November 2009 Archives

Delacroix's Faust

“Delacroix has surpassed my own vision.” This was Goethe’s response to Delacroix’s 1828 lithographs for his drama Faust.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Faust, tragédie de M. de Goethe. Translated by Philipp Albert Stapfer (1766-1840). Illustrated with 17 lithographs by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), plus two variant issues of Delacroix’s portrait of Goethe and an added portrait of Delacroix by A. Masson (Paris: C. Motte [etc.], 1828). Front and rear original illustrated wrappers bound-in, design attributed to Achille Devéria (1800-1857). Purchased by Rare Book and Graphic Arts divisions, 2009- in process

Princeton University Library is fortunate to have acquired a superb copy of the 1828 illustrated edition of Goethe’s Faust, considered by most historians to be one of the finest publications of the nineteenth century. Gordon Ray calls Delacroix’s illustrations “the high point of Romantic book illustration,” and David Bland called the volume “one of the very greatest of all illustrated books.”

This copy survives in a particularly fine condition, with brilliant impressions of the lithographs printed on white, rose, blue, and light grey Chine collé. The individual prints are all second or third states (a complete description continues below).

“‘It must be admitted,” said Goethe (translated from Eckermann), “that I myself scarcely imagined the scene so perfectly! M. Delacroix is a great artist of exceptional talent, who has found in Faust precisely the subject that suits him.”

Loys Delteil writes in Delacroix, the Graphic Work: A Catalogue Raisonné (Marquand Library Oversize ND553.D33 D4613 1997Q) that

“Delacroix planned to have a portfolio of illustrations without text but Sautelet, one of the publishers, wished to reissue Stapfer’s translation, which he had first published in [1822]. The initial plan was for twelve plates, but this was later increased to seventeen plus the portrait of Goethe. Delacroix’s first idea for the project dated from 1824 when he had begun to share his friend Jean-Baptiste Pierret’s enthusiasm for Faust. He worked on it from mid-1825 until December 1827. The publication was announced in February 1828.”

The sequence of execution of all the plates has not been determined, but covered the period 1825-1827. It is known that Delacroix had finished “Méphistophélès in Auerbach’s Tavern” and “Faust and Méphistophélès galloping on Walpurgis Night” by the end of November 1826 since impressions of those prints were in Goethe’s possession by that time. “Méphistophélès introduces himself at Martha’s House” was completed about October 1827. The portrait of Goethe was not completed before December 1827.

In the letter to Burty, Delacroix mentioned a dramatic opera Faust in London in 1825 with the actor Terry as the greatest inspiration to his plates. He described that performance in a letter to Pierret June 18, 1825. The production Delacroix attended has been identified as the romantic melodrama Faustus by George Sonane and Daniel Terry with music by Bishop, Horn, and Cooke, which opened at the Duruy Lane Theater May 16, 1825.

Delacroix’s large, free lithographs met with a hostile reception. His stated purpose was “to astonish the middle class” and he conceived them as a deliberate act of aggression. Goethe said “The French public reproach him for an excess of savage force, but, actually, here it is perfectly suitable.” Delacroix’s Faust is seen here in relation to two other contemporary British and American publications, using the prevailing illustrative style of small, formal engravings.

top left: Book of Cuts, Designed for the Amusement and Instruction of Young People (New York: M. Day, 1828). Wood engravings by Alexander Anderson (1775-1870). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 1439


bottom left: Pierce Egan (1772-1849), New Series of Boxiana: Being the Only Original and Complete Lives of the Boxers (London: George Virtue, 1828-1829). Rare Books off-site, 4276.325.2

Jack Sheppard: A Romance

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), [Illustrations to Jack Sheppard, by William H. Ainsworth (1805-1882)] (London: R. Bentley, 1839). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 1839.01

William Harrison Ainsworth (1805-1882), Jack Sheppard: a Romance. Illustrations by George Cruikshank (London: R. Bentley, 1839). 3 volumes with 27 etchings. Includes 4 additional pencil drawings. Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Cruik 1839

At the age of twenty-two, the handsome Cockney thief Jack Sheppard (1702-1724) was arrested and imprisoned five separate times in the same year. Each time he escaped, only to be captured again. Near the end of the year he was recaptured, convicted, and hanged.

