mbs

about the movable
book society

Introduction to MBS

Join the
Movable Book Society

Meggendorfer Prize winners

Movable Stationery
Read a sample issue

Brooklyn Pops Up!
Exhibit in 2000

after the conference

MBS in Boston, MA 2016

MBS in Philadelphia, PA 2014

An Electrifying Conference
Salt Lake City, Utah 2012

The Movable Book Society
Conference-A First 1996

Convention Roundup
Los Angeles, CA 1998

Dear Diary
MBS Meets in NYC '00

MBS Grows Up
Milwaukee, WI
2002

With a Song in Our Hearts
San Diego, CA 2004

Open House
Chicago, IL 2006

Partisans and Pop-ups
Washington, DC 2008

Magic and Passion
Portland, Oregon 2010

 

Open House
Chicago, IL 2006

By Ellen G.K. Rubin
(reprinted from Movable Stationary Vol. No. 2006)

It’s a big event and you decide to have a party, an Open House. You invite dear friends and family and they in turn invite their friends and family. Before you know it, your abode is bursting at the seams with wall-to-wall people. And that’s how we were on Thursday night, September 14, 2006 at the Essex Inn in downtown Chicago. As the light faded on Michigan Avenue and the Lake beyond, a helix of people snaked the length of the meeting room.

“Welcome to the 6th Biannual Movable Book Society’s Conference,” Ann Montanaro announced in her loudest, attention-getting librarian’s voice. Our instructions were to line up to sign in for the Conference and receive the Welcome Packets Ann had painstakingly prepared. Our own Perle Mesta-The hostest with the mostest!-Ann sauntered around the packed room saying, ‘Hello’ to each attendee, offering suggestions for our new Silent Auction to her daughter, Abby Montanaro Ranson, answering queries by the volunteers who were giving out the packets, and showing me her bulging eyes which said, ‘How are we going to fit everyone in here?!!!’ Our usual attendance of about 70 people was rapidly growing, and we were dangerously approaching the Fire Code limits of the room-the only one available to us in the hotel.

Like Ms. Mesta, Ann, with our Program Director Frank Gagliardi, had assembled the crème de la crème in Society, the Movable Book Society that is, to give presentations at the Conference. The ‘faithful’ were coming from all corners of the Earth. We had members from as far away as the Philippines, London, and Spain. This being the Midwest, we were happy to welcome travelers from distant California and Vermont as well. Those on line were rewarded with camaraderie and a program guide outlining the exciting presentations to come over the next two days. One clever idea was to have the nametags reflect those who were veterans of Conferences past. Each of us who had attended before was given a red dot to put on our nametag. [Was this the harbinger of something to come later?] Some competitive but proud individual came up with the idea of putting the number of conferences attended on the red dot. I boldly wrote a 6 on mine, all of them! Lucky me! It was hoped that those with red dots would open conversations with those without them and would thereby make the newbies comfortable and feel included in our ‘family.’ I think the idea worked admirably if one could judge from the din in the room.

It was a balmy day in Chicago, perfect for walking the few blocks to Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts where we were scheduled to be treated to a delicious exhibition, A Movable Feast: Pop-ups, Volvelles, Tunnels, Flaps and Other Movable Books. Belying the non-descript building housing the Center, the 2nd floor was spanking new with wide-open, well-lit spaces. One room with printing presses around the periphery and worktables in the center had a large area filled with luscious finger-food. We spread out as best and as fast as we could.
But the real feast was ‘The Movable’ one lovingly prepared by curator, Bill Drendel. Mile-high tall, skyscraper slim, and grinning ear-to-ear, Bill welcomed us. He had created an exhibition expounding on The Process of making movable books. The material he had gathered was influential on the history of pop-ups.

