The Public Paperfolding History Project

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Metamorphoses / Harlequinades
This page attempts to summarise the history of Metamorphoses / Harlequinades / which are a kind of flap book with flaps to the top and bottom of the page which can be folded in and out as the directions for the story require. These books often have Harlequin as the central character, hence the name Harlequinade. Please contact me if you know any of this information is incorrect or if you have any other information that should be added. Thank you.

A catalogue of early books with moveable parts, including Metamorphoses / Harlequinades, can be found here.

This page only includes a few of the Metamorphoses / Harlequinades known.



According to the Union Catalogue of Early Moving Books (see link above) the two earliest known Metamorphoses were both published in 1650.

'Harlequin's Metamorphoses' was published in London in 1650 by Martin George. I have not been able to find any further details of this book.

'The beginning, progress and end of man' was also published in London in 1650, by B Alsop for T Dunster. This book is held in the British Library. Closed and open images are shown below. The wording of the story can be found here.



In the late 18th Century a series of Metamorphoses / Harlequinades were devised and priunted by the publisher Robert Sayer.


Adam and Eve by Robert Sayer, 1765. Note the similarity to the 1650 book above.


Mother Shipton by Robert Sayer, 1771