Home > Movable Book History Articles > The Moving Picture Books and the Pictorial Color Book Company

Fun and educational article - for non-commercial purposes only, not a description of a particular book for sale.

This essay by vintagepopupbooks.com is licensed under a Creative CommonsAttribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on research by vintagepopupbooks.com.
(You may use any information on this site as long as it references vintagepopupbooks.com as the source and includes a link to the same.)

The Mysterious Moving Picture Books Publishers

by: Vintagepopupbooks.com

The Moving Picture Books are appealing books with charming illustrations and colorful movable pages. These books are usually 10 pages with story text and four full-page tab-movable color plates (each with two movements) nd four usually black and white illustrations. For detailed information about each of the books, their foreign language editions, and more descriptions see Theo Gielen’s article in the May 2011 edition of Movable Stationary. Our article will attempt to delve deeper into some of the publishing history of this series, particularly the English versions. Still sought after and admired by collectors today, there is limited information on the details concerning the creation and distribution of these charming books.

The first English books in the series appear to have been published as early as 1909. Most early American books from this series were published by Sully and Kleinteich (S&K) and sold for 35 cents. After S&K, the books were published in the early 1920’s by both The New York Book Company (rare to find) and the Pictorial Color Book Company (PCBC who sold them for 50 cents. (Note that Theos’s article stated that some of the observed English editions do not have any publisher's imprint at all, and at least one has been found with the London imprint of The "Alpha" Publishing Co. Ltd.)

Alpha Publishing label attached to " Make Belief Of Funny Beasts" by The Pictorial Moving Picture Books.
Image from the vinagepopupbooks.com collection. While we have seen these books with either Alpha, Sully, New York Book Company, or Pictorial Moving Picture Books - this is the first one that we have seen imprinted Pictorial Moving Picture Books with an Alpha label glued to the back. More Alpha Publishing information can be found below. It's worth noting that it was not uncommon for publishers to license and reprint popular books from other publishers, and the Moving Picture Books series was no exception.

The S&K books are listed in several 1914 references. One of these was “The Dial" volume LVI January 1914. These books, like many others of the time, were printed in Bavaria which was one of the top centers of chromolithographic printing at the time. We believe that G. Löwensohn publishing in Bavaria was quite possibly the inventor of these books. Löwensohn would have printed them in Germany to the specs of the publishers representing the books in different countries – including S&K. Many of the images in these books originally dated from before 1914. They were first printed/published by Loewensohn as standard illustrations in picture books and were mostly produced for foreign publishers
The first American Sully and Kleinteich copies published as The Moving Picture Books for Children that we were able to find in old reference books (dated 1914) were: (923 x 18.5 cm., with four pull-tab plates printed on glazed paper mounted on pages of a lesser quality paper, and
accompanied by our pages of text, sometimes with additional uncolored text illustrations)

Little Red Riding Hood
The Night Before Christmas
Puss In Boots
The Performing Bears
The Circus

Below are some interesting observations about the publishing imprints on some of these books:

There is no publisher imprint on the cover of Little red riding Hood pictured above. The publisher's imprint on the title page has been covered with a PCBC sticker.

The Night Before Christmas - Early Moving Picture Book edition without the S&K imprint on the cover but with it on the title page.

Three imprint versions of Puss In Boots :

Assumed early S&K edition. No publisher listed but a title page with the publisher (possibly Sully and Kleinteich like the Nigth Before Christmas example above but we don’t know for sure) pasted over with Pictorial Color Book Company, Inc. New York.

later S&K edition with the cover S&K imprint blacked out by PCBC and a pasted-over title page.
The S&K imprint is still visible under the blackout. It has a neat name and inscription “John Kistler 1920-1921." We have two copies of ‘The Moving Picture Books‘ with “Sully & Kleinteich New York” inked out in exactly the same way.