Creatively displayed along the corridors and in free-standing vitrines were books, original art, letters, and working drawings representing the work of paper engineers who for most of us are household names, Ib Penick, Ron Van der Meer, John Strejan, Kees Moerbeek, Tor Lokvig, and others. These were from the collection of John Railing, the charismatic Chicago lawyer and marketer, and celebrated magician. It was magic how John had accumulated seminal material of pop-ups from the pioneers. His long-standing association with Ib Penick, who had engineered much of the Random House series of the 1970s, gave John a unique perspective on the field’s infancy. Clusters of collectors gathered around John and peppered him with questions. For example, in the first Random House book, Bennett Cerf’s Silly Riddles, there is the riddle, “How does one divide 16 apples among 19 people?” Lift-the-flap and the answer appears, “You make applesauce.” But who are the group of rascally ‘apple-pickers’ standing beneath the tree? John identified the caricatures as Wally Hunt, Ib Penick, John Strejan, Tor Lokvig, and Akihito Shirakawa, the illustrator of many of the books. Here’s why you have to come to the Conference to be ‘in-the-know!

With Penick, John produced one of the most difficult pop-up ads for Benson & Hedges Cigarettes. Appearing in Sports Illustrated Magazine in the 1980s, about 7.5 million ads were produced over 12 weeks. Ib was able to get the cigarette package to realistically bulge out of a pocket. The item the group found most interesting was Ib’s notes to the pop-up producers in Cali, Columbia detailing not only how the assembly tables should be set up but what questions to ask prospective hirees for assembly jobs.

Another case showed the working mock-ups for Robert Sabuda’s Winter’s Tale and Encyclopedia Prehistorica: Dinosaurs. Studying them felt like looking behind the magic curtain.

Forgive me my bias, but the best of all was standing arm in arm with my ‘sister in pop-ups’, Dagmar Kubaštova Vrkljan, under the red and yellow sign, Vojtěch Kubašta. It hung over the entrance to an entire gallery alive with the art, ephemera, and pop-up books of the man John Railing calls ‘The Grandfather of Pop-ups.’ Bill Drendel reassembled almost all of the items which had been in the Bienes Center exhibit in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida last March. Carefully selected from Dagmar’s and my collection, the material highlighted Kubašta’s artistic process. Members who had been unable to get to Florida appreciated its re-creation and the presence of Dagmar, Docent Extraordinaire.

John, Robert, Dagmar, and I answered questions about our contributions. The exhibit visit was a relaxed and intimate start to our Open House.
Friday dawned bright and sunny and found the members seeking seats in the ballroom. Red dots were sprinkled liberally among the round tables. Most of the presenters at the Conference were not of the age to have grown up with computers. Using PowerPoint technology meant leaving the relative safety of slides behind. We all dreaded ‘The Glitch.” For my talk, Paris to Penick-700 Years of Paper Engineering, I was Girl Scout-prepared with several CDs, cables and my computer. The technical ‘miracles’ I performed, Apianus’ Astronomicum Caesareum [1540] volvelles turning, Dean’s Little Red Ridinghood scene standing up, and Kubašta’s Here Comes the Circus’ lion tamer putting his head in the lion’s mouth were all courtesy of CBS Sunday Morning TV and Japanese Public TV, professionals who had produced these videos. The segments got into my presentation with a lot of help from ‘My Boys’ at the Genius Bar at my local Apple store. I can’t do a thing without them.

With all these bells and whistles, I was able to trace the historical arc of pop-up and movable books from Matthew Paris’ 13th century volvelle Easter calendar to modern artist books with movables. With all of us now firmly grounded in our history, we were ready to move on.

And move on Paul Wehr did. At our last conference, he poetically detailed his father, Julian Wehr’s life. He first told us that the University of Virginia, where Wehr’s archives are housed, has produced a 3 CD set entitled, An Artist’s Life Through the Eyes of His Children. The CDs are not commercially available as yet. Now with his wife, Christiane, his ‘Everything-Else Officer,’ he was going to give us but a taste of both his Dad’s genius and what it’s like to be an assembler. Wehr Animations has reproduced two of Wehr’s books. One version of The Animated Bunny’s Tail is unassembled. Paul told us his father’s first patent for moving pictures in book form was in 1937. Coming out of the Depression, children needed diversions. Wehr produced 30 titles in 5 years. The books were primarily assembled by women.

