August 2008 Archives


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), Cover of the portfolio L’estampe originale, no. 1 1893. Lithograph. Graphic Arts division, French prints G9

Toulouse-Lautrec contributed two designs for covers to L’estampe originale, which offered an original lithograph to its subscribers three times each year between 1893 and 1895. This lithograph is the first. It shows dancer and singer Jane Avril studying a fresh impression at the Paris lithography studio of Édouard Ancourt. The master printmaker at the press is Père Cotelle

Although only around 100 copies of this print were made, it has become one of the iconic images of the 1890s. Indeed, Toulouse-Lautrec’s colorful lithographic posters are almost synonymous with the Belle Époque. Inspired by Japanese woodblock prints, note the flatness of the design, a strong diagonal, and the large areas of muted color.


Al Capp (1909-1979), Fust is thar anyone else yo’druther come home to?, 1976. Screen print. Graphic arts division GA 2008.00735

The cartoon character Li’l Abner was created in the 1930s by Alfred G. Caplin (1909-1979), better known by his pseudonym Al Capp. At that time, Capp was the youngest syndicated cartoonist in America and Abner was the most popular of all American cartoon characters. The strip ran from 1934 to 1977, when Capp stopped drawing it.

Graphic arts holds a number of cartoons, both contemporary and historical. Several years ago, our good friend and a splendid cartoonist Henry Martin, class of 1948, mounted a website of selections from the collection, which can still be viewed at:

Lace Making in the Seventeenth Century

Sigismundus Latomus, Schön newes Modelbuch: von 600. ausserwehlten künstlichen so wol italiänischen, frantzösischen, niderländischen, engelländischen als teutschen Modeln, allen Seydenstickern, Nähterin vnd solcher Arbeit gefliessenen Weibspersohnen zu Nutz zugerichtet = Un beau et nouueau liure à patrons: enrichie de six cens belles pourtraitures et patrons exquises, tant à la mode italiène, françoise, du Pais Bas, angloise, qu’allemande, fort profitables à tous brodeurs, cousières, & autres dames & ieunes filles desireux de ceste besoigne (Getruckt zu Franckfurt am Mayn [Frankfurt am Main]: Durch Sigismundum Latomum, M.DC.VI. [1606]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2005-0157Q

This unrecorded first edition pattern book contains 17 fullpage and 96 vignette woodcuts on 34 leaves of plates. Latomus catered to an international clientele of women and girls, offering both favorite designs and the latest in needlework patterns. An elaborate opening woodcut cartouche with contemporary hand coloring was commissioned by Latomus specifically for this edition. The design features Virtues and Senses in the four corners: Labor, Diligence, Sight, Touch. In the central scene, six women can be seen weaving, measuring, and cutting fabric, while also attending to a wealthy customer and his page.

For more information on this and other of model books, see Arthur Lotz, Bibliographie der modelbücher (Leipzig: K. W. Hiersemann, 1933). Marquand Lib.NK8804 .L9

Austrian Emblem Book

Joseph Schalletar, Joannes Christophorus Carolus, and Paulus Leopoldus Mednyanszky, Divus Leopoldus Austriae marchio pius, felix (Viennae, Austriae: apud Susannam Christinam, Matthaei Cosmerovii vid, 1692). Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

This is an emblem book on Leopold III, patron saint of Austria and Vienna. It holds 15 etchings composed in honor of two Hungarian nobles. The only clue to the printmaker is one plate signed B. Denner, leading some to think of the German portrait painter Balthasar Denner (1685-1749). Unfortunately, he would have been only seven years old at the time of publication.

Perhaps it is a later edition with added plates by Denner but comparing ours to another copy is going to be difficult. There are only two other copies of this volume recorded; one is at the Universiteit Utrecht in The Netherlands and the other in Wienbibliothek im Rathaus (Vienna City Library) in Austria.

Historia de una Afeccion Anestestica

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In 1877, physician and public health specialist Emilio R. Coni (1859-1907) published an article entitled “Historia de una Afeccion Anestesica. Contracturante, Amputante y Dactiliana,” in the professional journal he edited Revista Medico-Quirurgica. A 16 page off-print was released at the same time by the Buenos Aires press of Pablo E. Coni, with a photographic frontispiece showing a man with macular leprosy.

Coni expanded the piece and the following year, published Contribucion al Estudio de la Lepra Anestesica. Coni fought all his life for the reform of the health practices of Latin-American families, and was eventually named president of the Medical Association of Argentina.