During his final incarceration in Newgate prison, Sheppard was bound with three hundred pounds of iron weights. Guards charged visitors four shillings to see him. 200,000 people followed him through the streets of London to attend his hanging. A play based on his life opened less than two weeks later.

Dozens of book, plays, and songs have been written about Sheppard, including William Ainsworth’s novel Jack Sheppard, a Romance (seen here) illustrated by George Cruikshank. Ainsworth’s story was serialized in Bentley’s Miscellany beginning January 1839 and the complete book released before the end of the year, outselling Oliver Twist.

George Herbert Rodwell (1800-1852), Nix my dolly palls fake away: sung by Mrs. Keeley & P. Bedford, composed by G. Herbert Rodwell (London: D’Almaine, [ca. 1839]). Words by William H. Ainsworth and illustrations by George Cruikshank. The drama was first performed at the Adelphi Theatre, London, on 28 October 1839. Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize Cruik 1839.7.183-q

Here is a small selection of projects based on the life of Jack Sheppard:

  1. A narrative of his life, published by John Applebee Harlequin Sheppard (1724)
  2. A pantomime by Thurmond, performed in Drury Lane in December 1724
  3. The character of Macheath in John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (1728) and The Threepenny Opera of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill (1929)
  4. “Industry and Idleness,” a series of twelve engravings by William Hogarth (1747)
  5. Jack Sheppard the House-breaker (1825)
  6. A melodrama by W.T. Moncrieff Jack Sheppard
  7. A novel by William Harrison Ainsworth (1839) (later the same year adapted into a play by John Buckstone)
  8. Little Jack Sheppard, an operetta with libretto by Henry Pottinger Stephens and William Yardley, and score by Meyer Lutz (1885)
  9. Silent movies: The Hairbreadth Escape of Jack Sheppard (1900) and Jack Sheppard (1923)
  10. Where’s Jack? directed by James Clavell (1969)
  11. The Thieves’ Opera by Lucy Moore (1999)

2009-2010 Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize

Deadline: MONDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2009
5:00 p.m.

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, music, art, or other material normally collected by libraries. Each student is asked to write an essay, along with a selected bibliography, about their collection. The rarity and financial 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 your 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

Please come to an informational session about the Adler Prize at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 14, 2009 in the Scheide Library, located in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, ground floor of 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 introduce the prize and answer questions about your competition essays.

The essay should be no more than ten, double-spaced pages and should be submitted along with the bibliography via e-mail, in a Microsoft Word attachment, to by 5:00 p.m. Monday, November 30, 2009. Remember, the value or number of items is less important than the quality of their selection in satisfying the goal(s) of 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 14, 2009

Deadline for entries: 5:00 pm, November 30, 2009

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

See the 2008 winner:

Doctor Botherum, the Mountebank

Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), Doctor Botherum, the Mountebank, 1800. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts, British caricatures, drawer 5

Joseph Grego (1843-1908), Rowlandson the Caricaturist (London: Chatto and Windus, 1880). Graphic Arts Collection (GARF)

In Joseph Grego’s narrative-style catalogue raisonné of Thomas Rowlandson’s prints (volume 2, p. 3), he speculates,

from the bustle and life visible on all sides it would seem that the period is fair time, when the rustics and agricultural population of the vicinity in general flock into the town, holiday-making. A travelling mountebank has established his theatre in the market-place; … while his attendants, Merry Andrew and Jack Pudding, are going through their share of the performance … The rural audience is solidly contemplating the antics of the party, without being particularly moved by Dr. Botherum’s imposing eloquence, these vagabond scamps being frequently clever rogues, blessed with an inexhaustible fund of bewildering oratory, and witty repartee at glib command.

Throughout the crowd, Rowlandson offers other forms of quackery and charlatans, with almost everyone either deceiving or being deceived.