We each received an unassembled book and were given the rules. “Remember sandbox days.” “Play well with others.” But most important of all, ”Follow directions. You’ll be glad you did.” And he was right. Some of us ‘self-starters’ blundered early. Many had to deal with the ‘hanging chads’ that the punch-outs produced. As is unique to our workshops, the circulating paper engineers in attendance came to our rescue. There was a collective nod of agreement when someone said, “This is so great. Now I understand how these work.” Humbling experience indeed!

The Wehrs were followed by another husband and wife team, Ana Maria Ortega and her architect husband, Alvaro Gutierrez, both of Palencia, Spain. Sixteen years ago they had spent their honeymoon in Chicago, and they seemed delighted to return. They are active collectors of movable books. In heavily accented but good English, Ana Maria and Alvaro described the 12 exhibits they have mounted in Spain and Morocco showing off their collection. Alvaro has created exhibit cases that allow for movement of the books within the cases. Their books, difficult to find in Spain, reflect Spanish history and culture. Ramon Llul, the Catalan mystic who used volvelles to collate information from the natural and spiritual world, was represented with a facsimile of his Ars Magna.

The couple divides their exhibitions by themes and supports them with activities to show off the books’ movement. They provide for their attendees guided tours, conferences, games and puzzles. There is much attention to history and particularly, the history of art. They talked about Da Vinci’s exploration of perspective and how it was exploited later by Escher, DuChamp, and others. As examples, they showed books with holograms, 3D pictures, Magic Eye and moiré effect. All of this was set to music creating an educational as well as entertaining presentation. The ‘show’ closed with examples of Alvaro’s buildings, intentionally or not, influenced by his work with pop-ups. One of the Spanish couples’ goals is to introduce children to the art world via pop-ups. They are well-along the right path.

What’s an Open House without food? Platters and platters of sandwiches and salad were carried in for our gustatory delight. We brought our plates to our tables and prepared to learn more about our new friends. When we had a chance we could begin to look at the items available for the Silent Auction. Paying $5 for the right to bid, we were each given a secret code letter in the form of a Scrabble tile. There were copies of the Celebration book, original art by Vojtěch Kubašta, the catalog from Brooklyn Pops Up! and numerous smaller items, some rare, some more readily available. All had been donated by our generous members to raise money for The Movable Book Society.

Chuck Fischer, called ‘a true Renaissance man,’ brought a different esthetic to our group. While schooled in the Fine Arts as many of our mambers are, Chuck is known his designs for the home, including murals, fabrics, wallpaper and china. He is not a paper engineer. When he had a contract to write Great American Houses and Gardens for Rizzoli, he called upon David Hawcock to do the paper engineering. Chuck’s talk was entitled, Building a Pop-up Book and he likened publishing the book to renovating or building a home. His analogy was quite apt.

Both publishing and building require:
1. Collaboration + Staying on Schedule
2. Choosing a publisher = Choosing a site.
3. Mock up for book and cover = Floor Plans and Elevations
4. Publisher =Review Board
They decide if the project goes forward
5. Paper Engineer = Contractor
6. Paper Engineer/Editor = Production Manager
They keep everyone on schedule.
7. Photos + Text + Original Art = Interior Design
8. Books shipped to stores, catalogs, and gift shops = Moving Day
9. Book signings = Open House
[A list of book signings appear on Chuck’s website http://www.chuckfischer.com/new.htm]

After three books with David Hawcock, Chuck wanted to work with someone in closer proximity to him. Serendipitously, Chuck received the pop-up invitation to the exhibit, Ideas in Motion at SUNY Purchase in NY last year. Bruce Foster had done the paper engineering, and Chuck consulted with Bruce. Chuck’s latest book, Christmas Around the World, is due out Fall 2007 and will be engineered by Foster. Each of the spreads will be “tradition specific.” For example, the Fabergé eggs produced as Christmas presents for the tsars will represent Russia. The research for the book was done at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in NYC. He thought they had “a great collection of pop-up books.”

