recommended that James Poupard make the Seal of the High Court of Chancery of the State Virginia*

*From Thomas Jefferson to George Wythe, 26 February 17[93],” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson... [Original source: The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 25, 1 January–10 May 1793, ed. John Catanzariti. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992, p. 276.]

On On 24 Jan. 1793,, Alexander Hamilton sent George Washington a statement of his approvals for For payments made upon orders of the President of the United States. One was for James Poupard:
“In favor of James Poupard, being for one large office Seal on Silver, & twelve office Seals on brass, engraved by said Poupard by direction of the Secy of State, for the use of the public offices in the Territory north west of the Ohio.”

“From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 25 January 1793,” Founders Online, National Archives, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washingto... [Original source: The Papers of George Washington, Presidential Series, vol. 12, 16 January 1793 – 31 May 1793, ed. Christine Sternberg Patrick and John C. Pinheiro. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2005, pp. 51–52.]

Publisher: Samuel Wood

The publisher of this metamorphosis was Samuel Wood, who started with a small second-hand book store early in 1804 at 362 Pearl Street in New York City. After he installed a small printing press he began publishing children's books. In 1810 Wood relocated to a larger store at 357 Pearl Street.

In 1815 (A year after this metamorphosis was published)Wood partnered with his sons, Samuel S. and John, and the company became known as "Samuel Wood and Sons".

*From Harry B. Weiss, "Metamorphoses and Harlequinades," The American Book Collector, vol. 2, Aug./Sept. 1932, pp. 100-112

Other references:

*Penn State Libraries, Special Collections/Penn State website:
Unfolding Metamorphoses -The Learning as Play Blog "flaps and folds—making meanings"
Various blog posts by by Jacqueline Reid-Walsh and Colette Slagle 2014-2019


Product Code: P-15