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American Sunday School Union

Unpublished album containing 1000 wood engravings. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize Hamilton 1674q

This album holds a collection of wood engravings used in books published by the American Sunday School Union (ASSU) of Philadelphia. Judging from the dates which occasionally occur, the period covered is from the early 1820s to 1831. All the cuts have been carefully organized chronologically and numbered in pen. Over 70 are by George Gilbert, along with designs by Reuben S. Gilbert, Christian F. Gobrecht (1785-1844), Alexander Anderson (1775-1870), and John Warner Barber (1798-1885).

This is book one of two volumes. The second album, beginning with 1831, is held by the Library Company of Philadelphia. Special thanks go to their rare book curator Cornelia King for her research on these sample books.

The ASSU was founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to promote early literacy and spiritual development of children, teaching them to read through the use of booklets published by the Union. The ASSU continued its publication program until l960 and some time later changed its name to the American Missionary Fellowship, which is how we know them today. Although the publications were meant to be nondenominational, many of the images tell biblical stories with a conservative leaning. No. 608 shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden with a note below: "Not to be used unless clothed."

Negro Suffrage 1866

Graphic Arts Broadside Collection

In 1866, the two candidates running for governor of Pennsylvania were Democrat Hiester Clymer (1827-1884), who ran on a white-supremacy platform, and Republican James White Geary (1819-1873), who supported Negro suffrage. This was a poster created by the Clymer campaign to discredit the Republicans.

Clymer spoke to a Philadelphia audience shortly before the election:

“Everywhere I beheld not only Democrats but Conservatives who had joined hands with us, and who had declared that the integrity of the American Union should be actually as well as in theory preserved. My fellow-citizens, the clouds of darkness are disappearing. Upon every hill-top and in every valley the watchfires of conservatism are burning brightly; and by the 9th of October I predict the glorious sun of victory will arise to shine upon the peace and happiness of our distracted country.”

The official voted was Geary: 307,274 and Clymer: 290,096. Geary served two terms as the governor of Pennsylvania from 1867 to 1873.

Face powder and cold cream


Jarden Lithographing Company, Catalogue and price list of original label designs, talcum wraps, and sachet envelopes in stock (Philadelphia: Jarden Lithographing Company, no date). Graphic Arts (GAX) 2008- in process

This sales catalogue from the Jarden company of Philadelphia offers 60 leaves of chromolithographic plates presenting 181 labels for hair tonic, face powder, cold cream, perfume, and more. The images are not pasted in but printed directly onto the pages.

Lithography was perfected in Europe during the 1790s but it was in American printing companies, such as Jarden in Philadelphia, where the commercial use of color printing really evolved in the second half of the 1800s. For the first time, relatively cheap color images became possible, surpassing the use of stencil or hand-applied color for commercial applications. Up to two dozen oil-based color inks might be used, each from a separate printing stone in perfect registration, to achieve a density and richness of tone. The integration of golds and silvers heighten the metallic shine of the final chromolithograph.

Graphic Candy

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On Thursday, November 11, 1971, The Daily Princetonian ran a story about an exhibition of candy wrappers at the Firestone Library. “As a boy,” the story begins, “Ephraim di Kahble, an elusive member of the Class of 1939, had a tremendous sweet tooth.” The reporter goes on to recount how Kahble’s father had encouraged the young boy to write to candy companies and collect their wrappers. A sizable collection resulted, despite an incident during World War II in which Kahble was almost court-martialed for impersonating a candy inspector and stealing chocolate from European factories. This collection was ultimately donated to the graphic arts collection.

In fact, Kahble was a fictitious student, whose exploits turn up in a variety of printed stories and Princeton records. He was the invention of Frederick E. Fox, class of 1939, who did indeed write to candy companies as a Princeton freshman and gathered a collection of wrappers.

The letterhead on the stationery from the companies who responded to Fox is almost as intriguing as the candy wrappers themselves. Happily, many of these letters have been preserved along with company ephemera in GC149: Printed Ephemera, Candy

Life and Death Masks

Lincoln Franklin Mendelson

Laurence Hutton was the dramatic critic for the New York Evening Mail from 1872 to 1874 and literary editor of Harper’s Magazine from 1886 to 1898. In 1897, he received the degree of A.M. from Princeton and presented the University with “a collection of over sixty death masks of distinguished men.”

“Mr. Hutton has been at infinite pains to make this collection as complete as possible,” reported The New York Times, “It represents the researches [sic] and untiring labor of over thirty years.” Hutton traveled around the world to collect these plaster casts, looking in obscure curiosity shops and major museums, where many curators granted Hutton permission to have copies made from their masks.

