May 2008 Archives

American Speckled Brook Trout


Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait (1819-1905), American Speckled Brook Trout, 1864, oil on board.

Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch (1884-1976, Princeton class of 1906) was a successful businessman and friend to the Princeton University Library. In particular, Kienbusch donated an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, and other works relating to angling. In among the reels and tied flies are some amazing paintings and drawings, including Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait’s American Speckled Brook Trout, seen above.

When Tait immigrated to America in 1850, he was already a practicing lithographer and illustrator. His was also an enthusiastic amateur naturalist. In his spare time, Tait hiked the Adirondack Mountains; camping, hunting, and painting in a summer studio he built.

Charles Edward Whitehead (1829-1903), Wild Sports in the South; or, The Camp-Fires of the Everglades. With illustrations by Ehninger, Tait and others (New York: Derby & Jackson, 1860) Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 1238

Tait produced thousands of paintings, most often romantic depictions of sportsmen and outdoor life. It was his still life of a brook trout that first caught the attention of Currier & Ives, who commissioned the elaborate “American Speckled Brook Trout” for a commercial print. Tait became one of their favorite free-lance artists, producing over forty-two designs for print reproduction. These prints sold for anywhere from 5 cents to $3.00, depending on the size and coloring. Tait wisely sold only the rights to the design and kept the oil paintings for himself, to be sold separately.

Around the same time as this painting, Tait designed the frontispiece for Charles Whitehead’s “Wild Sports in the South,” which was engraved on wood by N. Orr & Company.

Pantomime Actor Joseph Grimaldi

Attributed to William Heath (1795-1840), Mr. Grimaldi and Mr. Norman in the Epping Hunt, from the Popular Pantomime of the Red Dwarf (1812). Engraving with hand-coloring. Graphic Arts Division, British Caricatures

This print depicts the British actor Joseph Grimaldi (1778-1837) in one of his many popular pantomimes. Grimaldi, who always played the clown in these physical comedies, worked as a professional actor from the age of three. Unfortunately, his body was worn out by the age of forty-five and he was forced into retirement. One of his best-loved songs begins

A little old woman, her living she got
by selling codlins, hot, hot, hot.
And this little old woman, who codlins sold,
tho’ her codlins were not, she felt herself cold.
So to keep herself warm she thought it no sin
to fetch for herself a quartern of gin.

Joseph Grimaldi, (1779-1837), Memoirs of Joseph Grimaldi, edited by “Boz” [Charles Dickens (1812-1870)]; with illustrations by George Cruikshank (London: R. Bentley, 1838). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 1838.5

After retirement Grimaldi worked on his memoirs, which eventually filled two volumes. When the actor died in 1837, Charles Dickens was asked to edit the massive work and he succeeded by rewriting a good deal of the text. Dickens comments in the introductory chapter: “The present editor … accepted a proposal from the publisher to edit the book, and has edited it to the best of his ability, altering its form throughout, and making such other alterations as he conceived would improve the narration of the facts without any departure from the facts themselves.”

Princeton is also fortunate to also hold a songbook owned and signed by Grimaldi, seen below.

Thomas Tegg (1776-1845), Tegg’s prime song book, bang up to the mark! :the fourth collection (London: T. Tegg, [1814?]). Frontispiece and title vignette by Thomas Rowlandson. Rare Books (Ex) PR1188 .T43 1814.

Anopisthographic Biblia Pauperum

leaf 39 “t” Beatitude and leaf 40 “v” Coronation

blank verso of leaf 40 and leaf 38 “s” Hell

Three leaves from a Biblia pauperum, Schreiber edition X (38-40, .s, t, v.), late 1460s. Hand-colored woodblock prints. Sheet size 27 x 41 cm. GC110 Book Leaves Collection.

Princeton’s historical leaf collection holds three leaves from an edition of the Biblia pauperum, one of the best-known of the fifteenth-century blockbooks. According to Nigel Palmer’s article in the current Journal of the Printing Historical Society (no. 11, 2008, Firestone Z119 .P95613), the Biblia pauperum was “an ensemble of texts and images which narrated the history of man’s redemption from the Annunciation through to the Last Judgement and the coronation of the blessed soul in heaven” represented in 40 plates. During the 1460s, the 40 woodblocks for this volume were recut three times, along with seven intermediate issues in which just some of the blocks were replaced.

