Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Talking Storybooks

The Talking Storybook boxes are the stalwart storytellers of Children's Fairyland in Oakland, California.

Above 2007 photo courtesy of Erica J. Loh

Though the inside audio playback and speaker devices have been updated and replaced over the years, the exterior boxes remained true to Bruce Sedley's original 1962 patent schema. That is, until 2009, when the Talking Storybooks received a facelift in anticipation of the Talking Storybooks 50th Anniversary celebration.

Sedley's design-patented Talking Storybooks also were installed at the San Francisco Zoo from 1959 through the 1960s, but were replaced later by other "Talking Storybook" devices.

The only exterior difference between the original Fairyland Storybooks and the original San Francisco Zoo Storybooks was a small metal sign attached to the top of the box (partial view only) that provided instructions for using your 50-cent lifetime Trunkey.

Special thanks to fellow blogger & artist Headexplodie for her information on this post!


Headexplodie said...

Actually, the box design has changed, as of the beginning of this year. We are actually celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Storybook Boxes this weekend and Bruce will be making an appearance, very exciting! Great website, by the way.

leontiev said...

Thanks for the update on the box design change at the beginning of this year and for sharing the exciting celebratory news about the 50th anniversary of the Storybook Boxes and Bruce's guest appearance!!!

Would love for you to share how the boxes look now, as compared to the photo shown here. And, if you have any pics, I'd be delighted to add them here for all to enjoy.

Zoo Keys

Novelty plastic keys used in Talking Storybooks at zoos, parks and other exhibits. Children's entertainer and puppeteer Bruce "Skipper" Sedley invented the original tape-recorded-playback Talking Storybooks with their novelty keys in the early 1950s.

In 1958, Talking Storybooks operated by the Magic Key to Fairyland were installed at Children's Fairyland in Oakland's Lake Merritt Park. The familiar elephant-shaped key – Trunkey the Elephant – was created the following year for the San Francisco Zoo, and has been used at zoos & parks across America since the 1960s.