July 2008 Archives

Winslow Homer's Eventful History of Three Little Mice

Author unknown. Eventful History of Three Little Mice and How They Became Blind (Boston: E. O. Libby & Co., [1858]) Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 848(a)

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was twenty-six before he seriously took up painting and nearly forty before he depended on it for a living. How did he pay the rent before this? His early career was as an illustrator, designing more than 160 illustrations for books and literary journals.

Homer apprenticed with the Boston lithographer, John Henry Bufford, until his twenty-first birthday. For the next two years, working independently, he designed at least forty-two small drawings for thirteen different books, all juveniles. One of these was the Eventful History of Three Little Mice. Homer created seventeen illustrations for the book, which was released in April 1858, priced at 12 ½ cents as printed or double that if the illustrations were hand-colored.This project was something of a rip-off of the Remarkable History of Five Little Pigs, engraved by the Dalziel Brothers.

Homer’s frontispiece shows the climax of the story, the cutting of the mice’s tails—talk about giving away the ending. He did not draw the cover, which may explain the difference in the title.

This is how the production was often handled: For each drawing, a blank wood block was sent to Homer’s studio. The block usually consisted of a number of closely fitted pieces of boxwood bolted together. Homer drew directly on the block’s whitened surface and returned it to the publisher (later he was allowed to submit a drawing on paper). The master wood engraver cut the lines that ran across the joints. Then, the blocks were separated and assistants would engrave the different parts of the design. The blocks were then reassembled and electrotyped, to create a metal plate for printing.

If you are interested in Homer’s career as a book illustrator, take a look at: David Tatham, Winslow Homer and the Illustrated Book (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1992) Graphic Arts NC975.5.H65 T38 1992

A Paper Museum

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677), Muscarum scarabeorum, uermiumque uarie figure & formae / omnes primo ad uiuum coloribus depictæ & ex collectione Arundelian a Wenceslao Hollar aqua forti æri insculptæ, Antuerpiæ, anno, 1646. [Antwerp, Belgium: s.n., 1646]. Gift of Elmer Adler. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-3713N

Named Václav but called Wenceslaus when living in London, Hollar was a Czech printmaker who published his first book etchings in 1635. He traveled with the renowned art collector Thomas Howard, the Earl of Arundel, who finally settle in London.

Hollar assignment was to etch copies of each individual item in Arundel’s collection, in an attempt to create a visual inventory or a paper museum. He never finished, although Muscarum scarabeorum … includes some of Arundel’s massive collection.

Thomas Sprat (1635-1713), The History of the Royal-Society of London, for the Improving of Natural Knowledge (London: Printed by T. R. for J. Martyn … and J. Allestry … printers to the Royal Society, 1667). Frontispiece etched by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677) after design by John Evelyn (1620-1706). Gift of Elmer Adler, signed by Albert Einstein. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-3215N

When Lord Arundel left England in 1642, and Hollar passed into the service of the Duke of York, working alongside other royalist artists, such as Inigo Jones. Over his lifetime, Hollar created nearly 3,000 etchings. He was one of the most skilled printmakers of his time, despite being almost blind in one eye.

The following anecdote is difficult to prove but fun to repeat. Holland struggled all his life to make a living, charging four pence an hour for his work (measuring his time with a sandglass). As he was dying, his last recorded words were a request to the bailiffs that they would not carry away the bed until he was entirely dead.

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677), Le triomphe de la Mort / gravé d’apres les desseins de Holbein par W. Hollar ([London: s.n., 1790]) The 32 plates are interleaved with the text Explication des sujets de triomphe de la Mort de Jean Holbein. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2006-2648N

To see more of Hollar’s work, see http://link.library.utoronto.ca/hollar/

Photographie Vulgarisatrice


A late nineteenth-century poster showing an incredible instantaneous photography outfit.

“Don’t be confused. This apparatus is not cardboard. It is a serious instrument.”

Photographie Vulgarisatrice (Paris: S. Glaise, 180 Rue Lafayette, [ca.1900]). Color lithograph. Graphic Arts division GAX 2008. in process

How Hot Is It Where You Are?

Francis Frith (1822-1898), Cairo, Sinai, Jerusalem, and the Pyramids of Egypt: a Series of Sixty Photographic Views; with Descriptions by Mrs. Poole and Reginald Stuart Poole (London: J.S. Virtue; New York: Virtue & Co., [1860]). Gift of Hertha Cordis Conway.Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0146F

A successful grocer, Francis Firth took a chance in 1850 when he formed a partnership and opened The Frith and Hayward Photography Studio in Liverpool. In 1856, Frith made an extended trip to Egypt, traveling up the Nile from Cairo to Abu Simbel. He carried with him four cameras and all the equipment necessary to take and develop wet collodion glass-plate negatives. He often complained about the chemicals boiling-over inside the tent he used as a darkroom.