Mr. Palmer examined the sheets in Princeton’s collection and wrote that he believed they belong to the edition X, “almost certainly printed in Germany”. Of the known copies of this edition, Palmer identified one in Blackburn, England, originally from Gotha, which lacks these numbers and might be a match for our leaves.

The three leaves shown here are anopisthographic (printed on one side). Two of the sheets have been pasted together to form recto and verso of one sheet. Because there are so few Biblia pauperum surviving in their original structures, it is difficult to be certain about their construction but several editions were sewn into single-quire volumes in chancery folio (approximately 310-20 x 440-50 mm., only slightly larger than Princeton’s sheets).

Blockbooks were made from about 1450 to the 1470s, and Palmer cautions us to regard them as intertwined with all experimentation in printing technology of the period, included single-leaf woodcuts, single-leaf metalcuts, single-leaf engravings, books and single leaves with text printed with moveable type, and books with typographic text and woodcut illustrations.

For a complete reading of the iconography in each plate (in English), see Avril Henry’s Biblia Pauperum Marquand Library Oversize Z241.B6B52 1986Q

Divine Proportion Illustrated by Leonardo

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Luca Pacioli (ca. 1445-1517), De divina proportione. Opera a tutti gli ingegni perspicaci e curiosi necessaria que ciascun studioso di Philosophia, prospectiua, pictura … ([Venice]: A. Paganius Paganinus … imprimebat, [1 June 1509]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2004-1250Q

Luca Pacioli, known as Brother Luca, was a Franciscan monk and a mathematician. In 1497, he was invited to the court of Lodovico Sforza in Milan, where Leonardo de Vinci (1452-1519) was also in residence. The two became friends and spoke at length about mathematical theory as it applied to the application of proportion in artistic composition. It was at this time that Luca began his book De divina proportione. Leonardo provided some of the illustrations and the book was dedicated to Lodovico. In 1499, Luca and Leonardo were forced out of Milan and it was not until 1509 that their three volume work was published in Venice (volume three is an Italian translation of Piero della Francesca’s Latin writings On [the] Five Regular Solids). For more information, read Ruth Mortimer’s Harvard College Library Department of Printing and Graphic Arts, catalogue of books and manuscripts, (1964, v.2, part 2, p. 499-502. GA Z881 .H346)

Divine Proportion, or the golden ratio, is the ratio a : b = b : (a + b).

Euclid in Color

Oliver Byrne. The First Six Books of the Elements of Euclid, in which Coloured Diagrams and Symbols are Used instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners (London: Printed by Charles Whittingham for William Pickering, 1847). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2007-0026Q

One of the many remarkable things about this edition of Euclid is the expert printing. Each of the colors were printed from separate plates that had to be expertly registered; that is, positioned so that the geometric angles of the didactics matched exactly.

The printing was done by Charles Whittingham (1795-1876), nephew to Charles Whittingham, founder of the Chiswick Press where elaborately illustrated editions were published. Whittingham the younger joined his uncle’s business and quickly perfected the specialty of overlaying the printed image from several blocks.

The book was exhibited in London at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and both Euclid and Oliver Byrne, an otherwise unknown mathematician, took a backseat. Praise was researved for the beauty of the composition and the artistry of the printing. The book was sold by William Pickering for the extravagant price of 25 shillings, placing it out of reach of the simple educators who were suppose to have benefited from this new system for learning geometry.

Encrypted Poetry by Rabanus

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Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mainz, (784?-856), Magnencij Rabani Mauri De Laudib[us] sancte Crucis opus. erudicione versu prosaq[ue] mirificum ([Pforzheim, Germany: Thomas Anshelm, March 1503]). Gift of Elmer Adler. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2004-1145Q

Rabanus Maurus (784?-856), the Archbishop of Mainz, was one of the greatest writers of the Carolingian age. Rabanus compiled an early encyclopaedia, wrote commentaries on the Bible, and devised a complicated system of coded poetry, shown here.