Throughout Chuck’s talk, Bruce stood nearby to add comments and details. Q & A was vigorous with artists asking about Chuck’s technique and materials-mostly acrylic and latex. “Whatever works,” was his reply. Rizzoli was “always counting glue-points.” Bruce clarified that fewer glue points and nesting sheets translated to cheaper books. In response to a question about the use of landmarks and icons, Chuck outlined the immense work required in all his books to get permissions. Many fees were paid. “This is PR,” he added.

As Chuck and Bruce left the podium, I overheard a fellow attendee saying, “I’m so glad I came!” To which someone added, “I love the enthusiasm.”

Many of us collectors key in on the mechanics of a movable book and take the artwork, subject, and text as secondary. To focus on the history of various mechanics, we had ‘Uncle Larry’ Seidman known for pulling incredibly unique movables out of his pockets. Considering he was to talk about the technical aspects of movables, it was strange to hear him apologize in advance for what would be his first PowerPoint presentation. He was determined to show us the movables…..well? moving. And he did.

He started out with an articulated Violin Master, much like one done by Lothar Meggendorfer. We refer to Meggendorfer as the Genius of the First Golden Era of Pop-ups partly because of his use of rivets. But this Violin Master had been made 50 years earlier than Meggendorfer’s. Larry pointed out that one can date movables by the technology used. The Industrial Revolution first made copper then steel wire available for rivets taking the place of the linen strings used up until then.

Early optical toys were an attempt to recreate ‘Persistence of Vision,’ defined as ‘a visual phenomenon where an image is retained in the eye for a short period of time, creating an illusion of continuous motion.’ Larry had several optical toys to demonstrate. In the early 1800s, automatons, mechanical devices that mimicked human behavior, were all the rage. There was a similar pursuit of life-like movement in the books of that time.

Larry explained to us about Biedermeier cards. Produced from 1810-1840, these love poems resembling baseball cards were hand-cut and assembled, often by the consumer. Some sets are sequentially numbered. We ‘oohed and aahed’ over the variety of mechanisms demonstrated. They have survived because they were made of rag paper with linen or silk strings. Unlike the books that were copper engraved, the cards’ artwork was reproduced by stone-lithography. These movable cards and figures presumably pre-date their use in books. Many of the Nister mechanisms only appeared on valentines and never made it into their books. As his last comment on cards overall, he told us, “A lot of [them] have much to do with drinking.”

At the beginning of Meggendorfer’s career, about 1880, his books were hand-colored. By the end of his career, they were chromolithographed. We craned forward to see Meggendorfer’s Shadow Theater. The silhouetted figures, lit from behind, give a striking appearance. The book is quite rare.

This use of light and shadow led us into the grand finale, a rapid overview of diverse mechanics: a panoramic card fire screen, a 19th century Jacob’s Ladder, an 18th century Engelbrecht peepshow of a synagogue, roller screen mechanisms, automatons with magnets, and finally, a thaumatrope. All these and more were in pursuit of Persistence of Vision, the harbingers of motion pictures and video. When asked about how he came to have such a collection, Larry recited the mantra of collecting: Vision, Patience, Money. Like a one-man-band, the collection of Larry Seidman is total entertainment illuminated by his vast knowledge.

Emily Martin, book artist, gave us a window into the imaginings then realization of her artist book, Sleepers, Dreamers & Screamers. She called her talk, Starting, stopping, and finally finishing my circuitous route to my newest pop-up book. The preliminary ‘story’ explored the nature of nightmares and reality. Pre-9/11, Emily started thinking of the book’s format as a carousel. But it didn’t come together. She dropped the project after 9/11 and sought one that was more like comfort food, 8 Slices of Pie. She acknowledged it as a way to ‘avoid’ the Sleepers book. But the Sleepers idea persisted and she picked it up again solving numerous problems, especially one with a tippy canoe on a river. [Sorry. You really had to be there to witness the difficulties presented and to share in Emily’s hilarious false starts. I’ve called her, ‘The Erma Bombeck of Pop-ups.’ Remember?] Despite the difficulties she encountered, Emily was glad that as her own publisher, Naughty Dog Press, she “doesn’t have to count glue-points.” To aid in making editions of Sleepers…[15], Emily uses templates and guides. For ease of display, she used an accordion format. When asked in Q&A how does she decide how many books to make, she answered, “As many times as I can stand to do it!”

