November 2010 Archives

Sheets of Evidence


The most beautiful book published in 2009 was Sheets of Evidence by South African artist William Kentridge in collaboration with Dieu Donné Press. When you come to see a copy in our reading room and begin leafing through its pages of pristine hand-made paper, all you will see is just that: blank paper.

The eighteen pages are, in fact, filled with drawings and text by Kentridge translated into watermarks with the assistance of Susan Gosin and Paul Wong. The concept was “to create a book whose surface revealed nothing, and instead encouraged the viewer to, not simply read between the lines, but to look beneath the surface.”

To create the watermarks, the drawings and text were scanned, digitized, and cut into adhesive-backed rubber watermarks, which were then adhered to wove moulds. Sheets were formed with short cotton linter pulp, pressed to 2300 psi, and stack dried on pellons at Dieu Donné Papermill. This non-profit artist workspace is dedicated to the creation, promotion, and preservation of contemporary art in the hand papermaking process. To see some of the completed pages, click here

William Kentridge, Sheets of Evidence (New York: DD Publishing Program in collaboration with Dieu Donné Press, 2009). Edition: 20. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

The Journal of Popular Noise

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The Journal of Popular Noise, edited by Bryon Kalet. Vol. one, issue 1-3 (spring/summer 2007) - . Graphic Arts (GAX) 2010- in process
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The Journal of Popular Noise, under the direction of Byron Kalet, “is a semi-annual audio magazine inspired by the traditions of pop music, printed periodicals, and the delight of a finely crafted artifact.” Produced in editions of 300, each issue includes a hand-folded (by Kalet himself), letter-press printed broadside that serves at once as scholarly journal, musical score, and record sleeve holding three seven-inch vinyls.

According to their website, instructions are given to each artist to contemplate during the composition and production of their record. These instructions are completely open to interpretation by the artists. Loosely based on the pop song structures canonized during the mid to late 20th century, the order of appearance is according to the standard format of a traditional magazine. To read the instructions on each track, see

In an interview, Kalet said, “I grew up playing music in Seattle, but abandoned that path … to move to New York and study design. I found that there was a lot of common ground between the rules that go into a good printed composition and those that go into musical ones. I think people have been exploring this overlap for a while (Kandinsky, Cage, and Eno to name just a few) but I don’t think anyone really took it out of the experimental or academic realm and tried to produce some pop culture version of it…”

Valentin Popov

Valentin Popov, 21 Original Etchings based on Ivan Turgenev’s The Torrents of Spring (San Rafael: Gordian Press, 2009). Gift of Dr. Gunther Haller and Lyhn Haller.

The Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) wrote The Torrents of Spring in 1872. Over one hundred years later, the Ukrainian artist Valentin Popov created twenty-one etchings to bring this novel back to life. The story is a romantic tale of Dimitri Sanin, a young Russian who falls in love with a seductive woman named Gemma while traveling in Europe.

Popov’s website tells us that the project was “originally begun in 1983 with a grant from the Academy of Fine Art of the USSR. The etchings took approximately three years to complete and in 1988 received the Academy’s Silver medal.”


Each hard-ground etching includes additions of dry point, aquatint, and/or burnishing. They are overprinted with a combination of transparent yellow and white inks. Each edition, designed by Stephen Black of San Rafael, is presented in a clamshell box covered in Japanese silk with a copper plate affixed in a debossed area on the cover.


Forty-two numbered sets were produced, with five additional Artist Proofs and three Museum Proofs. Graphic Arts has one of the Artist Proof editions. Firestone also holds a copy of Popov’s illustrated trade edition: Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev (1818-1883), The Torrents of Spring; illustrated by Valentin Popov; translated by Ivy and Tatiana Litvonov (New York: Grove Press, 1996). PG3421 .V5 1996.

For more images, see

Happy Thanksgiving


Les Gourmands, ca. 1815. Hand colored etching. Paris, Chez A. Noel; rue St. Jacques, no 16, au Pont des Arts. Graphic Arts French caricature.

The Paris publishing firm Noël Frères (active 1815-1830) is described by Dorothy George as “deeply obscure French publishers of caricatures.” This print is not listed in any of the other large caricature collections.