Princeton’s Magnencij Rabani Mauri De Laudib[us] sancte Crucis opus begins with an introduction by Jakob Wimpheling (dated 1501) and includes 30 full-page poems printed in red and black, followed by a transcript in ordinary type for the sake of clarity and a Declaratio explaining the whole ingenious arrangement. The encrypted poems are composed in a grid of 36 lines each containing 36 letters. Rabanus sometimes incorporated a figure within the grid, creating both a figurative and a literal picture poem.

Saint Odilo of Cluny, an 11th-century devotee of Rabanus’s poetry wrote “no work more precious to see, more pleasing to read, sweeter to remember, or more laborious to write can or could ever be found.” Gustav Mahler was also a fan and composed his 8th symphony around one of Rabanus’s poems.

Other images of these poems can be found at

The History of the Life of the Late T. M. Cleland


Henry Fielding (1707-1754), The History of the Life of the Late Mr. Jonathan Wild the Great. Illustrations by T.M. Cleland (1880-1964) and an introduction by Louis Kronenberger (New York: Limited Editions Club, 1943). Gift of Elmer Adler. Graphic Arts collection (GAX) PR3454.J663 1943

Soon after Thomas Maitland Cleland left school, at the age of 16, he taught himself to set type, bought a small Gally Universal, and began making books in his basement. In 1900, he moved to Boston and published under the imprint Cornhill Press, named after the street where he lived. D. B. Updike of Merrymount Press was an early mentor, who provided commissions and endless criticism, leaving Cleland chronically unsatisfied with anything less than perfection.

Cleland went on to work as art designer for McClure’s Magazine, the Locomobile Company of America, the Westvaco Corporation, the Cadillac Motor Car Company, and Fortune Magazine, although he wrote “I am not, and never have been, particularly interested in advertising and have done much of my work for it only because it was, or seemed to be, necessary in order to make a living.”

In the 1930s, he made a series of calendar illustrations for the Harris, Seybold, Potter Company of Cleveland Ohio, which manufactured high-quality sheet-fed offset lithographic printing presses. The company tried to convince the printing world that sheet fed-offset presses could produce quality 4-color process work and Cleland’s prints were meant to provide the proof. “God Bless America,” seen below, is one of these prints.

In between commercial work, Cleland illustrated fine press editions, often using a series of stencils. Writing to Merle Armitage about his process, Cleland explained “It is made entirely with stencils which I cut myself by hand in thin metal (thirteen of them in all) and which I then printed successively by brushing through them with pure water colours. … so far as I know, no one has attempted before to make a complete picture with them as a medium, and I hope no one will try it again. It was an insane amount of work for such a trifling result, and took about four months work to make a hundred of them—fifty for the special edition of Adler’s book of my work, and fifty for sale.” (GAX Oversize NE539.C57 A3 1929q)

One of his most complex projects was Jonathan Wild, seen above, printed under Cleland’s supervision by the Marchbanks Press and published by the Limited Editions Club. In a letter to editor George Macy in 1942, Cleland wrote, “I am anxious to have this large line drawing photographed for the plate so … I should have proofs of the plate on which I can paint in the color for each stencil … so that they will have only the actual coloring of the edition to do after the book is off the press.” The coloring was accomplished by Charlize Brakely, who charged $10 per thousand pages. The book has 30 pages with color in an edition of 1,500, so that means a total of 45,000 pages to color.

Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008

Robert Rauschenberg (1925-2008), Rauschenberg. XXXIV Drawings for Dante’s Inferno (New York: H. N. Abrams, 1964). Limited to 300 sets signed by the artist. Princeton set also signed by Harry Abrams. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.00181-00213

Sadly, Robert Rauschenberg died on Monday night at the age of 82. One of many obituaries for this great artist can be read at

The Graphic Arts division is fortunate to hold a set of publisher’s proofs for Rauschenberg’s print edition of XXXIV Drawings for Dante’s Inferno, published in 1964 by Harry Abrams. This collotype portfolio reproduces the 34 drawings in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. A great source of information about the Dante project and many of Rauschenberg’s other works of art is Mary Lynn Kotz’s Rauschenberg, Art and Life, revised 2004 Marquand Library SA ND237.R187 K679 2004.

Support the Orphan Works Act of 2008


There are works of art, films, books, and other materials in the storage rooms of museums and libraries across the country for which the copyright owner cannot be found. Any use of these materials could mean statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work and so, these orphans go unused. Please write to your congressmen and congresswomen to encourage them to pass the Orphan Works Act of 2008. For more information, see

Here is a copy of the letter I sent to help you with your own:

I am writing to ask you to support H.R. 5889, *The Orphan Works Act of 2008*. The bill addresses a problem under copyright law that stops copyrighted works from being used when their owners cannot be found. These works are called “orphans” and there are millions of them that go unused today because filmmakers, libraries, archives, museums, and publishers are afraid of being sued. Penalties for using an “orphan work” without permission can be as high as $150,000 if the original copyright owner appears.
H.R. 5889 allows for orphan works to be used, so long as the user does a “qualifying search” for the owner. In the off chance the original owner surfaces after the search, he is compensated for the use. The bill goes out of its way to prevent “bad faith” users from gaming the system, but is balanced enough to not make it burdensome for the honest users.
The bill includes a “Notice of Use Archive,” a limit on how an orphan can be used, and an extra fee just because a work was registered. These sections would add costs and put more burdens on users that would limit their use of orphan works. I would urge you to take out those sections of H.R. 5889.
Lastly, H.R. 5889 authorizes services that would let owners upload their photos or other visual works to online databases so that the owners could be found later if someone else wanted to use the work. These services are a good idea, but the bill should be changed to guarantee the public free access to search them, including through Internet search engines. Please support this small but important change to the bill.
I urge you to make the above changes to H.R. 5889, and support its passage.

A Peep Egg

The Graphic Arts collection holds a wide selection of optical toys and instruments, from a portable camera obscura to 20th-century Magic Mirror Movies. One of the favorite viewing devices in the Victorian era was affectionately known as the Peep Egg.

Victorian peep egg, ca. 1843. Aalabaster and glass viewer. GA 2005.00242

Unlike moving image viewers, such as the phenakistoscope or the zoetrope, this personal viewer allows one person to view one still image through a monocular lens. More complex peep shows or boite d’optique were equipped with many openings and/or moving parts to simulate daytime and nighttime. These viewing eggs were often made as souvenirs for a special event, festival, or exposition.

The peep egg is made of alabaster, so that light passes through the body of the device and no other source of illumination is required. The body is fitted with twin alabaster handles rotating a spindle so that two or three prints can be mounted inside the body of the egg. Each person turns the handle at his/her own speed to see each of the images. Princeton’s egg is from London and offers a hand-colored engraving of Greenwich Hospital, another of the Thames river at the entrance to the Tunnel, and a third panel in-between with a small bouquet of dried foliage and crystals.

One of many good websites showing optical devices is:

Mister O'Squat by Rowlandson or Lane?

Attributed to Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), [Mister O’Squat: A Panorama] (London: Published by William Sams, Booksellers to his Royal Highness the Duke of York opposite the Palace, St. James Street, 1822). Box embossed: E.P. Sutton & Company; Sangorski & Sutcliff. GA 2005.01039

Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827) was one of the greatest of the British caricaturists. Critic Robert Hughes wrote “William Hogarth invented the panorama of social class as a subject in English painting. Rowlandson, who was eight when Hogarth died, continued the tradition, with an equal gusto but greater humor. The dark side of Hogarth, his capacity for moral rage, is largely missing in Rowlandson, and his interest in art theory is entirely absent.”

Theodore Lane (1800-1828) on the other hand, was a lesser known British caricaturist who worked around the same period as Rowlandson. A savant, who had his debut at the age of 16 with an exhibition of paintings at the Royal Academy, Lane is only known today for his humorous work, such as his caricatures of George IV.

The graphic arts collection holds a scrolling panorama made up of 12 unsigned, hand-colored etchings, with a narrative in verse, attributed to Rowlandson and titled Mister O’Squat. This year, a search for more information about this item uncovered an unbound series of 12 panoramic colored prints that were sold in a 1906 book sale under the title Mister O’Squat and the Widow Shanks. This title corresponds to a listing in OCLC for a series of prints with verse attributed to Lane and titled The Misadventures of a Pair of Newlyweds who Leave the Country for the Superior Pleasures and Society of London, also called Mister O’Squat and Widow Shanks. Published in 1818, this is also a panorama in 12 sections, each 13 x 73 cm. the same as Princeton’s.

