In 1909 Peter Newell filed an application for a patent on books with leaves “having designs thereon, and having corresponding portions of said designs cut away to provide sight openings.” The drawings used to illustrate it are sketches of the pictures published that same year under the title of Jungle-Jangle, a mild satire of Theodore Roosevelt’s hunting expedition to Africa.
While the patent for the Slant Book was granted within months of the filing, this one took until 1911 to receive approval, perhaps because instances of “peep shows” or “tunnels” had already appeared at least since the 1850s, according to the Popup Lady’s “History of Movable Books” (also see “Exploring Tunnel Books” at artistbooks.org and Patrizia Ghirardelli’s “Glossario“). Peter Newell’s slim volume, however, differs from the traditional tunnel book for its use of the cut-out shapes as a narrative device which prepares the final revelation; the old peep shows aimed at showing a surprising but static scene.
Interestingly, an incredibly similar design had been filed in 1908 by one Frank U. Wagner but it did not receive approval until 1912: in this case the lady’s face showing through the hole was to be in relief, a variation on S. and J. Fuller’s early-19th century doll-books such as The history of little Fanny, exemplified in a series of figures and Frank Feignwell’s attempts to amuse his friends on Twelfth Night. Exhibited in a series of characters.