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Palatino's Tools of Handwriting

Giovanni Battista Palatino (ca.1515-ca.1575), Libro di M. Giovambattista Palatino cittadino romano: nel qual s’insegna à scriuere ogni sorte lettera, antica, & moderna di qualunque natione ([Rome: M. Guidotto & D. Viotto, 1556]). Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

Originally published in 1540 with the title, Libro nuovo d’imparare a scrivere, Palatino’s writing manual/encyclopedia of current writing styles became an immediate and popular success. It was reprinted several times and then, in 1545 a new revised and enlarged edition was published with 15 additional plates and more exotic alphabets.

The first printed writing manual was published in Rome by Ludovico degli Arrighi in 1522. The audience for this and others that followed was mostly secretaries. Palatino’s book somehow attracted a wider audience, with its chapter on cryptography and lettera mancina (mirror writing), recipes for ink, illustrations of a variety of writing implements, and so on.

According to Ewan Clayton in his essay “A History of Learning to Write,”

Palatino’s book is interesting for what it tells us about the ordinary writing of that time. Most documents in the sixteenth century were still written in varieties of Gothic cursive and Palatino illustrates examples of such hands from Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence, Sienna, and Genoa. …Writing was not as homogeneous as it is today and there were many different styles in use concurrently.

For other editions and translations at Princeton University, continue below.

Paul Sandby

Paul Sandby, Album of 18th-century Scottish etchings. Graphic Arts division (GAX) GA2008- in process

Called the father of English watercolor, Paul Sandby (1731-1809) was a founding member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London. This album stems from Sandby’s early Scottish period, when he was a draughtsman with the military survey of the highlands. It holds 75 etchings on 27 sheets, assembled and printed by the artist, with dates ranging from 1747 to 1758. The etchings are primarily landscapes, with occassional Scottish street characters intermixed. One holds the comment “etched on the spot P. Sandby 1750.”

The album, with late 18th century half calf and blue/greenish marbled paper covered boards, has no title page. The only identification is a book label reading “Fasque,” which is a Scottish country house in Kincardineshire, built in 1809. The estate was purchased in 1829 by Sir John Gladstone, father of William Gladstone.

The Stonemasons Guild of Strasbourg

Johannes Striedbeck (1707-1772), Certificate from the Stonemasons Guild of Strasbourg. Engraving. 1771. Graphic Arts division GA 2008.00111

This view of Strasbourg, France, set within an elaborate border, includes the arms of the Upper and Lower Alsace. There was once a large wax seal at the bottom center, no longer attached. The inscription reads:

Wir Geschwohrne Ober- und andere Meister des Ehrs. Handwercks derer Steinmetzen, Steinhauser und Maurer in der Stadt Strassburg bescheinen hiermit, das gegenwartiger Gesell Nahmens Johann Samuel Imhoft … .

A guild is an organization of men and women in a particular occupation. Guilds were first formed in the Middle Ages and craftspeople would have been unable to work without being a member of the guild. Members were bound by a code of quality and price, but could also obtain assistance from the guild, such as funeral costs. Guilds oversaw a craftsman’s progress from apprentice to master, maintained the quality and ownership of the craft. A stonemason’s “lodge” was located at the job site and was the place where masons gathered, received instruction, and stored their tools.

Until the capture of the city by France in 1681, the headquarters of the German stonemasons was in Strasbourg (even as late as 1760 the Strasbourg lodge still claimed tribute from the lodges of Germany).

Russell Means and The Great Mystery

Russell Means (born 1939), The Great Mystery [S.l.]: American Indian Mystery Press, 1997. Graphic Arts division GAX Oversize 2008-0030F.

When the Oglala Indian Russell Means finished his autobiography, Where White Men Fear to Tread (Firestone Library (F) E99.O3 M386 1995), he found there were things he left out. In particular, Means wanted to say more about the spiritual side of his heritage, a single creative life force sometimes called the Great Mystery.

Means wrote a series of short commentaries and his hand-written texts were converted to copper plate etchings. The words were matched with Native American portraits by Peter Bogardus and the plates printed in colors in Hadley, Massachusetts at Horton Tank Graphics. The Great Mystery was completed in 1997 but failed to reach a good distributor or a public. More than ten years later, a copy of this obscure project found its way to graphic arts.

For more about Means, see his website and personal blog: To see other work by Bogardus, see Touba - New York (Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2008-0012E)

Ticket to Pasquin: A Dramatick Satire On The Times

The Author’s Benefit Pasquin, etching, 1736 or after. Formerly attributed to William Hogarth; currently attributed to Joseph Sympson. Graphic Arts division GA 2008- in process

This print appears to be an admission ticket for a benefit performance of Henry Fielding’s Pasquin, first performed in April 1736. It depicts a stage scene with seven performers, a dog and a cat, and in the background, two tightrope walkers accompanied by an ape; framed with a satyr on either side.

Originally attributed to William Hogarth (a friend and colleague of Fielding), the etching is a forgery. It was later attributed to Joseph Sympson, although that attribution is also questioned by some historians. In particular, Ronald Paulson wrote two different explanations for this print in Hogarth’s Graphic Works, if you look at both the 1965 and 1989 editions (Marquand Library (SA) ND497.H7 A35 and ND497.H7 A35 1989q).