I thought I could catch a bite between activities with my STARVING, neglected but indulgent husband, Harold, who accompanied me to a conference for the first time. It wasn’t to be. There in the hotel lobby was Uncle Larry up to his old tricks, demonstrating more of his unique movables. Like metal shavings lined up in front of a magnet and hunched over and so engrossed they never noticed me or my camera was Robin Sutton, Bruce Foster, Maria Winkler, Kyle Olmon, Tom Hayes, Eric Faden, Andy Baron, Grace Co and several others who came and went. We were the Dirty Dozen, wide-eyed with the erotica Larry manipulated so agilely. [Sorry, no images in this family-friendly newsletter.] For more than an hour, he kept pulling rare mechanisms in small formats out of a ‘Pandora’s Box’ astounding us. Where does he find this stuff??!!!!

With a bag of chips secreted in my purse, Harold and I crept past the sign ‘No Food Allowed’ into the state-of-the-art auditorium back at Columbia College. Shawn Sheehy, whom we first met at the San Diego Conference, introduced the stars of the evening’s activity, Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart.

Robert began with a brief bio recounting his early love of pop-ups and his failed effort to make a tornado for The Wizard of Oz. His childhood photos were fun to see. [He was a cute little towhead.] Next Matthew [also a cutie] gave us his bio emphasizing his love of Star Wars. After having surgery, he had been given Random House’s Dinosaurs, his first exposure to pop-up books. Matthew’s aptitude for art showed early but Dad admonished, “Artists don’t make money.” Matthew was bribed with a car and condo to be a doctor but would not be deterred and instead attended Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY where he met Robert.

Robert professorially described the process of conceiving, executing, producing, and publishing their individual and partnered pop-up books. Matthew, with frequent interruptions, would step to the microphone to give his version of the story. Without any artifice, the two staged their own ‘George Burns and Gracie Allen’ skit. They had the crowd roaring with laughter. What a change in Matthew who had years ago spoken to us quite seriously. A bit of stage-fright, I presume? Now in a studio in New York with five designers, Robert and Matthew are free to create their books….and even use flocking and foil wherever they want to!

Chicago is a quiet city at night, and it was easy to have a good night’s sleep. Rejuvenated, we started Saturday, our last full day, with Ann going over the business end of the Movable Book Society. First, she strongly encouraged members to write for Movable Stationery, our quarterly newsletter. Since there is an editor to help with articles, writers should not pass up the opportunity to share their collections, experiences, and knowledge because of concerns about style and grammar. Second, we were reminded to consider the books up for the Meggendorfer Award and to get our bids in for the Silent Auction. Finally, to facilitate choosing future conference sites, Ann requested the names of libraries we could visit that had significant collections of movable books.

Another first-time PowerPoint presenter was Joan Sommers with her Product Manager, Amanda Freyman. They had the fortitude to overcome all their technical glitches having toughened up when learning to produce tunnel books. Joan, clever girl, has found the secret to life, commercial life that is-a niche! It all started with the 2004 Chicago Art Institute’s exhibition Seurat and the Making of “La Grand Jatte.“ Joan saw the painting as a perfect candidate for a tunnel book, flat subject, easy to outline and create layers, and, best of all, “Seurat was long dead [with no] estate to deal with.” The venture required her to learn many things:

Cultural institutions have no money to support commercial projects-raise your own.

Institutions must be paid for the use of images.
The difference between toys vs. books. If the object has a spine, it’s a book, hence, no tariff. Tunnel books have 2 spines!
Protect books from rough handling during distribution and use. Provide a plastic envelope and put cardboard dividers between sections.
Packaging must show consumers what a tunnel book is. Joan and Amanda had to manually paste illustrated stickers on all the books at the warehouse.