His memoirs were released after his death: Memorias de un médico higienista: contribucion a la historia de la higiene pública y social Argentina (1867-1917) (Buenos Aires: Talleres Gráficos A. Flaiban, 1918). Recap, RA459.xC6

A Dancing Jaguar and Mayan Spells

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Ámbar Past with Sara Miranda and Tom Slingsby [text in English]; Maria Tzu, Rominka Vet and Maruch Méndes Péres [text in Tzotzil, a Mayan dialect still spoken], Bolom Chon / The Dancing Jaguar (San Cristóbal de Las Casas, México: Taller Leñateros, 2007). Copy 42 of 99, signed by the artists. Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

The two books in this posting are both published by Taller Leñateros, an indigenous book and paper cooperative in Chiapas, Mexico that has been creating handcrafted books for over 30 years.

Bolom Chon features the music and art of the Tzotzil Indians. The covers are made from cardboard boxes mixed with coffee and printed on an 1895 letterpress. The endpapers of the book are made from agave fiber and decorated like the tiger costumes of Tzotzil ritual dancers. The center fold features a pop-up jaguar. In addition, “The cover was stepped on by the Bolom Chon [dancing jaguar] so its footprints remained as a testimony of its passing through the world.”

To see the pop-up Jaguar in action and hear the song, go to:

Taller Leñateros is the only publishing house in Mexico run by Mayan artists. Founded in 1975 by poet Ambar Past, the Workshop has produced the first books to be written, illustrated and bound (in paper of their own making) by Mayan people in over 400 years.

Ámbar Past, Portable Mayan Altar: Pocket Books of Mayan Spells / Conjuros y ebriedades (San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico: Taller Leñateros, 2007). Graphic Arts GAX 2008- in process

Another item from the Taller Leñateros is a set of miniature books of Mayan spells, including a hex to kill the unfaithful man by Tonik Nibak, Mayan love charms by Petra Hernández, and magic for a long life by Manwela Kokoroch.

These texts, in three hand-sewn volumes, are housed in a hut-shaped cardboard case opens to form an altar with two side panels. Along with the three books the authors provide a pot-shaped incense burner, two animal figure candle holders, and a plastic sleeve with 12 candles.

The Yosemite Book

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Josiah Dwight Whitney Jr. (1819-1996), The Yosemite Book: A Description of the Yosemite Valley and the Adjacent Region of the Sierra Nevada … (New York: Julius Bien, 1868). Western Americana (WA) 2008- in process

It is hard to overestimate the importance of The Yosemite Book in the history of the United States. Only 250 copies of this lavish quarto volume were published, with 24 albumen photographs by Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916) and 4 by William Harris. Watkins made the photographs on an 1866 trip to Yosemite with the Geological Survey of California and Harris made his on a trip the following year.

Watkins’ spectacular photographs record the beauty of Yosemite, not the geography or topography required of other survey artists, and his images found an immediate audience. Watkins used 8 x 10 inch glass-plate negatives, which had to be developed in California and then, carried back across the country to the photographer’s studio in Washington D.C. to be printed.

According to photography historian Peter Paulquist, “The task of printing 250 copies of each of the 28 negatives, a total of 7,000 individual prints, was accomplished by Watkins and his staff in the winter of 1867-68. Assuming that Watkins received at least $6 per book, and that all the books were sold, he would have netted $1,500 for [one year’s] work.”

For more information, see Martha A. Sandweiss, Print the Legend: Photography and the American West (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002). Marquand Library (SAPH) TR23.6 .S25 2002.

Thomas Annan and the Glasgow Water Works

James M. Gale, Photographic Views of Loch Katrine and of Some of the Principal Works Constructed for Introducing the Water of Loch Katrine into the City of Glasgow… (Glasgow: Glasgow Corporation Water Works; printed by James C. Erskine, 1889). Graphic Arts division, GAX 2008- in process

The Scottish photographer Thomas Annan (1829-1887) is best known for his images of the Glasgow slums, published as Photographs of Streets, Closes, &c. Taken 1868-71, 1872 (Graphic Arts dividion (GAX) 2007-0023E). Not long after this commission, the city of Glasgow hired Annan again to photograph the 25 mile water system between Loch Katrine and Glasgow. This was the first successful aqueduct project in Scotland, designed to provide Glasgow with cheap, clean water.

Annan finished the first set of photographs in 1876 and a portfolio was published in 1877. He returned to take a second photograph of the commission members in 1880 and a third portrait of the group in 1886.

In the late 1880s, Glasgow had outgrown the original water works and needed a second reservoir. To raise the money for this project they again called Annan, who made additional photographs and a second expanded edition of the Water Works album was published in 1889. This is the rare volume of 33 albumen photographs that Princeton’s graphic arts division recently acquired.

