An 18th-century pocket library

Posted on 18th November 2020 by simonbeattie

With the Boston book fair now behind me, I’ve now got time to focus on cataloguing some recent acquisitions and thought I’d share one with you.

This is a rare eighteenth-century perspective view depicting a miniature contemporary library, complete with library users reading, discoursing, or simply admiring the shelves.  Such Guckkastendioramen (or ‘peepshows’ as they are often called in English) were ‘all produced by one publisher, Martin Engelbrecht [1684–1756] of Augsburg …  Printed on thin paper, from etched copper plates, and coloured in watercolour, Engelbrecht’s peepshow sets consisted of six, seven or eight cut-out elements – a proscenium, four or five intermediate sections representing theatrical-style wings connected at the top and bottom, and one or two interchangeable backdrops …  The sheets were produced in three formats, approximately 180 × 220 mm, 90 × 140 mm and 73 × 90 mm …  The smallest format [as here] is the rarest’ (David Robinson, ‘Augsburg Peepshows’, Print Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 2 (June 1988), pp. 188).

This is how the library takes shape:

And with a 50p coin, for scale:

Posted in

3 responses to “An 18th-century pocket library”

  1. Hallo, Simon,

    this is really a beautiful piece of work!

    Best wishes, Reinhard

  2. Evan Baker says:

    Engelbrecht peepshows are wonderful!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *