August 2007 Archives

Newly Acquired Optical Print Shows 18th-Century Booksellers

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This engraving was designed by Georg Balthasar Probst (1732-1801) to emphasize architectural perspective, so that when it was viewed through the lens of a zograscope the picture would appear to have great depth and dimension. Probst was famous for this kind of print, known as Vue d’Optique print or perspective print, and his Augsburg workshop produced more than 300 views, usually with captions in four languages.

The scene includes book binders, book illustrators, and book sellers juxtaposed with classical allegorical figures. Note in particular the ship in the distant center, ready to carry the finished volumes out into the world.

Georg Balthasar Probst, Mercurius, Planetarum Quartus, Ejusque Influentia (Augsburg: n.p., n.d.). Hand-colored engraving. Graphic Arts collection, Princeton University Library. GA2007.03748

Slave Market of America Broadside


Graphic Arts has acquired a large broadside “extra” printed in 1839 by the American Anti-Slavery Society’s official newspaper, Emancipator (GA2007.00285). The 27 ½ x 21 inch sheet was prepared in reaction to a resolution by the House of Representatives against passage of any bills to end slavery.

The resolution, written by a special committee chaired by Henry L. Pinckney of South Carolina, recommended: that all petitions, memorials, resolutions, propositions, or papers, relating in any way, or extent whatever, to the subject of slavery, or the abolition of slavery, shall without being either printed or referred, be laid on the table, and that no further action whatever shall be had thereon.” The resolution passed by a vote of 177 to 68.

A good text to read for further information: Dwight Lowell Dumond, Antislavery; the Crusade for Freedom in America (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press [1961]). Firestone Library 1083.313.2

Exhibition of Mexican Graphics in the Milberg Gallery

The collective printmaking workshop, Taller de Gráfica Popular (TGP), was founded in 1937 by Leopoldo Méndez, Pablo O’Higgins, and Luis Arenal. During the progressive era of post-revolutionary Mexico, TGP quickly grew into Mexico’s foremost political printshop. It was a vibrant collective of both established and emerging artists who were committed to the direct use of visual art in the service of social change.

TGP printed posters and broadsides in support of unions and agricultural workers; endorsed movements for social justice; and condemned fascism. In the tradition of José Guadalupe Posada, they produced a constant stream of handbills and fliers using witty corridos (topical songs) and satirical calaveras (skeletons) to caricature politicians and corrupt officials.

The Graphic Arts collection is fortunate to have acquired a small group of posters and fliers by the TGP ( A selection will be exhibited from September 21, 2007 to February 10, 2008 in the Milberg Gallery for Graphic Arts.

To open the exhibition, the Friends of the Princeton University Library and the Program of Latin American Studies, are sponsoring a lecture at 3:00 on Sunday 7 October 2007. Mexican novelist, poet, and playwright Carmen Boullosa will give a talk entitled “The Struggle is on the Walls: Antecedents and Inheritors of the TGP,” followed by a reception in the gallery.

José Chávez Morado (1909-2002). “La risa del pueblo.” Con su música a otra parte. [“The laughter of the people.” With its music elsewhere]. Mexico City: Taller de Gráfica Popular, 1939. Lithograph. Graphic Arts Collection. Princeton University Library 2006-00260

Greenwich Village History in Etchings

Bernhardt Wall, Greenwich Village Types, Tenements & Temples (New York: printed by the author, 1921). Etchings. Graphic Arts collection, Princeton University. GAX Oversize 2006-0915Q

Bernhardt Wall, sometimes called the American William Blake, was born in Buffalo, New York on December 30, 1872. He worked as a commercial illustrator in New York and Buffalo, making a name for himself with a series of popular, comic postcards. In 1915 Wall took a trip to the Southwest and used the sketches he made to create a group of copper-plate etchings. Wall printed them in an edition of 50 and bound them into small volumes. He made the unusual choice of also printing the text from the copper-plates rather than letterpress, saving the need to print each sheet twice. The innovative volumes proved a great success and a turning point for his career.

Wall became not only author and artist, but designer, printer, binder, publisher and distributor of little books. Success allowed him to travel widely, in particular the American Southwest, and at the height of his career he kept working studios in New York, Houston (TX), Lime Rock (CT), and Sierra Madre (CA).

OCLC reports 141 books by Wall (Princeton University Library owns nine) including two completely etched magazines he attempted. This first, Wall’s Etched Quarterly, lasted through only three volumes in 1921. Later, when Wall moved to Lime Rock, Connecticut, he tried again with The Etched Monthly, which ran from 1928 to 1929. Wall’s neighbor in Lime Rock was the master printer and paper historian Dart Hunter, with whom Wall became great friends.

There are several issues of Wall’s Greenwich Village, each of the same set of images. The first appeared in 1918 in an edition of 100 copies. Online sources offer no evidence of a second edition, but in 1921 Wall published 50 copies of a “third state” (Princeton owns copy no. 7), using the fine art term to indicate that the plates had been slightly alerted. A third edition was released in 1947 limited to 50 copies. A complete bio-bibliography has been written by Francis J. Weber, entitled Following Bernhardt Wall (1974).

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