Were these prints just reconfigured to be viewed as a continuous scene through the window of a small box (sometimes called a myriopticon)? Did Rowlandson know of Lane’s prints and reproduce them for the publisher William Sams? Is the 1818 series misattributed to Lane and really the work of Rowlandson? These are still unanswered questions that deserve further research before an answer is given.

Early History of Photography

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing (London: Printed by R. and J.E. Taylor, 1839) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize TR144 .T34 1839q

In January of 1838, news reached William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) in London that Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) had announced his direct positive process to the Academy of Sciences in Paris. Talbot rush to present and publish his own findings and on January 31, Talbot read a brief paper before the Royal Society in London. Several weeks later, he spoke again at length about the process that he called photogenic drawing.

Unfortunately, the Society declined to publish his research on photography in their Transactions and it was not until the following year that the paper found its way into print (shown here). This brochure constitutes the first separate publication on photography.

Inside the copy held at Princeton University is a letter from Sir Edward Brewster (Principal of St Andrew’s University and Chancellor of Edinburgh) who was an amateur photographer and writes about the calotype process.

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), The Process of Calotype Photogenic Drawing: communicated to the Royal Society, June 10th, 1841 ([London]: Printed by J.L. Cox & Sons, [ca. 1841]) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) TR395 .T34

It was not until 1841 that Talbot finally introduced the calotype process. Talbot again spoke to the Royal Society and the document pictured here is the publication of this “memoir” or talk presented on the creation of photography.

Princeton University holds many seminal publications on the history of photography from around the world. Also pictured here is the 1851 paper published by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard (1802-1872), introducing his variation on the calotype entitled Traité de photographie sur papier.

Milton's Quatercentenary

2008 is John Milton’s quatercentenary. As one of many events celebrating the author this year, Professor Nigel Smith spoke Thursday at Labyrinth Books on his new book, Is Milton Better than Shakespeare? Professor Smith pointed, in particular, to Milton’s ability to merge poetry with conversation and urged audience members who were not convinced to simply read Paradise Lost.

Firestone Library holds 610 editions of works by Milton including four copies of the first edition of Paradise Lost from 1667. Rare Books and Special Collections boasts 62 illustrated editions of Milton, beginning with the first illustrated Paradise Lost, published in 1688 with engravings by M. Burghers and Peter Paul Bouche after designs John Baptist Medina and Bernard Lens. Rare Books (Ex) Oversize 3859.369.142q

Pictured here is the first edition illustrated in color: Le Paradis perdu (Paris: Chez Defer de Maisonneuve, 1792). Graphic Arts division (GAX) Oversize PR3561.F5 D8 1792q. For this edition, Frédéric-Jean Schall (1752-1825) created a series of paintings specifically to be used as designs for engraved illustrations to this bilingual edition. Twelve stipple engravings were printed à la poupée, that is, with hand-painted application of colored inks to sections of the copper plate before printing. Each sheet had to be inked and printed separately, significantly limiting the edition’s print run, but adding enormous beauty and charm to the volume.

Mise En Page


Alfred Tolmer (1876-1957), Mise En Page: The Theory and Practice of Lay-Out (London: The Studio, 1931). Princeton copy is part of the Charles Rahn Fry Pochoir Collection. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), Oversize 2004-0692Q

In the early years of the 20th century, the publishing house known as Tolmer et Cie or Maison Tolmer was located at 15, quai Bourbon in Paris. The editor in chief was Alfred Tolmer, who took over after his father, whose name does not seem to have been recorded. Alfred’s son Claude Tolmer (1922-1991) was also with the firm and Bernard Tolmer is also mentioned. These three generations of Tolmers produced literally hundreds of beautiful volumes with exceptional design, often illustrated with original pochoir or lithographic prints. See Papillons in a previous blog post.

In 1930, Alfred began to write his definitive treatise on graphic design, entitled Mise en Page: the Theory and Practice of Layout, which continues to be consulted, if only for the inspirational layout of this book alone. The volume deals with photography, typography, and illustration, using unusual techniques of collage, pochoir, and coated papers. He published a French language edition himself and an English language edition with The Studio magazine, which was printed in London and includes the French text at the back.

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