Actual PCBC printed edition, with Pictorial Color Book Company printed on both cover and title page.
This "Puss In Boots" book pictured contains the same cover image but with the heading above the title and picture naming “The Pictorial Moving Picture Books” and at the bottom listing “Pictorial Color Book Company, Inc. New York” and the number 51 in a small circle. Printed in Bavaria now appears at the bottom of the final page and Made in Germany appears in small print on the rear board. Except for these variations, the layout and text fonts are the same. There are some quality differences, however. This one is stapled rather than sewn like the S&K published ones pictures above. The paper and printing quality are also not as good on the PCBC version.

Another book, The Performing Bears, has the full PCBC information with the number 52 in a small circle probably printed shortly after the last Puss in Boots. The title page now has a different font and larger print throughout. The ‘printed in Bavaria’ remains but ‘Made in Germany’ no longer appears. It has a gift inscription dated Xmas 1922, one year following the Puss in Boots dated inscription. When PCBC published its own versions it changed the heading from “The Moving Picture Books” to “The Pictorial Moving Picture Books”. See the images above of Puss in Boots as well as The Performing Bears which shows this change. They also changed the imprint on the title page and moved Printed in Bavaria from the cover to the last page.

We have tried to research the complex publication and distribution history of these desirable books as published by Sully and Kleinteich, The New York Book Company, The Alpha Publishing Group, and The Pictorial Moving Book Co.

Alpha Publishing CO, LTD

The Alpha Publishing Company (Later called Alphalsa) was located at 2&4 Scutten Street, Finsbury Street, London E.C. . They also had a buying office on 5th Avenue in New York. They were known primarily for Christmas Cards. postcards, and calendars. Besides also publishing a series of these "mechanical" books, they also published other children's novelty books including books for cutting out and fixing together, Magic Books which contained pages printed in black and white outlines that turned to color when touched with a wet brush, and another with blank pages are turned into pictures when a pencil or Crayon was rubbed on the surface.

The Bookseller: A Newspaper of British and Foreign Literature 1923 page 103 states:
The Alpha publishing co., Ltd., 2 and 4, Scrutton Street, E.C.2, have this season produced a variety of Picture Books and Painting Books, to retail from as. to 6d. each. The principal line is The Little Arithmetician , very finely litho- graphed in full colours, giving simple lessons for young children in attractive form. Another attractive series are the Mechanical Books, each containing four Moving Pictures, to retail at 1s 6D. and the Expanding Toy Books, showing Animals, Birds and Children on stiff boards.

The company was established circa 1910 under the name Alfred Striebel & Co. It was later renamed as Alpha Publishing Co in approximately 1915, Finally, in 1923, it underwent another name change and was officially registered as the Alpha Publishing Co Ltd.

Little else is known about the publisher but old Law records indicate that his name was
Edmund William Horobin (1871 - 1958). Wikietree noted Edmund as being a Letterpress Printer who was born in Kidderminster, Worcester. Husband of Bertha Harris (Taylor) Horobin — married about 1902 in Chorlton, Lancashire, England with 4 children.

Alphalsa Publishing Co. - The limited company was dissolved before 1950 and its records were destroyed in July 1963.

New York Book Company:

The New York Book Company was founded in the late 1800s and operated until the mid-1920s when it merged with the Pictorial Color Book Company. The merger allowed the Pictorial Color Book Company to expand its publishing operations and strengthen its position as a leading publisher of children's books.
An article in Bookseller and Stationer, Volume 54 1921 page 230 describes how “The New York Book Company had a good selling novelty in their Moving Picture Books”. It goes on to describe one of the movable pages in “The Night Before Christmas”. New York Book Company copies are rare. This 1921 article tells us that at least some of those published by the New York Book Company were published around 1921. The New York Book Company (NYBC) was incorporated on November 11, 1908, as a subsidiary of The Trow Press. The Trow Press was a full-service printer and bookbinder that had been in business since the mid-1800’s. It appears that NYBC was created as a publishing subsidiary of The Trow Press for the sole purpose of distributing inexpensive children’s books. In 1920 NYBC advertised itself as publishers of picture puzzles, toy books, juvenile books, and novelties. Any manufacturing or printing was done by the parent company, Trow Press. The manager of NYBC was Arthur J. Zerbe. Mr. Zerbe sold his interest in NYBC and moved to California in 1921. The company itself did not dissolve until 1929. File notes from the New York Secretary of State’s office indicate it went out of business due to non-payment of taxes. While incorporation papers were made in 1908, we have found reference to Trow’s New York Book Company well before that. There is a long account of 1888 litigation against the two companies in 1891’s The New York State Reporter: Containing All the Current Decisions of the Courts of Record of New York State, pages 617-620.