A complete set of digital images of these masks can be found at:

The collection began almost by accident while shopping in New York City. Hutton was interrupted by a ragged boy trying to sell a cast of a human face, unquestionably that of Benjamin Franklin. He purchased it for two shillings and offered another quarter if the boy showed him where he found it. In a couple of ash-barrels on Second Street were dozens of casts of Washington, Sheridan, Cromwell, and many others, which Hutton carted home.

Some years later, Hutton read an illustrated volume of lectures by the well-known phrenologist George Combe and was surprised to see reproductions of many of these same masks. Combe had come to the United States in 1838-39 and Hutton concluded that his collection had either been left behind or given to someone and then, years later, was discarded on the Lower East Side.

Hutton went to great lengths to gather historical documentation on his masks and wrote about the collection in articles, lectures, and a book entitled Portraits in Plaster. In his Talks in a Library he confirmed that, “with the exception of the cast of Shakespeare, the only cast in the collection which is not from nature is that of Elizabeth of England; and these two are preserved only because they are both supposed and believed to have been based upon masks from death.”

When Hutton died of pneumonia in 1904, his obituary in The New York Times, remarked once again on his death mask collection but did not mention whether provisions had been made to take a death mask of Hutton himself.

For a bibliography on Hutton and his collection, continue below.

Reading Distorted Type

Science 12 September 2008: Vol. 321. no. 5895, pp. 1465 - 1468.

In last week’s issue of Science magazine, Luis von Ahn and his colleagues write about CAPTCHAs, that is Completely Automated Public Turing tests to tell Computers and Humans Apart. An example is seen above, in which an image containing several distorted letters is presented to online users before they purchase tickets or join social networks. Each day, 100 million of these distorted words are decoded and retyped by you and me.

Their research explores whether this human intervention can be used to help such projects as Google books’ digitization of library collections. When the optical character recognition machines cannot decipher particular words, CAPTCHAs could be used to solve the distortion. Therefore, every time you order something online, Princeton and other libraries would benefit.

The complete text can be read at:

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.

Come and Join Us Brothers

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Come and Join Us Brothers, ca. 1863. Published by the Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments. Lithograph printed by P. S. Duval & Son. Graphic Arts division GA2008- in process.

Early in the Civil War, the Northern or Federal Army was desperate for more men. In his preliminary emancipation proclamation in the fall of 1862, President Lincoln announced that the federal government would enroll African American soldiers as of 1863. By the end of the Civil War there were 166 black units of infantry, cavalry and artillery totaling 185,000 men.

This lithographed poster is one of the best-known of the recruiting posters used to persuade African Americans to join the Northern Army. There are two versions; each has the same image but with different captions. The one held by the Princeton Library has the caption: Come and Join Us Brothers, while the other reads United States Soldiers at Camp “William Penn” Philadelphia. Camp William Penn was just north of Philadelphia and the largest facility for the organization and training of African American soldiers. Special thanks to Phil Lapsansky, Curator of Afro-Americana, at the Library Company of Philadelphia for the note that the original photo from which these posters were made appeared in the Civil War Times in July of 1973 but has since vanished.

For more information about the original photograph and a recent controversy surrounding it, see

Voting Rights Amendment

Thomas Kelly after James C. Beard, The Fifteenth Amendment. Celebrated May 19th 1870. New York, 1870. Lithograph with added watercolor. GA2008-in process

This print was designed to celebrate the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guaranteed African American men the right to vote. Its central vignette records a parade held in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 19, 1870, and peripheral vignettes feature portraits of Schuyler Colfax, Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, Ulysses S. Grant, and Hiram Revels. Also included are generic scenes of African Americans participating in various political and cultural activities.

Section one of the amendment reads:The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

Opposition to the amendment took many forms including intimidation and physical violence. Literacy tests were authorize, along with poll taxes, grandfather clauses excluding all whose ancestors had not voted in the 1860s, and other obscure regulations, all enacted to disenfranchise African Americans.

Taking the Stump

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Taking the Stump or Stephen in Search of His Mother (New York: Currier & Ives, 1860). Lithograph. Graphic Arts division GA2007.04097

This political cartoon sets Democrat Stephen A. Douglas against Republican Abraham Lincoln during the presidential campaign of 1860. From left to right, the figures represent John Bell of Tennessee (Constitutional Union party candidate); John A. Wise (influential Democratic governor of Virginia); Douglas; James Buchanan (Democratic incumbent president); John C. Breckenridge (Buchanan’s vice-president and Democratic candidate); and Lincoln.