I Would Prefer Not To

Herman Melville (1819-1891) and Joseph Scanlan, Two Views (Brussels: Bartleby & Co., 2003). Copy 26 of 50. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

This artists’ book includes the stories “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville and “Window Stunt” by Joe Scanlan, Professor of Visual Arts in the Lewis Center for the Arts and Director of the Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University. Scanlan first wrote this variation on Melville’s short story in the course of nine straight days, transposing the New York City narrative to Chicago where he was living. The 2003 volume marks his third refinement on Bartleby, this time moving the story to Brooklyn, as Scanlan rewrites the same story over and over again in an effort to make it perfect.

Mr. Scanlan writes, “I was delighted when Thorsten Baensch proposed to me the idea of Two Views. His books are so beautifully realized that I was able to overcome the absurdity of publishing a short story of mine alongside Herman Melville. Thorsten pays great attention to detail and insists on reading being a hands-on experience, from the handmade storage box to the tipped-in plates to the color of thread for the binding.”

“Of course the coup de gras is the stereoscopic viewer that is “hidden” under the cushion for the book. It was my idea to include it—I liked the obvious play on the idea of “two views”—but it was Thorsten who knew there was an extensive stereoscopic image archive at Williams Collge, so he went there and would not leave until he found an image of Wall Street from the same era as Bartleby the Scrivener.”


The Beast as Described in the Revelations

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Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), after a design by G. Sauley of Farnham (active 1805-1806), The Beast as Described in the Revelations, Chap. 13. Resembling Napolean Bounaparte [sic], 1808. Hand colored etching. Graphic Arts caricature collection.

In 1808, Rowlandson began a series of prints for Rudolph Ackermann comparing figures from the Napoleonic Wars to those in the Book of Revolutions. The first was titled: The Corsican Tiger at Bay and the second: The Beast as Described in the Revelations; both completed in July. The Political Butcher followed in September, then Napoleon the Little in a Rage with his Great French Eagle, and finally in 1809, The Rising Sun.

In this print, a Spanish patriot is seen attacking a tiger with seven crowned heads. The first head is Napoleon, whose neck has been cut, causing him to vomit flames. Spain says “True patriotism shall thus subdue the monstrous beast and quell the rage of war!” The other heads are named Austria, Naples, Holland, Denmark, Prussia, and Russia. As crowns begin to fall, a woman, representing Hope, gathers them up in her apron.

Note the 666 on the tiger. If you write out the alphabet and give each letter a number: a=1, b=2, c=3, etc., then count the numbers for the name Napolean Bounaparte (perhaps the spelling is changed for that reason), you get 666. In this way, Napoleon become the biblical beast.

A Gift of William Steig Drawings

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The Graphic Arts collection is extremely fortunate to have received a donation of 187 original drawings by William Steig (1907-2003) from the Steig Family estate. These include cartoons for the New Yorker, drawings for his children’s and adult books, and some work that has never been published.


In his obituary, the New York Times noted that William Steig “graduated from high school when he was 15, and studied for two years at City College in New York, three years at the National Academy of Design and five days at Yale.” Art critic Sarah Boxer went on to note that “in the mid-1930’s, Mr. Steig began making ”symbolic drawings,” pen-and-ink works expressing states of mind. Like the poems of E. E. Cummings, they were subconscious excursions rendered on paper. When these drawings came out, nobody had seen anything quite like them.”


Steig sold his first drawing to the New Yorker in 1930 and has contributed more than 1600 cartoons to the magazine. His work joins drawings by other great New Yorker cartoonist in our collection, such as Henry Martin, Whitney Darrow Jr., George Booth, and many others. Our library also holds twenty-two books of his wonderful drawings, including Grown-Ups Get To Do All the Driving, Rejected Lovers, Agony in the Kindergarten, and of course, Shrek!


We are sincerely grateful to Ms. Jeanne Steig and the administrators of the estate for their generosity and assistance in making the donation possible. Please note that Ms. Steig is also a marvelous artist. See an interview at:


Drawings by William Marshall Craig

William Marshall Craig (ca. 1765- ca. 1834), Original Drawings by William Marshall Craig painter to Queen Charlotte & H.R.H. Duke of York, together with many of his coloured drawings for the Marquess of Stafford Gallery 1810-12 ([London, early 19th century, some dated 1803 and 1811]). Graphic Arts GA2010- in process


The British artist William Marshall Craig (ca. 1765- ca. 1834) painted miniature portraits of the royalty and the aristocracy of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century London. In this recently acquired sketchbook, we see nine wash drawings and forty-one hand-colored etchings, including “Pleasures of the Imagination” (above). The original poem (published 1743) is by Mark Akenside, but this drawing is oddly accompanied by three lines attributed to George Crabbe.

