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The Speaking Picture Book

antique movable book -The Speaking Picture Book
The Speaking Picture Book, antique toy book

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The Speaking Picture Book. A New Picture Book with Characteristical Voices.

[Germany] [Theodor Brand] circ: 1880’s

Chromolithographed Box holds eight beautiful full-page chromolithograph illustrations . Pages mounted to the top of a wooden sound box which reproduces the sounds of animals, with the pull of a string. When the string is pulled, the child hears the sound of the animal that appears in the illustration. The remarkably lifelike sounds are made by a series of bellows, paper reeds and pipes hidden within the box. The sounds include a donkey, a cock, a cow, a goat, lambs, birds, a cuckoo and two of children calling for their ‘Mamma’ and ‘Pappa’
Illustrations and text pages are in beautiful condition.
There are 9 holes but 2 don't have either tabs or strings.
There are 7 tabs with strings - all work to move their respective bellow.
6 of the tab strings make animal noise, one is faint but obviously a cow and another is so faint that I could not get a decent sound after 3-4 pulls.

All 8 bellows are present. The one bellow without a sting attached looks complete but has duct tape on it. I tried to push on it a bit to see if it made the bird noise but heard nothing. Sounds comes out of 6 out of 8 bellows when pushed.

Edgewear on book corners. Text pages in great condition without chipping.
Other Information:
(12 1/5 x 9 1/2 in; 32 x 24 cm)
Sold by FAO Schwartz, 39-41 West 23rd St, New York, Printed in Germany. Red cloth binding with color illustration on front, carved gold gilt painted wooden sides. Stated eighteenth edition.
In the late 19th century, this book would have cost the equivalent of $250 in today’s dollars. English editions such as this were sold at the FAO Schwartz toy store in New York City.

We would love to add additional information if an expert collector would like to email us at [email protected].

The Speaking Picture Book was first produced in Nuremberg, Germany, by publisher Theodore Brand, the book’s inventor. Brand obtained a German patent for the book in 1878, and a British patent followed a year later. In addition to the German edition, English, French and Spanish editions were published.

According to deadmedia.org, “This Victorian toy, primitive though it is, is probably still the best synthetic speech toy to reach the market, and was certainly the predecessor of the Vocoder and of modern electronic voice synthesizers.”

‘The piece de resistance of any collection of movables, or toy-books for that matter, is surely The Speaking Picture Book (c. 1893), an item of such charm and fascination that even the most blasé modern parents or their children can hardly fail to be captivated by it. Stored in an ordinary brown cardboard box, this ‘Special Book with Picture, Rhyme and Sound for Little People’ is a delight to handle, eye-catching in appearance, and quite remarkably authentic in the sounds it produces.’

(Peter Haining, Movable Books An Illustrated History, New English Library Ltd., 1979)


Product Code: A-5

Antique Vintage  Movable Toy Book