Les costumes grotesques


Nicolas de Larmessin II (ca. 1638-1694), Habit d’Imprimeur en Lettres (The Printer’s Costume), ca. 1680. Engraving. Graphic Arts GA 2007.04409.

This copper plate engraving is from Les costumes grotesques et les metiers or the Fancy Trade Costumes series. In the series, over 70 artisans are dressed in the materials of their occupation, in this case the tools of a printer.

Nicolas de Larmessin II is one member of a family of printmakers and booksellers, many with the same name, leading to much confusion in attributing their work. The family had their own publishing house in Paris, where they designed and printed books, prints, calendars, and other popular works on paper.

To see more of Larmessin’s work, look at: Les avgvstes representations de tovs les roys de France depvis Pharamond ivsqv’a Lovys XIIII: dit Le Grand, a present regnant, 1679: auec vn abrège historique sous chacun, contenant leurs naissances, inclinations et actions plus remarquables pendant leurs regnes (Paris: Bertrand, 1679). Engraved portraits of the Kings of France. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2008-0170Q

A Drawing for Blake to Engrave, But Who Made It?

Portrait of Johann Lavater, ca.1787. Attributed to Johann Lavater after a drawing by Johan Lips. Graphite. Graphic Arts division GA2008- in process .

The Swiss minister Johann Caspar Lavater (1741-1801) was convinced that the science of physiognomy made it possible to know about a person’s interior self from their exterior body. This included both the physical skull itself and the visual representation of it. He published his beliefs in three major editions, Physiognomische fragmente (1775-78) RBSC Oversize 6453.568.15q, Essai sur la Physiognomonie (1781-1803), and Essays on Physiognomy (1788-99) GAX Oversize 2007-0002Q. These volumes are lavishly illustrated with profile portraits, silhouettes and linear profile outlines.

Johan Heinrich Lips (1758-1817) was the principal engraver of the plates, working from his own drawings and after drawings by Georg Friedrich Schmoll. Lavater’s close friend Henry Fuseli (1741-1825) added a few illustrations and brought in the young William Blake (1757-1827) to complete a few additional plates.

Joan K. Stemmier, writing in The Art Bulletin (March 1993), asserts that Lavater planned a lavish folio edition of his Physiognomonie and prepared several drawings on folio sheets for this project. Ultimately, trouble between Lavater, Fuseli, and the publisher, Joseph Johnson, brought a halt to the project.

This was around 1787, at the point when Blake was called in to engrave, among other things, a large portrait of Lavater. The question is, who made the drawing that he used for the image? There is a chalk drawing by Lips in the Kunstsammlungen at Weimar that resembles this engraving, but not exactly.

Reproduction of William Blake’s engraved portrait of Lavater.

The graphic arts division at Princeton University holds a second large profile drawing of Lavater. This is believed to be the source for Blake’s engraving. According to Stemmier, Lips drawing was engraved by Adam Ludwig Wirsing in 1787 and sent to Lavater but the author was not satisfied with the sharp angles and lack of overall harmony in composition. Working from either the drawing or the engraving, Lavater made his own drawing with the harsh lines altered and jowl softened. It is this drawing that was sent to Blake to engrave, which is now owned by Princeton.

When the folio edition fell through, Johnson published Blake’s engraving as a single print in several editions from 1787 through 1800. Now it was Blake’s turn to be dissatisfied. “I find on all hand great objections to my doing any thing but the meer drudgery of business …” he wrote to his patron Thomas Butts and vowed to give up reproductive engraving for projects on which he could have complete artistic control.

2008-2009 Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize

Deadline for entries: 5:00 p.m., Friday, November 28, 2008

The Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize is awarded annually to the student or students who, in the opinion of the judges, have shown the most thought and ingenuity in assembling a thematically coherent collection of books, manuscripts, or other material normally collected by libraries. The prize is endowed from the estate of Elmer Adler who for many years encouraged the collecting of books by Princeton undergraduates. The rarity and value of the student’s collection are not as important as the creativity and persistence shown in collecting and the fidelity of the collection to the goals described in a personal essay.

Jane & Louise Wilson, Oddments Room II (Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle), 2008. C-print, Edition of 4. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

An informational session introducing the contest will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 15, 2008 in the Scheide Library, located in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Firestone Library. The Scheide Library holds outstanding collections of Bibles in manuscript and print, including a Gutenberg and a 36-line Bible; medieval manuscripts and incunabula; music manuscripts of Johann Sebastian Bach and Ludwig van Beethoven; and other rare materials. Scheide Librarian Paul Needham will give a brief tour and talk about the importance of book collecting. Julie Mellby, graphic arts curator, will be on hand to answer questions about the Adler Prize.