An illustration to The Tempest, (Act I scene ii), showing Prospero and Miranda (below) is the only drawing fully colored. The album was apparently compiled about a century after Craig’s death. Both the style and the bookplate, which is that of Sir Algernon Tudor-Craig (1873-1943), suggest that it was put together in about 1910-20. According to Christopher Edwards, Tudor-Craig was a herald and an authority on eighteenth-century Chinese armorial porcelain, but he also compiled a catalogue of the library of the Freemasons’ Hall in London.


Craig is best remembered for his course of lectures on drawing, painting, and engraving delivered and then published in 1821 (Firestone ND1130.C9).

The title page of that book recognizes him as “painter to his Royal Highness the Duke of York” and so, it is interesting that his introduction reflects on patronage, in particular. He writes, “Patronage is the proper nutriment of arts, but it should be patronage founded on solid common sense, and on feelings refined by contemplation; or, like deleterious food, it will excite bad habits, and unwholesome usages, in those who receive it.

…An artist may labour for years, and without ceasing to produce works of real excellence; but it is all in vain, unless he find persons qualified to appreciate his powers; and, on the other hand, when youthful talent begins to show its dawnings, the well-informed patron may greatly assist to guide and direct its course, till it arrive at meridian splendour.”


Stop smoking and send your cigarettes to Princeton

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Within GC149 Ephemera, graphic arts has a small collection of cigarette packages. Some are full and some are not. I think it would be a nice new years resolution for you to stop smoking and instead, send your cigarette packages to the collection at Princeton University. Clean, dry candy packaging and wine labels are also appreciated.


A Coffin Expedition

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Attributed to Charles Williams (1797-1830), The Coffin Expedition or Boney’s Invincible Armada Half Seas Over, 1804. Hand colored etching. Graphic Arts French prints.

In May 1803, Britain declared war against France and Napoleon I (who was known as ‘Boney’) prepared to invade Britain. The Napoleonic Wars lasted twelve years. In the beginning, the British were bold and laughed at the thought of a French flotilla trying to cross the channel. Williams transformed the French gunboats into coffins, with skulls on every mask. The French troops all wear shrouds, sailing to their certain death.

In the background are two British ships, from which comes the dialogue: “I say Messmate if we dont bear up quickly there will be nothing left for us to do,” and the reply, “Rigt [sic] Tom, & I take them there things at the mast head to be Boney’s Crest, a Skull without Brains.”

For more information, see A. M. Broadley, Napoleon in Caricature (London 1911). Graphic Arts Reference collection (GARF) DC203.4 .B8
Catherine Clerc, La caricature contre Napoleon (Paris 1985) Firestone DC203.4 .C57 1985

David Godine celebrates 40 years in publishing

“It began in a barn with one press and three smart people,” said the fine press publisher David Godine last night at the opening of an exhibition of his books held at the Grolier Club in New York City. While still in his early twenties, Godine rented an abandoned cow barn in Brookline, Massachusetts, for the price of one book a year. 1968 and 1969 were spent fitting it out with the basics—electricity, heat, and plumbing—before he, Lance Hidy, and Martha Rockwell could begin production.

David R. Godine Inc. had three basic guidelines: to offer a wide selection of books of editorial and textual importance; to produce books that delighted the eye and did not offend the purse; and to maintain the highest production standards.


One of their most ambitious early projects was Specimen Days by Walt Whitman (1819-1892). Because of the large edition size, the book was set at Stinehour Press and printed by Meriden Press. “We would be the architects, but not necessarily the builders,” writes Godine. A three-page rave review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review assured the book’s success. “The next day Richard Abel called from Oregon to order five hundred copies. We had never shipped more than three copies of anything to anyone in our history.” (GAX Oversize 2007-0365Q)

I am one of the fortunate few who walked away last night with a copy of the keepsake Godine wrote and printed for the occasion: David Godine: the Letterpress Years: Offprint from Matrix 29.