We know that in 1869 New York Book Company was located at No. 145 Nassau Street from at least 1869

New York City Directories from 1908-1921 list 4 addresses for the NYBC:

1 – 202 East 12th Street (1908 – 1909)
2- 147 4th Ave. (1909 – 1915)
3- 201 East 12th street (1915 - 1919)
4- 44 East 23rd Street Rear 918 (1920 & 1921)


Sully & Kleinteich was a publishing company based in New York City that was active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The company was founded by George Sully and Herman Kleinteich, who were both involved in the publishing industry before they joined forces. Sully had previously worked for a company that specialized in reprinting British books for the American market, while Kleinteich had worked as a salesman for a lithographic printing company.
Sully & Kleinteich became known for publishing high-quality children's books, including many that were illustrated by famous artists such as Arthur Rackham, Kate Greenaway, and Walter Crane. They were also known for their "Moving Picture Books," which featured illustrations with movable parts that could be manipulated to create the illusion of motion. These books were first published in English as early as 1909 and were later sold by other companies such as the Pictorial Color Book Company.
The company was headed by George Sully and Herman Kleinteich. Both men were very experienced in the book trade when they joined forces. Sully, originally from Canada, had been head salesman for Little, Brown, & Co. (Fun fact: Sully was such a good salesman that in 1895 he was chairman of “The Brotherhood of Commercial Travelers." The annual meeting of the Brotherhood, which consisted of traveling salesmen for publishers, included vaudeville entertainment and athletic club privileges.) Herman Kleinteich also had book trade experience. He was previously a buyer for several book companies. SULLY AND KLEINTEICH published a line of books, novels, juveniles, and calendars.

Effective February 1, 1918, the firm officially changed its name from SULLY AND KLEINTEICH to “GEORGE SULLY & COMPANY”. (This indicates that all their movable books were published between 1914 and January 1918 only as all that we have seen have just the Sully & Kleinteich imprint.) See some examples of novelty children’s books from George Sully & Co. at the end of this article.
According to a 1918 book reference, S&K changed the name “due to prejudice during the war regarding names of German origin”. (Such as Kleinteich). In 1922 George Sully & Company moved to 114 East 25th Street, NY. The firm continued to be a co-partnership between the two men. George Sully passed away in 1940 at the age of 75. Herman Kleinteich passed away on September 11, 1921, at the age of 56 from “an acute attack of indigestion”. Both men’s sons, George Leonard Sully and William H. Kleinteich, at some point, took over running the business. It is interesting to note that one son; William H. Kleinteich spent five years as a salesman for the Raphael Tuck & Sons Co and then switched to McLoughlin Brothers just before joining his father’s firm. He joined S&K in 1913 at its inception and was around 27 years old at the time. At some point before 1921, S&K stopped publishing the Moving Picture Books. Since there are no copies known that have the publisher’s name of George Sully & Company, we assume that this occurred sometime before they changed their name in 1918. In February 1918, the company changed its name to "George Sully & Company" due to prejudice during the war regarding names of German origin. In 1922, the company moved to 114 East 25th Street in New York. Both men's sons, George Leonard Sully, and William H. Kleinteich, took over running the business after their fathers' deaths. William H. Kleinteich spent five years as a salesman for the Raphael Tuck & Sons Co before joining S&K. S&K stopped publishing the Moving Picture Books at some point before they changed their name in 1918. It appears that The Pictorial Color Book Company (PCBC) acquired the publishing rights and old stock of Sully & Kleinteich from George Sully & Company shortly after the death of Sully’s partner, Herman Kleinteich in 1921. George Sully & Company continued in business until it liquidated and sold all of its stock plates, and copyrights to A. L. Burt Company, New York in 1933.