Frith made other trips to the Middle East in 1857 and 1859, then printed and published 1,000s of albumen photographs in a series of deluxe books and albums. The public went crazy for these images and Frith made a small fortune. Although he retired soon after this, his publishing company in Reigate, Surrey, continued to operate until 1970.

Shopping at the Bazaar

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), A Bazaar [London]: J. Johston [sic] Cheapside. Published, June 1st, 1816. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

This is one of George Cruikshank’s earliest etchings. In it we find John Bull (who always personified the English public), along with his family, enjoying a day at the Soho Bazaar. Around them, a mob of fairly rakish buyers are working their way through the stalls.

According to our rare book friends at Marlborough, the Bazaar was established by John Trotter in 1815 to enable the widows and daughters of Army officers to dispose of their handiwork. Counter space was rented at 3d. per foot per day, with open counters arranged on both sides of aisles or passages, and on two separate floors of the building. This market was the first of its kind and extended from the north-west corner of Soho Square to Oxford Street.

The items sold at these stalls were almost exclusively something for the dress or personal decoration of ladies and children; such as millinery, lace, gloves, or jewelry. At the height of the season, the long line of carriages alongside the building testified to the number of wealthy visitors who enjoyed browsing through the merchandise.

Some of the rules of the establishment were very stringent. A plain, modest style of dress was required for the young, female workers and a matron was always on duty to check on this.

A Font of Pilgrims

Clifton Meador, Kora (Chicago, Illinois: Clifton Meador, 2007). Edition of 50. Graphic Arts collection GAX 2008- in process

Colophon: “These pictures were taken at the Dege Parkhang, a printing temple located in Ganze Autonomous Prefecture in western China, in August of 2006, with support from a Faculty Development Grant from Columbia College Chicago. This book is part of a larger project about the Parkhang developed by Patrick Dowdey….The figures are line drawings from the photographs, now converted into a font, so the pilgrims have literally turned into language, at least in this book.”

The Dege Parkhang printing temple, survivor of weather and wars, has become the largest concentration of Tibetan literature in the world — thousands of books preserved as wooden printing blocks. Printing is still carried out with these blocks every day weather permits.

Pilgrims, circumambulating the exterior of the temple, some carrying prayer wheels their mantras spinning into the ether, are performing kora — an act of devotion and honor to the books housed therein.

Meador’s book posits the possibility that the pilgrims through this act of worship become the literature, or at least the language that gives the books life.

Clifton Meador is the Director of Book and Paper Arts, Columbia College, Chicago http://www.colum.edu/BookandPaper/Faculty/Clifton_Meador.php

Un espejo de nuestro mundo

Mirror to Our World / Un espejo de nuestra mundo (Chiapas, México: San Cristóbal de Las Casas, 2007). Copy no. 5 of 100. Graphic Arts (GAX) 2008- in process

Recently acquired for the Graphic Arts division is this limited-edition portfolio celebrating the achievements of the Maya photographers in and around San Cristóbal de Las Casas in the Chiapas Highlands. The portfolio was produced under the auspices of the Chiapas Photography Project, which assists and promotes the artistic work of the region’s indigenous peoples. For information, see http://www.chiapasphoto.org/

The Project has developed two distinct programs: the Archivo Fotográfico Indígena / Indigenous Photography Archive (AFI) and Lok’tamayach, Fotógrafos Mayas de Chiapas / Mayan Photographers from Chiapas. The Archive holds over 75,000 photographs by more than 200 photographers from 10 different ethnic groups.

Un espejo de nuestro mundo comes in a cloth slipcase made by Paxku’ Pavlu from Nabenchauk, Zinacantán. The design is taken from a pirik mochebal of the 1970s/80s, which was a type of shawl used by women in Tzotzil-speaking Zinacantán, a community in the Chiapas Highlands. The shawl was worn for everyday activities and has traditionally been characterized by a basket-weave pattern dating from pre-Columbian times. http://www.chiapasphoto.org/shop.html

Petul Hernández Guzmán, Te ants jlo’bile meybil yu’un te jkaxlane. The male clown dressed as a woman is embraced by the white clown. La mujer marucha está abrazada por el ladino, 2001

Genaro Sántiz Gómez, K’in ta Chamula. Celebration in Chamula. Fiesta en Chamula, 1997.