Grego then speculates that Dr. Botherum is a caricature of Dr. Bossy (or Boosy or Bosey), a celebrated German mountebank, who practiced theatrical acts of healing in London. Bossy was said to have been the last of the respectable charlatans. He set up his small stage alternately in Covent Garden market and at Tower Hill, arriving to both in a chariot wearing colorful clothes. Bosey attracted large crowds for awhile but as he grew older, his audiences grew smaller and he ended his days selling potions and pills in the open-air markets of Yorkshire.

See also Leslie G. Mathews, “Licensed Mountebanks in Britain,” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 19, no. 1 (1964): 30-45.

Thackeray in the margins

Henry Mackenzie and others, The Mirror: A Periodical Paper (London: printed for A. Strahan and T. Cadell in the Strand…, 1787). Three volumes from the library of William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863) with twenty-four pencil drawings by Thackeray in the margins. Graphic Arts GAX 2009- in process

William Thackeray was not only a nineteenth-century writer but also a graphic artist with a talent for caricature. He owned these three volumes of The Mirror and was inspired to make twenty-four small drawings at the ends of chapters and in the margins of stories.

Thanks to the research of Christopher Edwards, we know that the volumes were mentioned in the short catalogue issued by Henry Sotheran in February 1879, as “Relics from the library of the late W.M. Thackeray, comprising books of no great value in themselves, but enriched by numerous characteristic drawings, executed with remarkable skill and taste.” These three small volumes and their marginalia were priced at two pounds, five shillings, one of the higher prices in the catalogue.

Thackeray’s volumes were eventually donated to University of Aberdeen by A.A. Jack (1869-1946), professor of English at the University, but have since been deaccessioned. Happily, they now reside in graphic arts and can be viewed Monday to Friday in our reading room.

See also: William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), Album of sketches and drawings, [183-?], in the Robert H. Taylor collection of English and American literature, Rare Books Manuscripts Collection (MSS) RTC01 (no. 145)

Colonel Johnson VS Tecumseh in the War of 1812

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Henry Trumbull, History of the Discovery of America (Boston: J.P. Peaslee, 1828). Illustrated with hand colored wood engravings by Abel Bowen. Graphic Arts, Hamilton 446.

The Boston printmaker Abel Bowen (1790-1850) has been listed in this blog before. The graphic arts division holds nearly ninety books illustrated by the artist. This volume contains three prints, one of which is the remarkable fold-out of “A View of Col. Johnson’s Engagement with the Savages (commanded by Tecumseh) near the Moravian Town, October 5, 1812.”

While crude, the print give a vivid account of the war between the native Americans led by Tecumseh (1768?-1813), chief of the Shawnee, and the U.S. cavalry led by Colonel Richard M. Johnson (1780 or 81-1850). These same three cuts are also found in the 1819 edition of the book published in Boston by Stephen Seweel and in editions published in Boston by George Clark in 1822, 1830, and 1831.

Tecumseh was a widely respected war chief, whose given name was actually Tecumtha or Tekamthi, meaning Celestial Panther Lying in Wait. In 1795, he refused to sign the Treaty of Greenville, which ceded much of present-day Ohio to American settlers. Instead, Tecumseh attempted to form a confederacy of tribes for the purpose of holding the Ohio river as a permanent boundary to white settlers. He did not succeed. During the War of 1812, he fought to support the British and received a commission as brigadier general.

For more information, see Colin Gordon Calloway, The Shawnees and the War for America (New York: Viking, 2007). Firestone Library (F), E83.775 C355 2007

Bernard Picart


Engraved by Bernard Baron (1696-ca. 1766), after a design by Bernard Picart (1673-1733), Monument consacré à la postérité en mémoir de la folie incroyable de la XX année du XVIII. siècle [Monument consecrated to posterity in memory of the unbelievable folly of the 20th year of the 18th century], 1720. Etching and engraving with hand coloring. Graphic Arts (GA) French prints

The French/Dutch publisher and printmaker Bernard Picart specialized in book illustration, either for his own publications or for others. While Picart trained initially in Paris, establishing a studio on Rue St Jacques, au Buste de Monseigneur, in the late 1690s he found more work in the Netherlands. Picart turned Huguenot and settled in Amsterdam around 1711.

