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Le cheval: extérieur: régions, pied, proportions, aplombs, allures, age, aptitudes, robes, tares, vices, vente et achat, examen des oeuvres d'art équestre, etc. Structure et fonctions: situation, rapports, structure anatomique et rôle physiologique de chaque organe. Races: origine, divisions, caractères, production et amélioration : XVI planches coloriées, découpées et superposées [The horse…]


Texte par Eugène Alix, dessins d'après nature par Édouard Cuyer [Text by Eugène Alix, drawings from nature by Édouard Cuyer]
Paris: J.B. Baillière,1886.


Whilst taking part in a barcoding project in late 2012, I was lucky enough to come across this beautiful and detailed French book. It is in two volumes: the text, and an ‘atlas’ {volume of illustrations}. Although the primary author is listed as Eugéne Alix, the drawings in the atlas were made by Édouard Cuyer. As I was barcoding ‘my’ section – the quarto (larger than a paperback novel, smaller than an atlas of maps) zoological monographs, I had the pleasure of seeing many handsome books, and many more plates and drawings. However, despite a very plain cover, this one stood out, not just because of the especially long title, but also because of what I found inside …a model horse! But it’s definitely designed for adults rather than children: if you’re squeamish, look away now.


Although there are a number of technical line drawings of horse physiology in the text, it was the colour illustrations in the atlas that really stood out. There are 16 plates with movable flaps, and a pocket at the back containing a model, movable, jointed paper horse, with templates. These allow the reader to accurately move the horse’s body, head and limbs so that they occupy the positions used when a horse is cantering, galloping, walking and so on. I confess I spent longer than usual barcoding this book – I couldn’t resist having a go…



Picture 1. Planche VII, Tête [Head]. Fig.1. Squelette de la tête. Face antérieure. Fig. 2. Tête, face latérale [Skeleton of the head . Anterior side, Head, lateral side.] {Eleven flaps}




Picture 2. Planche IX, Tronc et Cavité Thoracique – Face Latéral [Trunk and thoracic cavity – lateral side]. {Nine flaps}


The plates themselves are astonishingly detailed. For example, one shows all the structures in the neck: by lifting up a series of flaps, one can navigate from the skin of the animal, to the various muscles and tendons, to the blood vessels, and finally the spinal cord – this is shown in the first picture above. In total, we counted eleven flaps on this plate alone. Even the inside of the flaps have been coloured.


There are eight templates for the model horse, ranging from Amble to Galop [Gallop]. These have a slit cut into the top edge, so that each may be slid up behind the horse, and the body then positioned according to the template marks. Sadly the horse is missing a hoof (the ‘green’ one!), but we have flagged this up and our paper conservator will be examining the volumes for damage and carrying out repairs in the near future. In the meantime, we have updated the catalogue record to make sure that the illustrations and plates are fully described. In addition, the book has been re-classified taking into account its fragility and interest.


Picture 3. Planche V,. Allures du Cheval. La planche VI et ses huit annexes n’ont pas été intercalés dans l’Atlas pour en rendre le maniement plus facile et pour permettre d’exécuter commodément les diverses allures. On les trouvera la poche cartonnage de la couverture. [Horse gaits. Plate VI and eight annexes have not been inserted in the Atlas to make handling easier and to allow various gaits to be performed conveniently. They are found in the cardboard cover pocket.]




Unfortunately, I have not been able to find out much information about the book or its creators. The plates are referenced as being “del (et pinx)” [delineated and painted] by Cuyer, although Imp. [printing imprint] was carried out by Lemercier & Cle Paris. It was published by J.B. Bailliére & Fils [J.B.Balliere and son(s)]. However, we do know that although pop-up books are usually thought of as intended for children, the earliest known books were expensive teaching tools for adults – as this one clearly is.

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