Eternally I labour on

The Graphic Arts collection includes original work by the British artist William Blake (1757-1827). Among these is an over-painted monotype entitled “Eternally I labour on” for his Urizen project. This Blake came to Princeton in a small bound volume (4to) with a letter written by A. Edward Newton: “This is a hand colored plate by William Blake, not an original drawing, from Urizen. I bought it from Gabriel Wells when we were in London together in the summer of 1921. And I paid a pretty stiff price for it, too. Edward Newton, May 1922.”

When the painted print was exhibited at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1939, the catalog noted, “Los striving to lift the Stony Roof, the 10th plate of Urizen. Painted with strong opaque pigments, printed by Blake’s monotype process. The background, showing clearly the reticulation of the mill-board, is especially brilliant, being executed in a wonderful variety of bright colors. Surrounded by framing lines, and inscribed below by Blake, ‘Eternally I labour on’.”

How this image fits into the published and unpublished copies of Urizen has been a subject of much research. Here are a few comments.

“Although considered a monotype because of Blake’s unique color-printing techniques, the image of “Eternally I labour on” originally belongs to one of Blake’s Illuminated Books printed around the 1790’s entitled The Book of Urizen - also known as The First Book of Urizen. Blake created seven copies … only two of which contain all twenty-eight plates. The Princeton Collection’s … image also belongs to Blake’s Small Book of Designs copy B, a compilation of 23 impressions of images without text from Blake’s other books commissioned by Ozias Humphry. Therefore, when Blake first began experimenting with this image, his intention was not to create a print for individual sale.” Elizabeth R. Lemoine, class of 2009

“Many thanks for the image of Urizen plate 9 from Small Book of Designs, copy B. Actually, copy B of both the Large Book and Small Book is a bibliographical invention, because most of the impressions are second pulls, impressions pulled from the plate while the ink was still wet. However, your impression does not have a corresponding impression in copy A (there are one or two others like that in copy B). All the B impressions have the three or four frame lines, and the impressions are, as you say, monotypes. He could get a good second impression from the plate without replenishing colors between pulls, but the second impression was usually lighter and required more finishing in pen and ink and watercolors. Even a second impression from the plate, though, is still technically a monotype because the impressions are not exactly repeatable.” an email from Blake expert Joseph Viscomi

For more information see, The William Blake Archive, Editors Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi http://www.blakearchive.org

Joseph Viscomi, Blake and the Idea of the Book, Firestone NE642.B5 V57 1993

Thanks to Mrs. Gerard B. Lambert of Princeton, RBSC also holds several Blake poems in manuscript, including:

I asked a thief to steal me a peach.
He turned up his eyes.
I ask’d a lithe lady to lie her down.
Holy & meek she cries.

As soon as I went an angel came:
He wink’d at the thief
And smil’d at the dame,
And without one word spoke
Had a peach from the tree,
And ‘twixt earnest & joke
Enjoy’d the Lady.

Family Bible. Superfine Edition.


New Devotional and Practical Pictorial Family Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, Apocrypha, Concordance, and Psalms in Metre… . Superfine Edition. (Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL; St. Louis, MO; and Atlanta GA: National Publishing Co., 1879). Gift of Rev. Dr. Stephen White, Princeton’s Episcopal chaplain. Graphic Arts GAX 2008- in process

The King James Bible was the Harry Potter of the nineteenth-century. The family bible might have been the only book purchased for an American home and so, publishers crammed them with additions to make their volume more desirable.

This 1879 edition includes pages with pre-printed photograph holders, space for genealogy, maps, charts, chromolitho-graphed prayers, and 2,500 illustrations.

Also: Illustrations of scenes and incidents in the life of Christ; the cities and towns of the bible; scenes in the life of St. Paul; topographical sketch of Jerusalem and the holy land; the wanderings in the wilderness; illustrations of the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple; scenes in the lives of the patriarchs, prophets and kings of the old testament; illustrations of bible scenes and incidents; animals, birds, insects, etc, of the bible; illustrations of the trees, plants, and flowers of the bible; biographies of the reformers and martyrs, etc.

Together with: Dr. William Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible in which every important scriptural word is full explained, and a complete history of each book of the bible, beautifully illustrated, a history of all the religious denominations of the world, illustrations of the parables of Jesus and proverbs of Solomon, history of the translation of the bible, chronological and other useful tables, treatises, maps, etc., designed to promote and facilitate the study of the sacred scriptures.