This print is one of several Picart published anonymously in the folio volume Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid or The Great Mirror of Folly, released in Amsterdam within months of the 1720 economic crashes of the stock markets of England, France, and the Dutch Provinces. The book was published without an author or a publisher listed, although many now connect the volume largely to Picart.

The British Museum describes this print as

“satire on the financial crisis in Paris in 1720; shows a street scene in the Rue Quinquempoix, a large crowd of people are pushing a cart with Fortuna, the cart is pulled by six allegorical figures representing various investment schemes, in the sky a figure of Fame is disappearing, and a devil is blowing soap bubbles; in the right background there is an office for selling shares in the left background there are three buildings with inscriptions ‘T’Ziekenhuis’ (Hospital), ‘T’Gekkenhuis’ (Asylum) and ‘Arm-Huis’ (Poor House),with engraved French and Dutch titles, inscriptions, and French and Dutch verses two columns”.

Frans De Bruyn (Reading “Het Groote Tafereel Der Dwaasheid”, Eighteenth-Century Life, XXIV (Spring 2000), pp.1-42, nn.30, 31) points out that the scene is in Amsterdam, not Paris, where the “English” or “French” coffee-house frequented by speculators was known as the “Quinquempoix.”

While this poorly colored print was found loose in our French prints drawer, the complete volume can also be seen at Graphic Arts GAX Oversize 2006-0014F

William Powhida's Graphic Satire

The galleries at Firestone Library are only used for collections owned by Princeton University. This saves us from the controversy facing the New Museum of Contemporary Art and its decision to exhibit a large amount of work from the private collection of one of its trustees.

This decision has not only led to a flurry of articles but the cover of the November Brooklyn Rail is devoted to William Powhida’s wonderful graphic satire of the principal characters involved. Powhida’s drawing is reminiscent of the newspaper covers printed in the early twentieth-century at the New York World. See: Nicholson Baker, The World on Sunday: Graphic Art in Joseph Pulitzer’s Newspaper, 1898-1911 (New York: Bulfinch Press, 2005). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize 2005-0624Q. I hope this trend continues.

For more information on Powhida, see

For more on the Brooklyn Rail, see

For more information on the exhibition controversy, see:

The Edison Mimeograph


Before the laser printer, before the Xerox, and before the carbon copy, there was the mimeograph machine. In 1876, Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931) filed a United States patent for autographic printing by means of an electric pen. A second patent further developed his system to “prepare autographic stencils for printing.”

Albert Blake Dick (1856-1934) licensed the patent and began manufacturing equipment to make stencils for the reproduction of hand-written text. In 1887, the A.B. Dick Company released the model “0” flatbed duplicator selling for $12. It was an immediate success. Dick named the machine The Edison Mimeograph.

Dick’s hinged, wooden box, measuring 13 x 10 ¾ x 4 ½ inches, has a large stenciled label on the top reading “The Edison Mimeograph invented by Thomas A. Edison, made by A.B. Dick Company, Chicago, Ill.” A series of patents are noted on the label, the last dated 1890. Inside the box are a printing frame (missing the screen), inking plate, ink roller, a tube of ink, and a tube of waxed wrapping paper. One container is empty, perhaps for a stylus and/or other writing tools.

A description of the process reads: “To prepare a handwritten stencil, a sheet of mimeograph stencil paper is placed over the finely grooved steel plate and written upon with a smooth pointed steel stylus, and in the line of the writing so made, the stencil paper will be perforated from the under side with minute holes, in such close proximity to each other that the dividing fibers of paper are scarcely perceptible.” This stencil was placed in the frame and when inked, produced a copy of the hand-written text on paper below.