Princeton holds hundreds of Godine books, including eight of his rare imprints from 1969 printed at Leonard Baskin’s Gehenna Press, where Godine was an apprentice while still preparing his own shop:

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Civil Disobedience. Graphic Arts Collection (GA) HM278 .T45 1969

Stephen Spender (1909-1995), Generous Days. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-3567N

Joel Barlow (1754-1812), Hasty-pudding; a poem in three cantos written at Chambery in Savoy during January MDCCLXXXXIII. Graphic Arts Off-Site RCPXG-3164531

James Agee (1909-1955), Last letter of James Agee to Father Flye. Graphic Arts Off-Site RCPXG-3164614

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Plea for Captain John Brown. Graphic Arts Collection 2004-3568N

Beatrice Warde (1900-1969), Rescuing mouse: a speech. Graphic Arts 2010-0708N

Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), To his coy mistress. Graphic Arts Off-Site RCPXG-3169583

Arthur Freeman (1938-1970), Assays of bias. Rare Books (Ex) PS3511.R425 A9

For more, see:

Charting Ovid's Mythology

Carte pour conduire à l’intelligence de la Fable et server de secours à la connaissance de l’histoire, avec des explications et des instructions pour en comprendre le sens moral (Charts to help understand the Fable’s meaning and to help comprehend the History, with explanations and instructions to understand the moral direction), [1700s]. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts GA2010- in process

One sheet with fifty-two cards or vignettes illustrating and explaining the mythological narratives of Ovid. Each card has a short commentary, with a cumulative index and descriptions at the bottom of the page. Unlike some game prints, this sheet was not meant to be cut apart but to be used and studied as a single chart.

The characters come from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, such as Ocyroé or Ocyrhoe on the left, who was a daughter of Chiron and Chariclo. Apollo turned her into a horse because she was an excellent prophetess (Book 2, part 3).

For a longer illustrated view of Metamorphoses, see:
Ovid (43 B.C.E.-17 or 18 A.D.E.), Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books. Translated into English verse under the direction of Sir Samuel Garth by John Dryden [and others] (Verona: Printed for the members of the Limited Editions Club at the Officina Bodoni, 1958). Copy 1371 of 1500. The etchings were made for this edition by Hans Erni. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Z232.O33 O94 1958

Walt Whitman and Vojtěch Preissig

Walt Whitman (1819-1892), Salut au monde! Illustrated by Vojtěch Preissig (New York: Random House, 1930). Copy 129 of 360. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

The Czech artist Vojtěch Preissig (1873-1944) went to Paris in 1897 to work under Alphonse Mucha. When he returned to Prague in 1903, he opened his own printing studio and published the review Česká Grafika. From 1910 to 1930, he lived in the United States teaching graphic arts as well as acting as the director of the School of Printing and Graphic Arts, Wentworth Institute, Boston. Preissig worked with the resistance movement during World War II and died in a Nazi concentration camp.

One of his last project in the United States was an edition of Salut au Monde! (Hello to the World!) by Walt Whitman (1819-1892). He not only illustrated the poem, but designed a new type cut and cast by the State Printing Office in Prague.

O take my hand Walt Whitman!
Such gliding wonders! such sights and sounds!
Such join’d unended links, each hook’d to the next,
Each answering all, each sharing the earth with all.

What widens within you Walt Whitman?
What waves and soils exuding?
What climes? what persons and cities are here?
Who are the infants, some playing, some slumbering?
Who are the girls? who are the married women?
Who are the groups of old men going slowly with their arms about each other’s necks?
What rivers are these? What forests and fruits are these?
What are the mountains call’d that rise so high in the mists?
What myriads of dwellings are they fill’d with dwellers?

Frederick Evans' platinotypes for the Immortal Don

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), The History of Don Quixote of the Mancha. Translated from the Spanish … by Thomas Shelton, annis 1612, 1620. Introductions by James Fitzmaurice-Kelly, 1896 ([London: privately printed, 1913]). 4 volumes extra-illustrated with 99 platinotypes. Vol. 1 contains an addition title-page: “Illustrations to Cervantes’ Don Quixote by Arthur Boyd Houghton, 1866. Facsimile reproductions in platinotype of Dalziel Brothers’ woodcuts by Frederick H. Evans. Privately printed, MCMXIII.” Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

This four volume set of Don Quixote belonged to the photographer and bookseller Frederick Henry Evans (1853-1943). The set is extra-illustrated with 99 photographic facimiles of illustrations drawn by Arthur Boyd Houghton (1836-1875) and printed by the Brothers Dalziel (Edward, George, John, Margaret Jane!, and Thomas), the most influential British wood engraving firm in the 1860s and 1870s. Evans made these plates by photographing the ink prints and then, using the negative to make platium (photographic) positives.

