2 French Fable Movable Game Books - 1821 - Fables de Florian Mises en Action - A AND B

Fables de Florian Mises en Action - Set of 2 movable (slotty) antique children's books  - A AND B Chez Nepveu, Paris. 1821 - Livre Anime
Fables de Florian Mises en Action - Set of 2

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Fables de Florian Mises en Action - Set - A AND B

Chez Nepveu, Paris. 1821

In two volumes, each with its own marbled paper slipcase (labelled as series A and B), these books in matching marbled paper wraps present 26 fables by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755-1794), with 13 in each volume. The prefaces explain that that the cut out figures contained in marbled envelopes included in the sets should be used to complete tableaux scenes to illustrate the stories. Each set has a finely executed hand-colored background illustration, a pastoral scene accompanying volume A and an interior scene accompanying volume B, with slits in a variety of places to house the tabs below the cut outs of fable figures. The child reader is to make up the pictures as described in the stories, and line illustrated guide sheets in the backs of the books show the correct positions.

Both sets contain:

The book, complete with fold-out guide

The original matching slipcase - 17 x 13 cm

A separate original matching envelope

Complete set of cut-out figures (see photos and description below)

The card with slits in it - on which to position ones desired cut out figures according to the guide in the book

The publication of Fables de Florian follows the apparent success of a similar novelty game book series first published by Nepveu in conjunction with L’Auteur and Lefuel in 1818/1819 covering the fables of La Fontaine in four volumes, which ran to several variant editions. In contrast to the more commonly seen La Fontaine fable game books, the Florian books have many large sized cut out figures. The slot in tabs at the base of each figure code which volume and fable it references, stating No.1 and No.2 for series A and B, as labelled at the foots of the guide sheets, and Fable I-XIII as the fables are labelled in the texts. Although the instructions say no more than that the child should make up the tableaux, the pedagogic potential of the format has often been commented on, as the interactive format invites the child to re-tell the fables and to mix figures to create their own stories. In addition to the two series of fables by La Fontaine and Florian, Nepveu issued at around the same time works covering fairy tales and myths. Contemporary with the emergence of toy theatre, and building on the ideas in doll dressing books, these ‘slotty books’ collectively represent one of the earliest sophisticated attempts to bring interactive entertainment to children’s reading.

Condition: The slipcases and text booklets are in very good condition (wear to spines and edges); the illustrated background scenes are in very good condition. The original sets of cut out figures are near complete, with 20/21 called for in volume A (It was lacking the opossum in Fable XIII, though provided here in photocopy facsimile), and 18/19 called for in volume B (It was lacking the man bowing to the elephant in Fable XII, though again - it is provided in facsimile), and in very good to fine condition (noting loss to the end of the tight rope walker’s pole in B VII).

Although 13 fables are included in each volume, the guide sheets in the rear of the books only cover the first 12, in a 4 by 3 grid, and the figures relating to the 13th fables are to be deduced. This has contributed to confusion over the number of cut-outs called for. Volume A states in the preface that 21 figures come with the set, though less are seen in the guide sheet; volume B incorrectly states that 17 figures come with the set, and 17 figures are seen in the guide sheets, though the two figures called for to illustrate the final fable have been omitted from the total stated in the preface.

Very charming and extremely rare, particularly with both volumes together and in this near complete original state.

Collectors Corner:

The listing below tells us that there are 21 figures and that the children themselves arrange the actors of the fables they read:
From Bibliographie de la France - Journal général ...1820 page 703:

“4588. FABLES de Florian mises en action, avec figures coloriées etdécottpées. In-80 de 2 feuilles (plus un carton sur lequel est an paysage,et un portefeuille contenaut 21 gravures découpées et coloriées). Impde Pillet ainé, a Paris. — A Paris, chez Nepveu. Le tout enfermé dansun étui. An moyan des figures décupees. les enfants disposent eux-memes les acteurs des fables qu'ilslisent.”

Other works issued by Nepveu:

Le jeu des fables ou fables de Lafontaine mises en action, avec ficgures coloriées et découpées, dessinées et gravées par Lambert.A,B,C,D

La Mythologie mise en action par des figures découpées et coloriées Paris, Nepveu, 1822 (Mythology put into action by cut and colored figures)

Les Contes des fées mis en action: avec figures coloriées et découpées. 9 Tales of fairies put into action: with colored and cut out figures.

Other titles that appeared up until about 1830. (There may have been more) are:

Métamorphoses d'Ovide , mises en action par des figures découpées et coloriées (1929)

La Bible mises en action par des figures découpées et coloriées (1929)


Product Code: A-51A