French Advertising Design

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Paul Poiret (1879-1944), editor, Pan: annuaire du luxe à Paris, an 1928 (Paris: Devambez …pour Paul Poiret, [1928?]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize NC139.D94 P36 1928q

At the time Poiret was working on Pan, his reputation as a women’s fashion designer was on the decline and by 1929, he was forced to declare bankruptcy. For this 1928 volume, he compiled more than 100 examples of advertisements for luxury goods designed by his friends, including Yan B. Dyl, Edy Legrand (1892-1970), Charles Martin (1848-1934), Tsugouharu Foujita (1886-1968), and others. Products are from a wide range of firms such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Judith Barbier, Mitsubishi, Maigret, Hermes, Lanvin, Callot Soeurs, Maxims, and the Moulin Rouge.

Robert Nanteuil

Nanteuil, Robert (1623-1678), Francois-Antoine Dulieu de Chenevoux, Maitre des Comptes, 1667. Engraving. Gift of John Douglas Gordon, Class of 1905. GA 2005.00673

Nanteuil, Robert (1623-1678), Marie-Jeanne-Baptiste de Savoie-Nemours, Duchesse de Savoie, 1678. Engraving. Gift of John Douglas Gordon, Class of 1905. GA 2005.00584

In 1966, collector and Francophile John Douglas Gordon, class of 1905, donated a collection of 134 seventeenth-century engravings by Robert Nanteuil to the Graphic Arts collection in memory of his wife, Janet Munday Gordon. Nanteuil was Royal Engraver to Louis XIV and the outstanding portraitist of his age. Thanks to Mr. Gordon, Princeton holds impressions from approximately one half of the plates completed by Nanteuil.

We recently digitized this entire collection and all of Graphic Arts’ Nanteuil engravings can be viewed at http://diglib.princeton.edu/
To see his complete works, you might consult: Charles Petitjean, Catalogue de l’œuvre gravé de Robert Nanteuil (Paris: L. Delteil et M. Le Garrec, 1925) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize 2005-0487Q.

Magic Lanterns

Our display of pre-cinema optical devices will be on view in the second floor cases of Rare Books and Special Collections in Firestone Library for two more months. Included is this nineteenth-century French toy magic lantern projector with hand-colored slides. RBSC galleries are open to the public weekdays 8:30-4:30 and weekends 12:00-5:00.

If you are interested in these devices, you should consider attending the International Magic Lantern Society conference in Washington D.C. July 10-13, 2008. Many of the performances are free and open to the public. The entire series of scholarly lectures can be attended for only $10. For more information, see http://www.magiclanternsociety


John Thomas Smith (1766-1833), Vagabondiana; or, Anecdotes of Mendicant Wanderers through the Streets of London; with Portraits of the Most Remarkable, Drawn from the Life (London: Published for the proprietor; and sold by J. and A. Arch [etc.] 1817) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize Rowlandson 929.3q

In the early years of the nineteenth-century, John Thomas Smith was the Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum as well as a professional illustrator. He lived on Chandos Street near Covent Garden, a rather seedy part of London, where he liked to sketch portraits of his neighbors.

Smith’s 1833 obituary printed in The Gentleman’s Magazine noted “Mr. Smith had much pleasure in tracing out and examining the peculiar manners and costumes of the inhabitants and visitors of this district of the metropolis. The procuring of information from various sources occupied many years of his life; and he meditated the publication of this interesting mass in two volumes, which we regret he never completed… but in 1817 he published a work on which he had been some time employed, entitled Vagabondiana”. For more information, read Smith’s autobiography: A Book for a Rainy Day (London: Richard Bentley, 1845). Firestone Library (F) 1459.863.1845

Stephen Rea's Field Day

This posting is in honor of Stephen Rea’s brilliant performance at the Public Theater in Kicking a Dead Horse. http://www.publictheater.org/

Rare Books and Special Collections holds a large collection of Irish theater plays, playbills, posters, and manuscripts given by Leonard L. Milberg in honor of the Irish poet and Princeton professor Paul Muldoon.

Shown here is a poster from an early production by Stephen Rea’s Field Day Theatre Company, The Cure at Troy written by Seamus Heaney and directed by Stephen Rea. His company also originated the production of Translations by Brian Friel. Field Day now publishes books. https://marketplace.nd.edu/

For more information on the Irish Theater Collection, see the website http://www.princeton.edu/milberg. Here is a finding aid to the posters: http://libweb.princeton.edu/libraries/

Coming in 2011, a new collection of Irish novels.

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