According to a note from Evans, only three platium prints were made from each negative and then, the negative was destroyed. Evans printed and privately published this edition of three, as he did with a number of classic illustrated books in his personal library. Each volume has two Frederick Evans’ bookplates: one designed by F.C. Tilney and the other an adaptation of the Morte Darthur borders by Aubrey Beardsley (possibly authorized by the artist).

Evans also wrote: “The smaller drawings have been enlarged to make the set uniform in size. These drawings - the most imaginative, respectful and comedically heroic ever made for the immortal Don - have been reproduced in this beautiful photographic process expressly to illustrate the best English translation….”


And if that is not enough, laid-in is an autographed letter dated 1916, from Charles Ricketts. “Dear Mr. Evans, I remember you quite well and congratulate you on your reproductions of Houghton’s Don Quixote illustrations. …It may interest you to know that Whistler, who admired Houghton greatly, has a special liking for the Don Quixote series which he was the first to bring to my notice. Ever sincerely yours, C. Ricketts”.

Reproducing Versailles' Hall of Mirrors

“Protection accordée aux Beaux-Arts, 1663” in La grande galerie de Versailles, et les deux Salons qui l’accompagnent, peints par Charles Le Brun, dessinés par Jean-Baptiste Massé…. (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1752). Graphic Arts GA French prints

In 1662, the print makers of the Cabinet du Roi were organized to create an engraved record of the celebrations held by Louis XIV. Five years later, the charge was expanded to include an engraved record of every painting and sculpture owned by the King, along with his gardens, buildings, and the interior decoration of the residences.

The most spectacular work of the time was that of Charles Le Brun (1619-1690) who was Louis XIV’s principal painter and leader of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. Among his many projects was the decoration of the Galerie des Glaces (Hall of Mirrors), Le Grand Escalier (Grand Stairway), and other rooms, vaults, and niches at Versailles.

Beginning in 1723, the artist Jean-Baptiste Massé (1687-1767) undertook the project of copying the ceiling decoration of the Hall of Mirrors and accompanying rooms at Versailles, for the purpose of making a series of reproductive engravings. Massé was given special permission to build scaffolding in the apartments and spent over eight years at the ceiling carefully copying Le Brun’s designs. A number of engravers worked over twenty years to prepare and then, print the series of plates.

Completed in 1752, La grande galerie de Versailles et les deux salons qui l’accompagnent was published with 56 massive engravings on 52 plates. Two prints from this set are reproduced here. In the central oval on the print above, we see Louis XIV on his throne, Minerva on the left, and an allegorical figure of Eloquence (according to François Charpentier) kneeling on the right. The caption might be translated Protection Accorded the Fine Arts.

In The Reformation of Justice, 1667 (below), the central scene includes Louis XIV holding a book and scepter with Justice on the left, judges on the right, and La Chicane below his feet. For an extended reading of these and the other scenes in the Hall of Mirrors, see

“Reformation de la Justice, 1667” in La grande galerie de Versailles, et les deux Salons qui l’accompagnent, peints par Charles Le Brun, dessinés par Jean-Baptiste Massé…. (Paris: Imprimerie royale, 1752). Graphic Arts GA French prints

See also:
Charles Le Brun (1619-1690), Recueil de divers desseins de fontaines et de frises maritimes, inventez …([Paris, 1693?]) Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books Oversize NA9400 .L49f

Tapisseries du roy: ou sont representez les quatre elemens et les quatre saisons : avec les devises qui les accompagnent et leur explication (Paris: Chez Sebastien Mabre-Cramoisy … , 1679) Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books Oversize NK3000 .L46f

Charles Le Brun (1619-1690), Grand escalier du chateau de Versailles, dit Escalier des ambassadeurs (Paris: L. Surugue, [1725]) Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books Oversize NA1046 .L49e

A Post-Halloween Treat

James Gillray (1757-1815), A phantasmagoria; - Scene - Conjuring-Up an Armed-Skeleton, 1803. Etching and aquatint with hand coloring. GC108 James Gillray Collection. Graphic Arts GA 2006.01362. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.