The tunnel book sold well. Encouraged, they published one on the jungle themes of Henri Rousseau for another Art Institute exhibit, and still again another based on "Day of the Dead" by José Guadalupe Posada. Not inadvertently, both Rousseau and Posada are also long dead. By now Joan is well along the learning curve with many new books in the works. Tying her tunnel books to exhibitions now seems so easy. “Why,” she asked, “hasn’t it been done before?”

As if we weren’t humbled enough yesterday trying to assemble Julian Wehr’s Animated Bunny movable, Andy Baron was brought in to crush us entirely. “Wehr was just the warm up,” he said with a mischievous grin. We would make an original movable as a souvenir of the Conference. We cut, folded, creased, inserted, and glued to Andy’s detailed specifications. Need an example? Andy: “Twist the glue bottle open to 8 o’clock, NOT 4 o’clock.” Robert Sabuda could be seen taking extra care with his production. He swore he would never make a pull-tab for his books. Of course, many of the paper engineers were there to help us. At our table, Kyle Olmon patiently re-cut and refolded many. Thank you, Andy! I’m proud of my souvenir, one of an edition of 115, and more appreciative than ever of paper engineers like you.

I remember seeing mariapw come up as a bidder on eBay and shuddering. She would be fierce competition for pop-up books! Now I know why I had reason to quake. Maria Winkler (aka mariapw on eBay) talked to us about how she buys and sells pop-up books on the auction site. I have to give her credit for candor. [Well, she didn’t go so far as to tell us how she searches ‘misspellings’ to find books.] She didn’t shirk from telling us about eSnipe, the software that allows buyers to slip their bid in seconds before the close of an auction. Who would expect stealth from this soft-spoken art teacher from California? But lest one thinks Maria has ‘cloak-and-dagger’ moves, her Feedback on eBay is 100% positive. She’s doing something right!

Before our lunch break, we were warned to complete our bids on the Silent Auction. Here stealth was in evidence as the secret codes were applied to the lengthening lists of bidders. Whatever anyone wins, it’s clear MBS will come out a winner!

One might expect an archival restorer to fit the description of Marion the Librarian, dowdy and dour. Not so Robin Sutton the perky fashionable archivist recently transplanted to Vermont. Hearing about her penchant for tedious tasks, namely the extremely detailed work required for repairing antiquarian movable books, those of us with books to repair must thank our lucky stars for professionals like her. While living in Northampton, Massachusetts, Robin came under the tutelage of Bill Streeter who later “wanted out.” After taking up Bill’s business, in walked Larry Seidman with Meggendorfers to repair. She ‘fell in love’ with Meggendorfer’s books immediately. For 10 years she has been ‘taking them apart then mentally rebuilding them” using just a few tools and her own two hands. Just as she finished outlining her modus operandi, the projector started flickering. [Another glitch!] Based on her hard-to-believe experiences, she finished by telling us “What Not to Do to Your Books, Please!”

No tape, especially of the duct type.
No stitching, staples, string, or cloth repairs
No postage stamps, tape, or reinforcements.

If you love the book, give it to a professional for repair. Enough said!

Talk about a glitch! Frank Gagliardi, the host of our Open House, was about to give his presentation about his collection of movable catalogs, greeting and business cards, cartoons, and invites when the projector light blew! Not fair! Frank had worked so tirelessly on the whole program, he deserved better. He managed, however, to impart the wonderful additions to his collection. “Collecting is in the genes,” he said.

Imagine now your host and hostess begin a game of musical chairs. The orderly Open House becomes a bit chaotic with moving furniture, and circulating people. It’s time for the Sale, Swap, and Signings. Book vendors set up their books, old, new, and artistic. Paper engineers uncap their Sharpies. Money changes hands. Arms wrap themselves around new treasures. Cameras get passed around for photo-ops. Exhausting but fun! Linda Costello finally got the opportunity to set up her GIANT books. She translates her personal humor perfectly into her pop-ups. Now it’s time to rest before dinner and our very last night together.

There was a form of Musical Chairs after all! Robert Sabuda had brought the designers from his office to the Conference, and they switched tables with every course at dinner giving everyone the opportunity to meet each other. Frank got us settled down for the last presentations. “I’m herding cats!” he muttered under his breath. Those last minute conversations would have to wait.

