UNT Libraries Acquires Thomas J. Healey Pop-Up and Movable Book Collection

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UNT Libraries has acquired a significant collection of pop-up and movable books from collector Thomas J. Healey of Morristown, New Jersey. The Healey Collection, now housed in the Special Collections department, contains hundreds of examples of pop-up and movable books spanning over 100 years of publishing history. The Healy Collection is a wonderful addition to UNT Libraries’ already robust collection of pop-up and movable books.

The term “movable books” refers generally to books that contain interactive mechanisms including flaps, pull-tabs, volvelles, pop-ups and pop-outs. The earliest movable books date from the 14th century, and were designed with overlapping concentric circles, known as volvelles, which could be turned by the reader to illustrate different concepts in natural science, astronomy, mathematics, mysticism, fortune telling, navigation, and medicine.

Beginning in the early 19th century, publishers and authors developed movable books for children, beginning with simple techniques such as liftable flaps in books which evolved over time into much more complicated and intricate movements created through the use of pull tabs, and eventually 3-dimensional images that lift and lower when pages of the book are turned.

Early children’s books which included moveable elements were often handled roughly and treated as toys. This made the books susceptible to damage, and as a result rarely survived intact. These books are considered very rare and highly collectable. More modern examples of pop-up books, although not as rare, are prized for their whimsical and artfully crafted designs.

The Healey Collection includes several examples of early children’s books from the 20th century including Kellogg’s story book of games (1931), and The “pop-up” Mickey Mouse (1933). The majority of the books the in Healey collection exemplify the modern art of popup books, containing complex pop-ups designed by paper engineers and artists. These books span genres and topics such as science, architecture, fairy tales, children’s fiction and pop culture. Titles from the Healey Collection include Frank Lloyd Wright in pop-up (2002), Harry Potter: Hogwarts school: a magical 3-D carousel pop-up (2001), Star wars: a galactic pop-up adventure (2012), and The pop-up book of phobias (1999).

You can learn more about the artists, engineers and publishers of pop-up and movable books, and view samples from the UNT collection through a Special Collections digital exhibit. The Thomas J. Healy Collection is available for use by appointment in the Special Collections reading room.

pop up book open to a page with a faun

pop up book open to a page with a sailing ship

pop up book page open to abstract art