Henry Fielding (1707-1754) was a British writer, playwright and journalist. His satirical comedy Pasquin; A Dramatick Satire On The Times Being The Rehearsal Of Two Plays: Viz., A Comedy Called The Election, And A Tragedy Called The Life And Death Of Common Sense, opened at London’s Haymarket Theatre.

A year earlier, Fielding had taken over management of the Little Theatre in the Haymarket and formed a company he called “Great Mogul’s Company of English Comedians.” That winter, he launched Pasquin to enormous success. His play was a brutal satire of the contemporary British government under Sir Robert Walpole, who retaliated with the Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737 and effectively ended Fielding’s brief West End career.

It may have been this political drama that built a market for the forged Fielding ticket.

Basic Three Color Printing

Frederick Martin Sheldon, The Practical Colorist; a Pathfinder for the Artist Printer (Burlington, Vt., The Owl Press, 1900). Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process


“Believing that in the heart of every printer there is a strong desire to rise above the common level, out of the lethargic indifference of the past, into the joy of the aggressive artist printer, I have assembled the matter in The Practical Colorist as a means to this end. This book is not a text-book on the science of light and color … The book treats of nothing but the simple details essential to good work, but to one who aspires to success in illuminating, these details are, of all things, most valuable. In fact, The Practical Colorist, from beginning to end, is one earnest plea, by precept and illustration, for simple, plain, neat, and readable type and color effects.”—Preface, Frederick M. Sheldon





The Book of Questions

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), The Book of Questions (Pasadena, Calif.: Archetype Press, Art Center College of Design, 2001). Edition of 55 copies. Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

In 1973, a few months before his death, Neruda wrote over 70 poems based on simple, unanswerable questions. Libro de las preguntas (The Book of Questions) was published the following year. In 2001, printers at the Art Center College of Design’s Archetype Press were inspired to reproduce Neruda’s words as concrete poems in a virtuouso feat of creative typesetting. “This book,” states the introduction, “attempts to portray excerts from Pablo Neruda’s The Book of Questions, in a manner whereby the form and shape of both typography and the white space of the page combine to enrich the subtle nuances within the poet’s language.”

In which window did I remain watching buried time?

Rivers Pollution Prevention Act 1876

R. Angus Smith (1817-1884), Rivers Pollution Prevention Act, 1876. Second Report to the Local Government Board (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1884). Illustrated with woodburytypes. Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process.

The Scottish environmental scientist Dr. Robert Angus Smith (1817-1884) studied air and water pollution, coining the term “acid rain” in 1852. After working at the chemical laboratory at the Royal Manchester Institution, Smith was named the first Alkali Inspectorate by the Alkali Act of 1863. He went on to publish numerous texts on the control of urban pollution, most notably Air and Rain. The Beginnings of a Chemical Climatology (London: Longmans, Green, and co., 1872). Recap 85083.863

In 1876, an Act of Parliament was passed to attempt to control London’s water pollution. Smith was appointed the inspector to uphold the new laws. His methods for determining the number of microbes in water led to significant development in environmental science and law.

Seven mounted woodburytypes of Smith’s experiments were used to illustrate the 1884 second edition of Smith’s report to the government board. The prints were made by Vincent Robert Alfred Brooks (1814-1885) a lithographer who purchased the patent for Woodbury’s photo-relief process in 1879 and specialize in this method of book illustration through the turn-of-the-century.

Who Likes Our Biscuits?

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Album des célébrités contemporaines (Nantes: Lefèvre-Utile, ca. 1903). Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

Over 100 years ago, the French biscuit manufacturer Lefèvre-Utile (LU) promoted its cookies with endorsements from the leading celebrities of the Belle Époque. Embossed chromolithographed cards were issued with a prominent figure’s black and white portrait and their brief testimonial to LU’s cookie quality, set within a colored scene that is thematically linked to the personality portrayed.

The public was encouraged to collect these cards and LU produced elaborate art nouveau albums for that purpose. Each album carried a list of all the celebrities endorsing LU, which included artists, actors, writers, musicians, composers, and aviators. Princeton’s album holds 48 cards in preprinted mounts with an additional 10 laid in, including cards for Yvette Guilbert, Cleo de Merode, Coquelin Aine, Jules Massenet, and George Courteline.

Today, LU cookies are marketed with less fanfare under the Kraft Foods umbrella.

The Coming of the End of the World

Johann Virdung (ca.1465-ca.1535) Practica von dem Entcrist un[d] dem jungsten tag auch was geschehen sal vor dem Ende der welt (Ohne Ort: Speyer, Anastasius Nolt, 1525). Graphic Arts collection GAX 2008- in process

Johann Virdung was a mathematician and astrologer. In the early sixteenth century, he was working at the court of the Elector Palatine and making prognostications, such as this, on the Antichrist and the coming end of the world.

In the compelling title page woodcut, Christ is seen with a sword on the right side of his head and a lily on the left. The lily signifies innocence and mercy. The sword is a symbol of guilt and punishment. Together they represent the final judgment for the poor souls seen below, some being pushed into hell and some being saved.

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.

"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.

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

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

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