George Sully

George Sully moved from Canada to Boston in 1884 to take a position with D. Lothrop & Co. In 1889 he joined commission bookseller, William B. Perkins. In 1891 he worked for himself as a commission bookseller. In 1899 he joined Little, Brown, and Co. and worked there until he and Herman formed Sully & Kleinteich in 1913.

(Image from Herman Kleinteich’s obituary dated September 19, 1921).

Kleinteich’s obituary stated that during the war prejudice against German names forced the company to drop the name Kleinteich. Though there hardly could be “sounder Americanism” than this man from Brooklyn whose father fought in the Civil War. He left a widow, one daughter, and a son who has followed him into the business. His funeral was attended by many members of the New York trade among whom; he had been a well loved figure for 40 years)

The Pictorial Color Book Company :

According to the 1920 edition of the “American Stationer and Office Manager”, Volume 86 page 13, “ The Pictorial Color Book Company (PCBC) of New York was incorporated for $10,000 by N. H. Schrifte, H. Cohen, and C.F. Koltman at 665 Hancock Street, Brooklyn NY.” It appears that PCBC acquired Sully’s stock and started publishing these books again sometime after the company was formed. We believe that PCBC was formed in late 1919 due to an article in the ‘The New York Times’ dated December 27, 1919, that lists PCBC as a “new incorporation”. We’ve found very little else about this company or its founders. We have found none of the founders in old New York phone records or obituaries. We did find a Charles F. Koltman living with a woman named Margaret Koltman on a 1919 voter registration list living at 665 Hancock Street, Brooklyn address. It appears that the PCBC’s company’s first address was the home of Mr. Koltman. We agree with Theo’s opinion that “the company has to be seen as a mere New York office of the Löwensohn printing company, established in New York to have easy access to the American market to promote and sell”

Finding a number on the cover of a Bavarian printed movable book often means a German mass-market edition, and that most often means a Löwensohn. According to Klingberg, books in other countries sold without the participation of a foreign publisher are always undated. This makes them extra difficult to date because we can’t research publisher catalogs. Löwensohn was the printer and sometimes publisher of many movables, including most likely the Moving Picture Books series by The Pictorial Color Book Company.
It is believed that PCBC was established as a New York office of the German printing company G. Löwensohn, in order to have easy access to the American market to promote and sell their products. Despite extensive research, very little is known about PCBC and its founders, and their names do not appear in old New York phone records or obituaries.Most of these books were printed for other publishers in various countries and usually did not bear a Löwensohn mark. “Printed in Bavaria” without a printer indicated often means it’s a Löwensohn. One reason that we know that Löwensohn was behind many of these movables is that French copies, for whatever reason, often had a small “G. Löwensohn Impr. Fuerth.” When no publisher mark or date appears on printed in Bavaria movables it is likely that Löwensohn marketed these books directly from Germany. During and after World War 1 the prejudice of Americans toward Germany required Löwensohn to sell their books to that market without identifying that the books came from Germany. A great example is the “publishing front” Löwensohn set up in New York called The Pictorial Color Book Company. Through PCBC, they were able to successfully sell and distribute The Pictorial Moving Picture Books in America.

A handful of other books published by PCBC can be found on the internet. Theo’s article mentioned one other movable by PCBC different than the moving picture series. It is a pop-up peepshow type book titled “Our Farmyard”. It can be seen on Aleph-bet Books online PDF catalog # 102 at www.ilab.org/catalog_view/1254/1254_cat102.pdf. Another different example recently turned up online entitled "Jolly Transformations", from The Pictorial Transformation Books - see more info and images below. Books have been found dated as late as the late 1920s. Apparently, PCBC was a short-lived company and all of their books were likely published in the 1920’s. The only sales representative we have been able to find for PCBC is S. C. Britton who represented PCBC at a book trade Field Day event in 1922. All references to The Pictorial Color Book Company end in 1923.

As indicated earlier, it’s also probable that the Pictorial Color Book Company obtained the publishing rights and old stock of these books from George Sully & Company shortly after the death of Sully’s partner, Herman Kleinteich in 1921. Since it is rare to find a S&K copy without the PCBC sticker pasted on it, we might also theorize that PCBC had more success selling this series than S&K did. From the ad below in Publishers Weekly Volume 89 R. R. Bowker Company, 1916, page 2, we know that S&K did sell remainders to the trade. It was/is not uncommon that publishers sold their titles to other companies – including resting stock.

