A day in the zoo: realistic pictures of the birds, beasts and fishes: a stand up toybook
Last week I made a trip to the annual Helsinki book fair, something I haven't done in a while. Despite all the antiquarian and second-hand book stalls I've roamed eagerly before, I only bought one book, and that was something V. asked me to find for him. He was attending the fair wearing two hats; he's a poet and a translator. Most of his time was spent working at the stall of his poetry co-op, Poesia, or mingling with somebodies (it'd be intolerable to me, I say). So, I was left to my own devices, and had more than enough time to realize I didn't really need or want to buy anything. Not a bad experience at all.
My unenthusiastic book fair attendance luckily didn't lead to coming home empty handed. We stayed at my urhem (I'm determined to launch this term for the home you grow up in, in separation of the home you make yourself later in life. Home home as an expression just isn't at all practical...) and my mother gave me this gorgeous pop-up book in need of repair. Just seeing it caused palpitations, googling it last night caused tiny squeals and cold feet. Regardless of the fact that I know I know how to make book repairs professionally (still, don't ask me to do it unless it's something as amazing as this), beginning this project scares me. A lot. My mother was under the impression this book was from her mother's childhood, but my initial research revealed it a generation older, published some time between 1890 and 1900. And the only other original copy I could find online is in Toronto. There is also an adaptation published around 1980 (with some text added, at least), but no sign of more of these old ones. So this book isn't just a family treasure, it's also rare. It's terrifying, it's exciting.
Considering its age and purpose, this book is actually in pretty great condition. The front cover is missing and the first page is loose, also some of the pop-up straps are loose because of the old glue drying out, and there's damage to the most delicate details, like the bars on the cages, and some missing bits and pieces (the aquarium is in the worst condition of all). Far from mint condition, obviously, but I think it's not too bad for a childrens' book as old as this. I won't be recreating things that are missing (oh, horror), just simple repairs as invisible as possible, and a case to protect the book from further damage in the future. I'll let you know how it works out, if I have the guts to bite the bullet.