SPL Hand Coloured Rare Book Collection Featuring Norman R Bobins

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Gebruder Moroder... [trade catalogue for toys and woodcarvings]

A book featuring the woodcarving toys of Gebruder Moroder, a toy and wood-carving firm in the Tyrol that was famous for its wood-carved toys, and where there is still an active woodcarving industry.

St. Ulrich in Groden, Tyrol. [c1905]
St. Ulrich in Groden, Tyrol. [c1905]

Unique tinted and hand-coloured trade catalogue of 34 double-leaved plates (15" x 21" each, or 39 x 52 cm), plus one oversized fold-out poster (33" x 24", or 85 x 62 cm). Equine, simian, and human figures abound in this extraordinary catalogue. All the plates are printed on one side and held into the binding via tabs. The plates are vibrant, bright, and clean (with unobtrusive hand-written price captions). The poster has a closed tear a few inches long by where it folds out, which has been repaired (without tape). The binding itself is tight, but the original boards show some wear-quarter cloth. Trade prices are loosely inserted. The Grodner Tal, or Val Gardena, in present-day Italy and then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, remains a centre of woodcarving and toy manufacturing and probably the largest of such remaining today. (It is the location of the firm, Anri.) By the second half of the nineteenth century, it was undoubtedly the largest source of toys globally. However, wood-carved toys lost ground to toys made of other materials. There was an explosion of innovation in toy gimmickry. The businesses in the Grodner Tal, with their adherence to traditional toy fabrication, were to fall into relative decline and relinquish market share, no matter how their industry sector might be defined. The wood-carved toys produced in the Grodner Tal were characterised by simplicity, even primitiveness, and for the well-organised industrial style business operations, might well be considered folk art, which often depends on bright paint colours for its appeal. In many respects, the renderings in this catalogue are far more visually exciting than one might find the actual toys depicted. Moroder, by the way, is a common surname in the Grodner Tal, and many businesses bore its name. Coloured plates in order: 1. 5 figs. Men ringing a bell, Military General on horseback, etc. 2. 7 figs. Country folk. Men, boys, and a woman. 3. 4 figs. Horses drawing carts and men in simple carriages. 4. 3 figs. (including an overslip of a cart) Horses pulling carts. 5. 4 figs. Collection of Musical Monkeys, a Clown, and a Man all performing on horseback. 6. 4 figs. Various forms of acrobatic manoeuvres on high bars etc. (Mit Deichsel). 7. 3 figs. Men and Women performing circular tricks from the rotation of wheels under them. (Deichsel zum zerlegen). 8. 5 figs. Man playing the drum, Man with a chained performing beast, Tradesmen, etc. 9. 5 figs. Acrobats etc. 10. 7 figs. Collection of carved animals and people. 11. 3 figs. Men (soldiers) on horseback. 12. 3 figs. As above. 13. 8 figs. A group of Monkeys playing Musical Instruments (each one slightly larger than the one before it), a Peacock on a cart with string & a pair of axe-men. 14. 8 figs of assorted animals, including Goat, Cow, Dog, Sheep, Donkey, etc. 15. 3 figs. Elephant, Cow, Sheep. 16. 5 figs. Horses of different sizes. 17. 6 figs. Horses and Donkey, Swan, Hen, and Owl. 18. 6 figs. Collection of differing wooden men - all with their arms aloft. 19. 3 figs. Comical-looking male figures. With arms held aloft. 20. 5 figs. Two horse pulling carts and assorted male performing figures. 21. 5 figs. Lady is pulling a cart of Poultry, Dog pulling a small cart, a Monkey is pulling a cart, and two men are pulling carts; one empty, the other with a Monkey and a drum. 22. 3 figs. Men are pulling empty carts. 23. 7 figs. Noah's Ark, Canoes, Horses, etc. 24. 2 figs. Horse pulling a cart loaded with pianos in boxes, the other Horse pulling a cart of barrels. 25. 2 figs. Both sets of Horses pulling carts of pianos in boxes. 26. 3 figs. Ponies and Traps. 27. 9 figs. Mice, Frogs, and Horses are pulling brightly coloured carts. 28. 7 figs. Hens, Horses, and an Oriental man on horseback, etc. 29. 6 figs. Horses of various sizes. 30. 6 figs. Men (soldiers) on horseback, a Clergyman is ringing a bell, and a Monkey is playing the Violin. 31. 5 figs. Three Harlequin figures and two bright male figures- all with arms aloft. 32. 10 figs. Cattle, Dog, Babies in Cradles, Young Women, etc. 33. 15 figs. An assortment of male and female heads and bodies, plus the head of a Devil! 34. 5 figs. Figure on horseback and four toys. 35. Large folding plate of a beautifully carved wooden Rocking Horse, in bright, vibrant colours.