Here we see Prime Minister Henry Addington (left), Charles James Fox (right background), and Lord Hawkesbury, the Foreign Secretary, as the three witches from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. The skeleton of Britannia that rises from the pot, where a British lion is being cooked, is the result of the Treaty of Amiens that was signed on March 27, 1802. The Treaty brought peace between the French Republic and England, although it only lasted one year.

The artist James Gillray, and many others, felt the Treaty left Britain without many of the strengths she once had. By 1803, tensions were again escalating and in January, Gillray added to the flames by publishing this print. Note the papers being feed into the fire are inscribed: Dominion of the Sea, Egypt, Malta, and so on, which are some of the things England had given up. By May a declaration of war was laid before Parliament and the Great French War began all over again.

Gutzon Borglum's portrait of Philip Ashton Rollins

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Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941), Philip Ashton Rollins, Class of 1889, no date. Bronze relief. Gift of Philip Ashton Rollins. Western Americana collection.

Philip Ashton Rollins (1869-1950) was born in Somersworth, New Hampshire, but spent a good deal of his youth in the American West, where he developed a fascination with its culture and lifestyle. Rollins graduated from Princeton University in 1889 and established a law practice in New York City. His continuing interest in all things Western led him to research and publish The Cowboy, An Unconventional History of Civilization on the Old-Time Cattle Range in 1933 and Jinglebob in 1928, among many other titles. He was also a benefactor of Princeton, serving as the chairman and co-founder of the Friends of the Princeton Library in 1930.

Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941), John Ruskin (1819-1900), 1903. Bronze sculpture. Museum object collection.

In 1947, Rollins and his wife presented the Princeton Library with a valuable collection of Western Americana, consisting of books and manuscripts on all aspect of Western life and culture. In addition, Rollins presented the library with his bronze relief portrait (above) created by Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941).

The American sculptor of Scandinavian descent is best known for his colossal sculptures, particularly the presidential portraits on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. Borglum’s works held in Princeton University collections are somewhat smaller but no less beautiful.

Borglum trained in Paris at the Académie Julian, where he formed a close relationship with the sculptor Auguste Rodin. After a stay in London, Borglum settled in New York City around 1901 and completed a series of small bronze figures including John Ruskin (left).

Our graphic arts collection also holds an untitled ink drawing by Borglum of a cowboy riding a horse on a desolate plane dated 1890. Borglum sailed to Europe on the Bourgogne in 1890 and the drawing includes the note, ‘On ‘La Bourgogne’ Sept. 1890. (Graphic Arts collection GA 2006.02368)

Four articles on Rollins and his collection are published in the Princeton University Library Chronicle IX, 4 (June 1948), pp 177-210.

See also the Philip Ashton Rollins manuscript collection WC001.

Waiting in line for your daily newspaper

William Endicott, lithographed after a drawing by H. F. Cox, Post Office, San Francisco, California. A Faithful Representation of the Crowds Daily Applying at that Office for Letters and Newspapers. Lithograph. New York: William Endicott & Co., [ca. 1850]. Graphic Arts GA2010- In process

The California Gold rush began in January 1848, bringing nearly 300,000 people to California. On November 9, 1848, the first San Francisco branch of the United States Post Office opened at the corner of Clay and Pike Streets. During the height of the gold rush, there was no delivery of mail to the mines or to the tent cities of Sacramento and Stockton. Miners had to come to San Francisco, where lines began forming early each morning for the 7:00 a.m. opening.

Notice that there are four lines. On the left, where the sign says “Espanol”, the branch offered Spanish speaking service. In the middle was general delivery and on the right box delivery. Around the corner to the far right was a door where daily newspapers were collected. By October 1849, more than 45,000 letters had piled up undelivered in this post office and the clerks had to barricade themselves in to protect themselves from the crowd.

Harry Twyford Peters (1881-1948), California on Stone (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company, inc., 1935). Graphic Arts: Reference Collection (GARF) Oversize NE2310.C2 P4 1935q

Ted Morgan, A Shovel of Stars: the Making of the American West, 1800 to the Present (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1995). Firestone Library (F) F591 .M865 1995

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