John Railing, our keynote speaker, sat down to our table with sheaves of paper cascading from files. “I’ve so much to tell you,” he warned us. So much, indeed! Living the life of a factotum, John has had a finger in the widest variety of jobs one can imagine, from lawyer to magician, financial advisor to magazine salesman. He’s been around. Most important to us was his collecting tastes which went from First editions to Edward Gorey to Pop-ups, of course! It was collecting Gorey, specifically The Dwindling Party, which brought him into contact in 1988 with pop-ups and Ib Penick. It was not long after that, through Ib, John met Wally Hunt.

In the early 60s, Ib worked for Wally’s company, Intra-Graphics making pop-up holiday centerpieces for Gibson Greeting Cards. Later, Hallmark Cards ordered 100,000 of the centerpieces. A close friend of Wally, Elgin Davis, had an art service and invested $50,000 in Wally’s next new venture, Graphics International.

Penick interviewed Tor Lokvig in 1962 and later hired Art Leonardi away from Warner Animators. After Wally met William Wrigley [of chewing gum fame], Graphics International produced pop-up Wrigley ads for Jack and Jill Magazine between 1964 and 1967. During those years, Ib, Tor, and Art lived in NYC while Wally lived in Scarsdale, NY. Gerald Harris joined the company as sales manager. Harris, a friend of Chris Cerf, son of Bennett Cerf, facilitated the collaboration between Graphics International (GI) and Random House. 50,000 copies of Silly Riddles were printed.

Unbeknownst to Ib and causing some ill-will, Wally sold GI to Hallmark Cards and the whole gang moved to Kansas City, Missouri. In Kansas City, Ib was able to school Howard Lohnes, Bruce Baker, and Dick Dudley in the art of paper enginering. All went on to work on many of the books we treasure from the 1970s and 80s.

One of Ib’s greatest contributions was the launching of hand-assembly plants for mass-produced pop-up books. The material in the exhibit had given us a bird’s-eye-view of how he did it. The initial printing for the Random House series was done in Japan and assembled in Taiwan. In 1968, printing and assembly moved to Tien Wah Press in Singapore. A plant was briefly used in Sri Lanka in 1972-73. Even briefer was the production plant built in Jamaica for Random House. In this Caribbean setting, Ib attempted to produce his pop-up typewriter book that could actually type 3-letter words. But the task was too ambitious and was abandoned along with the plant. Finally, production and printing was moved to Cali, Columbia.

John seemed to be in well-deserved awe of Ib Penick describing the pioneer’s landmark work, including a patent for a paper disposable camera. [Penick’s name is not on the patent. Kodak came out with a disposable camera after the patent expired.] Intervisual’s growth, attributed to Wally’s acumen and Ib’s talent, was summed up by noting that the first Random House books had print runs of 3000 while the last, specifically Star Wars, had over 600,000.

John had barely made a dent in his files, and we were on information overload. The fidgeting was palpable. We will have to ask John to continue his saga, our history, another time. [An article for Movable Stationery, perhaps?] We had to move on to the last order of business, the announcement of the winners of the Silent Auction and, tah dah!!! The Meggendorfer Award.

Ann ran through the names of the auction winners and the sums they owed for the books they had bought. There had barely been a few weeks to put this together and yet the Auction had taken in a total of $2035. [Thank you, Abby!] Imagine our next Conference’s auction. Start putting aside those desirable items today.

We will never know if all those red dots on our nametags were a subliminal message. Or maybe they were an omen. In any case, I was given the privilege of announcing that David A. Carter’s One Red Dot had won the 2006 Meggendorfer Award. Alas, David wasn’t able to make this Conference and so didn’t hear the thundering applause for his achievement.

Without hearing the music for The Party’s Over, we still knew it was time to go. The Open House had come to an end. But the excitement generated from our stay in Chicago will have us all looking in our mailboxes for another invitation, looking forward to meeting friends old and new. Another open house in two years? What about Toronto? Eh?


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