The Edison Mimeograph Machine (Chicago, Ill.: A.B. Dick Company, ca.1890). Gift of Douglas F. Bauer, Class of 1964. Graphic Arts GA 2009. In process

Whistler's Venice

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), The Doorway, 1879-1880. Etching and drypoint. First Venice Set. Graphic Arts GA 2005.02127

In 1879, the American expatriate James Abbott McNeill Whistler received a commission from the Fine Art Society of London to complete a set of twelve etchings in Venice. Whistler left for Italy in September but rather than a three month sketching trip, the visit lasted fourteen months. During this time Whistler etched, primarily in drypoint, around fifty copper plates.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Nocturne: Palaces, 1879-1886. Etching and drypoint. Second Venice Set. Gift of David McAlpin III, Class of 1920. Graphic Arts GA 2005.02168

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), Garden, 1879-1886. Etching and drypoint. Second Venice Set. Gift of David McAlpin III, Class of 1920. Graphic Arts GA 2005.02162

Back in London, Whistler began to print from these plates, inking and wiping each impression personally. The “First Venice Set” (exhibited in December 1880 and published 1881) consists of twelve prints chosen from the fifty designs, each trimmed by Whistler to include his butterfly signature tab at the bottom. A “Second Venice Set,” consisting of twenty-six views, was released five years later. Whistler continued to print these plates until his death in 1903.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903), San Biagio, 1879-1886. Etching and drypoint. Second Venice Set. Gift of David McAlpin III, Class of 1920. Graphic Arts GA 2005.02174

In 1975, a complete set of the Second Venice was generously donated to graphic arts by David Hunter McAlpin III (1897-1989), Class of 1920. McAlpin worked as a lawyer and investment banker but his true passion was for collecting. He amassed one of the earliest collections of photography in the United States (now the core of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and Princeton University collections). In addition, McAlpin gathered an impressive set of old master prints, now divided between the library and art museum collections.

Jorge Luis Borges "His Last Prologue"

Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), El ultimo prologo de Jorge Luis Borges (Buenos Aires: Ediciones “Dos Amigos”, 1990). Graphic Arts Off-Site Storage. Oversize 2009- in process

“It has occurred to me that complete works are an error of commercial or academic origin,” wrote Borges in the prologue to this volume, “A man has a right to be judged by his brightest page, not by the distractions of his pen or his casual correspondence. I would like to be judged by the nine texts that follow or by the echo of those texts in memory.”

Eduardo Mayer published this trilingual edition in honor of the Argentine writer, essayist and poet. Borges chose the texts, which appear in Spanish, French, and English. Illustrations are by Josefina Robirosa (El Muerto), Rodolfo Ramos (Ulrico), Roberto Páez (La Espera), Norma Bessouet (La Muralla y Los Libros), Alica Scavino (La Intrusa), Gabriela Aberasturi (Fragmentos de un Evangelio Apócrifo), Vechy Logioio (La Luna), Julio Pagano (Utopía de un hombre que esta cansado), Libero Badii (Fue en Ginebra) and Luís A. Solari (Avelino Arredondo) The book concludes with an epilogue by Horacio Zorraquín Becú.

Washington Irving Footprints

Washington Irving Footprints. Text by Virginia Lynch. Drypoint etchings by Bernhardt Wall (New York: B. Wall, 1922). Rebound. Copy 116 of 250. Gift of David B. Long in honor of Gillett G. Griffin. Graphic Arts GAX in process

We are fortunately to have received the donation of another Bernhardt Wall (1872-1956) etched book, joining the eight already in rare books and special collections (see earlier post). It is a fine example of Wall’s publications, in which he not only drew the etchings for his books, but also printed and bound them.

Wall was an avid researcher of American history. He published biographies of several American presidents and various American writers, including Theodore Roosevelt, Warren Taft, Henry Coolidge, Sam Houston, Mark Twain, Thomas A. Edison, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Jackson. This is his biography of Washington Irving.

For more information on Wall, read Francis J. Weber, Following Bernhardt Wall: 1872-1956 (Austin, Tex: Book Club of Texas, 1994). Graphic Arts (GAX) Oversize 2005-0466Q

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