Update: (May 6, 2020) - We have recently obtained a paper doll set entitled “Walking Doll Playmates” published by Bouillon-Sanders & Chopp in 1926. What is interesting is that this exact set was copyrighted by the Pictorial Color Book Company in 1922. We have not been able to locate this set with the Pictorial Color Book imprint and theorize that they never produced it. It's unclear whether the Pictorial Color Book Company ever published the "Walking Doll Playmates" set. The fact that it was copyrighted by the company in 1922 suggests that they had plans to publish it, but there is no record of it actually being published by them. It's possible that they sold the rights to Bouillon-Sanders & Chopp, who then published the set in 1926.

Below is an image of the Bouillon-Sanders & Chopp edition. It also has 6 sheets and measures 11 X 9

Other Pictorial Color Book Company movable Books:

New York Book Company:

The New York Book Company was founded in the late 1800s and operated until the mid-1920s when it merged with the Pictorial Color Book Company. The merger allowed the Pictorial Color Book Company to expand its publishing operations and strengthen its position as a leading publisher of children's books.

We have found at least four other similar English titles under The PCBC and New York Book Company imprint for this series. We have not found copies of these books under Sully & Kleinteich:

"Little Folks in Tabbyland" features a story about a group of kittens who go on adventures in their neighborhood. The book includes movable parts and colorful illustrations.
"A Make-belief of Funny Beasts" is a book of rhymes about imaginary animals, with colorful illustrations and movable parts.
"Hop-o-my-Thumb" is a retelling of the classic fairy tale about a boy who uses his wits to outsmart an ogre. The book includes movable parts and colorful illustrations.
"In the Motor to the Clouds" is a story about a family who takes a road trip in their car and has various adventures along the way.
Image from the collection at vintagepopupbooks.com

Image from the collection a vintagepopupbooks.com

Image from the collection a vintagepopupbooks.com

Possible titles related to this series but found without publisher names:

Cinderella Moving Picture Books

The Tale of a Young Hare. Moving Picture Books


The Farmyard Moving Picture Books
( Seen only in Alpha Bet Books catalog - published by PMBC but has pop-up type movables unlike others above)
It is an oblong book measuring 19 x 26 cm. The front cover illustration shows a hen with chickens and a colorful rooster;
the four movable plates inside have "mother-and-child" scenes: a horse with a foal, a goat with her lamb, a hen with
her chickens and the rooster, and a cow with a calf.

The Pictorial Transformation Books

As of November 2018, another Pictorial Color Book Company movable book has surfaced that we had never seen before. There is scant information available online regarding this possible series of Transformation Books called “The Pictorial Transformation Books”
The copy pictured below is a softback slice book entitled Jolly Transformations No. II. It has the number 61 in a circle next to the publishing information. Printed in Bavaria.
The book features illustrations by Mabel Lucie Attwell and is described as a "Pictorial transformation book," with pages that can be flipped to create amusing and imaginative combinations of animals and people. The book includes 24 color illustrations and a brief story to accompany each one.
The full-color illustrated pages are cut into thirds, so you can change the heads, torso, or legs on any body to make a fun new one. The left side represents a female, the right a male.
Covers and 6 pages plus covers make for hundreds of combinations. 7.5" x 1

Happily, in 2020 we were finally able to obtain the other book in this series - Jolly Transformations No. 1 ! See photos below


Jolly Transformations No. 1:

Other books in this series - not online anywhere:

"Jolly Jump-Ups: A New Trick and a Funny Transformation" (1930)
"The Transformation Toy Book" (1925)
"Funny Transformations" (1923)
"Transformations at the Zoo" (1923)

Foreign Editions:
For more details on several foreign editions see Theo Gielen’s article in the May 2011 edition of Movable Stationary. We do want to point out his comment that “A French version as Le Petit Chaperon Rouge was published by Capendu, Paris”. The French edition reveals the printing origin of the books as German printer G. Löwensohn. Imp Fürth. There is a lot of evidence that all these books were printed by Löwensohn in Fürth near Nuremberg in southern Germany. We have not seen a German edition of these books but that was not unusual for Löwensohn.