Essays should be submitted via e-mail, in a Microsoft Word attachment, to by 5:00 p.m. Friday, November 28, 2008 and should be no more than ten pages, double-spaced. Your entry should include a bibliography of the items in your collection. Please note your name, class year, residential address, email address, and phone number on a separate cover sheet.

Winners will receive their prizes at the annual winter dinner of the Friends of the Princeton University Library. The first prize essay will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Princeton University Library Chronicle and has the honor of representing Princeton University in an international book collecting competition.


Informational meeting: 4:30 pm, October 15, 2008

Deadline for entries: 5:00 pm, November 28, 2008

First prize: $2000

Second prize: $1500

Third prize: $1000

Suggested readings from Paul Needham, Scheide Librarian:

Michael Sadleir, preface to his XIX Century Fiction (1951). Firestone 3579.079

A.N.L. Munby, Essays and Papers (1977). Firestone Z992.M958

John Carter, Taste and Technique in Book Collecting (1970). Firestone 0511.241.2.1970

G. Thomas Tanselle “The Rationale of Collecting,” Studies in Bibliography. Online at

"Prometheus Bound" Illustrated with Fire

Aeschylus. Prometheus Bound. Translated from the Greek by Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), illustrated by Russell Maret (New York: Russell Maret, 2007). Copy number 5 of 50, signed by the artist. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2007-0067F

The Greek drama, Prometheus Bound, is thought to have been written by Aeschylus around 430 B.C.E. It is a tragedy, based on the myth of Prometheus, who was punished by Zeus for giving fire to humankind.

Henry David Thoreau was only 25 years old when he undertook a modern translation of the play for the January 1843 issue of the Dial magazine. In preparing a 21st-century edition of Thoreau’s text, Russell Maret experimented with drawings made from smoke rising directly into white paper. Not only did it produce beautiful images but the drawings were emblematic of Prometheus’ dramatic theme.

The result is a book printed letterpress in three colors from photopolymer plates using Fred Smeijers’ Quadraat type for the text and an original “Promethean” alphabet by Maret on the title page. Each copy has one original smoke drawing as a frontispiece. The edition is bound by Judith Ivry in quarter goatskin and paper over boards with a second smoke drawing on each cover.

For the earliest edition in RBSC, see Aeschylus. Aischylou Tragōdiai hex: Promētheus desmōtēs. Hepta epi Thēbais. Persai. Agamemnōn. Eumenides. Hiketides = Aeschyli Tragoediae sex (Venetiis: In aedibus Aldi et Andreae soceri, 1518 mense Februario) (ExKa) Special 1518 Aeschylus

Li He, the Poet-Ghost

Tyson, Ian. Ghost. Poetry by Li He, translated by John D. Frodsham (San Diego: Brighton Press, 2005). Copy 26 of 30. Graphic Arts (GAX) Oversize 2007-0701Q

The Chinese writer Li He, nicknamed the poet-ghost, lived during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). He began to write at the age of seven. Each morning Li He would go for a ride on his horse, jotting down thoughts or sentenses as they came to him. These tiny strips of paper would be thrown into a bag and later that night, used as the material for his poetry.

British artist Ian Tyson was inspired by Li He’s method of composition. He created this artist’s book made of unbound printed sheets of poetry, housed in a cloth-covered wrapper. Each volume comes in a tray case with a relief sculpture mounted on top.

Beauty and Bravado in Japanese Woodblock Prints

Exhibition to open January 16, 2009

Kikugawa Eizan (1787-1867), Reclining couple reading a love letter, ca. 1804-1818. Color woodblock print. Gift of Gillett G. Griffin in honor of Dale Roylance. Graphic Arts Division

A reception and gallery tour will be held at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, January 25, 2009, for the opening of “Beauty and Bravado in Japanese Woodblock Prints: Highlights from the Gillett G. Griffin Collection” in the Milberg Gallery of the Princeton University Library.

Yashima Gakutei (1786?-1868), Number Five: Dancers on Stage (from the series The Dance at Furuichi for the Hisakatayo Poetry Group), ca. 1822. Color woodblock print. Gift of Gillett G. Griffin in honor of Dale Roylance. Graphic Arts Division

The prints on display offer examples of changing fashions and evolving print technologies in Japan from the late 1600s to the mid-1800s. They are part of the collection donated by Gillett Griffin, curator emeritus of the Princeton University Graphic Arts Collection, in honor of Dale Roylance. The exhibition will be on view from January 18 to June 7, 2009.