Other: picture books, coloring, and cut-out books
‘Georg Sully & Company’ did publish some other novelty and play-type titles. (The books pictured below were printed in the USA - The Lithographers were Karle & Co. out of Rochester New York.)
1918 - The Play-Day Book Full of Toys That You Can Make and Dolls That You Can Dress (contains card cut-outs) - Margaret Evans Price (illustrator)
1919 - The Animal-Toy Book Full of Educational Animal Toy Cut-Outs (contains card cut-outs) - Karle Litho. Company
1919 - Bird Cut Outs Educational Bird Toys Series (contains card cut-outs) - Karle Litho. company, Designed by W. F. Stecher

From The Animal Toy Book


Publishing British Market - Volume 48 - Page 222 1915 states: Alpha took over the firm Alfed Steibel in 1915. From : "Alfred Stiebel & Co. , the well known publishers of the " Alpha " series of post cards , pictures , calendars , and Christmas cards , this business will in future be carried on by the “ Alpha " Publishing Co."
Picture Postcards of the Golden Age: A Collector's Guide - Page 173 Tonie Holt, ‎Valmai Holt · 1971
New York Supreme court Appellate Division - Page 244 - New York buying office Apha Publishing
The Stationery Trades' Journal - Page 22 1927 - other alpha novelty books
The Law Times - Volume 159 - Page 159-356 1926 https://books.google.com › book 1925 · ‎Law HOROBIN , EDMUND WILLIAM ( trading as The Alpha Publishing Co. )
British Market - Volume 50 - Page 113 1916 - Alpha Publishing
Rehabilitation Monograph - Volumes 36-67 - Page 48 (NY book company location)
Bookseller and Stationer - Volume 54 - Page 230, 1921 (New York Book Co. publication of Moving Picture Books)
The Bookseller, Newsdealer and Stationer, Volume 44 page 680 (NYBC addresses)
The Publishers Weekly, Volume 102, Part 1 1922 (lists S C Britton represented PCBC)
G. Löwensohn, Jo Tisinger, Movable Stationary, Volume 22/Number 1.
Theo Gielen, Löwensohn and The Pictorial Moving Picture Books, Movable Stationary, Volume 19/Number 2
The Publishers Weekly, Volume 138 F. Leypoldt, 1940 - American literature (Sully Obit)
List of Enrolled Voters ...: Borough of Brooklyn New York (N.Y.). Board of Elections 1919 - Voting registers (PCBC residential address)
Bookseller and Stationer, Volume 54 1921 page 230 describes how “The New York Book Company had a good selling novelty in their Moving Picture Books”.
Modern Stationer Serving the Office Products Dealer - Volume 4, 1921 (Herman Kleinteich’s image & obituary)
The Publishers Weekly - Volume 73 - Page 960, 1908 (image and George Sully info)
Publishers Weekly - Volume 97 - Page 478, 1920 (family relationships)
Newsboy, Volume 32 Horatio Alger Society., 1994 (Sully company sale)
Horatio Alger Books Published By The New York Book Company by Bradford S. Chase. May 1999, pages 11-16 ( New York Book Company)

Theo Gielen's article "Löwensohn of Fürth: The Movable Book and Toy Publisher from Germany" in Movable Stationery, May 2011.
The website "Movable Books: A History, 1462-2008" by Ann R. Montanaro, states that "Löwensohn did business in America under the name of The Pictorial Color Book Company, which was a publishing front."

"Jolly Transformations #1": The book is listed in the Library of Congress Catalog with the following information: Attwell, Mabel Lucie. Jolly transformations. New York : Pictorial Color Book Co., c1923.

"Jolly Transformations #2": The book is listed in the British Library catalog with the following information: Attwell, Mabel Lucie. Jolly Transformations: another book of Transformations / by Mabel Lucie Attwell. Pictorial Color Book Company, 1924.