In 1947, when Griffin was a student at Yale University’s School of Fine Arts, one of his professors invited a Japanese print dealer to visit. Gillett’s eye fell on a small black-and-white print, which he purchased for the enormous sum of $2.00. The dealer was impressed that such a young man would see the beauty in what turned out to be a print by Hishikawa Moronobu (ca. 1618-1694).

Four New York art sales that winter featured Japanese prints, three at Parke-Bernet and one at Gimbels Department Store (both Gimbels and Macy’s sold fine art in those days). Griffin made it to three of the four sales, and by the end of the year had a collection of almost seventy classic Japanese woodblock prints. “I really had no money,” he said. “But this was only a few years after Pearl Harbor and there was still a great deal of hostility and so, not many buyers.” Griffin continued to study and collect for more than sixty years.

A lecture on Japanese prints will be given by Julie Davis, Professor of Art History, University of Pennsylvania, on Sunday, May 3, 2009, at 3:00 p.m. in 101 McCormick Hall, followed by a reception in the Milberg Gallery. The Milberg Gallery is open to the public, free of charge, weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Wednesday evenings, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.; and weekends, noon to 5:00 p.m. The gallery is located on the second floor of Rare Books and Special Collections, Firestone Library, Princeton University, One Washington Road, Princeton, New Jersey. For information on visiting the campus, see:

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III, 1786-1865), Chapter Thirty-four: Wakana No Jô, from the series: Parody on the Fifty-four Chapters of the Tale of Genji (Genji gojûyojô), 1858, 9th month. Signed: Toyokuni ga. Publisher: Wakasaya Yoichi. Ôban tate-e diptych. Color woodblock print (nishiki-e).

Typographic design by Karel Teige

Seifert, Jaroslav, (1901-1986) Na vlnách TSF: poesie (Praha-Bubeneč : Nakl. V. Petra, 1925) Typography and cover design by Karel Teige (1900-1951). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), NC139.T44 N3 1925

Karel Teige was a graphic designer and architectural theorist. His innovative designs during the years before World War II, revolutionized both commercial and artistic book production in Czechoslovakia. Together with the Czech poet Seifert, Teige founded the 1920s Prague-based avant-garde group Devetsil (taken from the word for a tough weed).

Teige began his career as a painter but when he designed the first cover of a Devetsil publication, he gave up painting for graphic design. Influenced by many of the DaDa artists, such as Man Ray, Teige often used photomontage in his covers.

Na vlnách TSF can be translated On the Waves of T(élégraphie) S(ans) F(il), or On the Air. This was the fourth collection of poetry issued by Seifert and one of many project on which he collaborated with Teige.

In 1984, Jaroslav Seifert was the first Czech to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. “Endowed with freshness, sensuality, and rich inventiveness,” the Nobel Committee stated, Seifert’s poetry “provides a liberating image of the indomitable spirit and versatility of man… . He conjures up another world than that of tyranny and desolation — a world that exists both here and now … one that exists in our dreams and our will and our art.”

Listen to one of Seifert’s poems at:

The Whole Duty of Woman

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The Whole Duty of Woman. A new edition, with considerable improvements. (Philadelphia: Printed by J. Ormrod …, 1798). Gift of Michael Papantonio. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), Hamilton SS 247

This miniature courtesy book was pulled recently for a researcher. First published in 1695 by Lady Mary Cressy, under the title The Whole Duty of a Woman; or, A Guide to the Female Sex, from the Age of Sixteen to Sixty, &c. For a new edition in 1753, the author was simply listed as “A Lady.” In fact, this author was William Kenrick (1725?-1779), English novelist, playwright, and founder of the book review digest The London Review. Kenrick was described by Paul Fussell in PMLA (June 1951) as “one of London’s most despised, drunken, and morally degenerate hack writers in the later eighteenth century.”

In this tiny volume, Kenrick assumes the persona of a fallen woman, now reformed, who wants to persuade other women to live a life of virtue. Chapters include Curiosity, Reflection, Vanity, Knowledge, Reputation, Applause, Censure, Insinuation, Affectation, Modesty, Chastity, Complacence, Acquaintance, Friendship, Elegance, Frugality, Employment, Virginity, Marriage, Education, Authority, Widowhood, and Religion.

While courtesy books are, in general, books of etiquette for young women, they often went further by offering a philosophy of life, a code of principles, and ethical behavior by which to live. Kenrick was certainly having a good laugh as this volume was reprinted in over 20 editions.

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