An interpretation of the scene comes from Americana dealer William Reese:
The cartoon is a play on the word “stump,” serving as a colloquial expression for both campaigning and a wooden leg. In “taking the stump” to campaign, Douglas is handicapped by a pegleg; in a dialogue balloon he explains his condition to Bell and Wise by stating that he “fell over a big lump of Breckenridge, and have been very lame ever since.” In turn, Breckenridge has his right foot and lower leg wrapped in bandages, and Buchanan presents him with a pegleg, telling his Vice President, “Here, Breck, as Dug [Douglas] has taken the stump, you must stump it too.” Breckenridge, perhaps alluding to his poor showing at the Democratic Party’s May convention, replies, “I suppose I must, but I know it will be of no use, for I feel that I haven’t got a leg to stand on.” Lincoln, leaning against a symbolic split-rail fence and the only figure depicted in casual dress, declares to the others, “Go it yet cripples! Wooden legs are cheap, but a stumping won’t save you.”

More information: Bernard Reilly, American Political Prints 1766-1876 (1991) GA Oversize E183.3.R45 1991Q and Currier & Ives: a Catalogue Raisonne (1983) GA Oversize NE 2312.C8 A4 1983Q.

Early Cut-Paper Silhouettes

Long before Kara Walker, there were many folk artists practicing the tradition of cut-paper silhouettes. Pictured above is one page from an album of black paper scenes created by a young girl in memory of her visit to Yverdon in Switzerland. The book is dated Londres 3 Mai 1832 and includes 15 elaborate silhouettes cut from waxed black paper to fit the size of the page. The wax provides a shine that catches the light and adds depth and dimension, not often found in American cut paper work.

Most images are captioned, presumably by the artist, with one entry reading "A ma chere petite Elise en souvenir de son affcte LR." The album has one ownership insciption on the marbled pastedown of P. Atkinson, Belmont, Shipley, with a blindstamp on the free endpaper of the same address.

In 2002, the contemporary artist Kara Walker combined her own black paper silhouettes with the poetry of Toni Morrison for a limited-edition book entitled Five Poems (Las Vegas: Rainmaker Editions, 2002). The book is designed by Peter Rutledge Koch, and printed letterpress from digital imaging and photo-polymer plates at Peter Koch, Printers in Berkeley, California, in a signed edition of 399 numbered and 26 lettered copies. The graphic arts division holds no. 128 (GAX Oversize 2006-0733Q). More of Walker's art can be seen in a retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art through February 3, 2008.

The First Campaign Mud-Slinging?

James Akin (1773-1846). The Pedlar and his Pack or the Desperate Effort, an Over Balance. Philadelphia, 1828. Etching and aquatint with hand coloring.

On February 21, 1815, six militia men (all of the Tennessee militia) were court-martialed and executed while under General Andrew Jackson’s command. When Jackson ran for President of the United States in 1828, the incident was used against him by those in favor of his opponent, John Quincy Adams.

This satirical print depicts editor-publisher John Binn, who published a number of handbills that accused Jackson of arbitrary executions, as well as other violent acts. The anger campaign somewhat back-fired and led to pro-Jackson handbills and cartoons, such as this one. Binn is seen here supporting a load of coffins on his back, along with the figures of Henry Clay on the left and the incumbent President John Quincy Adams on the right. Binns: “I must have an extra dose of Treasury-pap, or down go the Coffins Harry, for I feel faint already.” Clay: “Hold on Jonny Q—for I find that the people are too much for us, and I’m sinking with Jack and his Coffins!” Adams: “I’ll hang on to the Chair Harry, in spite of Coffin hand-bills Harris’s letter Panama mission or the wishes of the People.”

This led to a full-blown mud-slinging campaign on both sides. Adams was accused of misusing public funds (he bought a chessboard and a pool table). In addition to the murders, Jackson was accused of adultery (his wife’s divorce papers were not finalized before their marriage). In the end, Jackson’s popularity grew and he won the election. The final electoral vote results were: Jackson 178, Adams 83.

A Memorial to President James A. Garfield


James Meyer Jr. The Late Administration … Our National Prosperity. Education, Church & State. God Reigns and the Government at Washington Still Lives. A Memento of 1881. Dedicated to the Memory of Our Honored Dead President and His Faithful Cabinet. New York: E.G. Rideout & Co., 1881. Color lithograph. 41 x 58 cm.

The commercial designer James Meyer created a series of broadsides, such as this one, as memorials to President James A. Garfield who was assasinated in September 1881. A smaller scale print was also commissioned by E.G. Rideout & Company and included in an issue of Household Journal (also called Household Guest Magazine) that same year. This is possibly in response to the fear of a nation-wide panic over two presidents being killed in the short span of 16 years.

The Shaving Machine that Never Caught On

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Unidentified British artist, Representation of the New Shaving Machine, Whereby a Number of Persons May be Done at the Same Time with Expedition Ease and Safety : Manufactured and Sold by D. Merry and Son, Birmingham. no date. Wood engraving. GA 2005.00992.

The references to the print are as follows:
A. A small barrel of soap suds;
B. Soap brush;
C. The razor;
D. The Master of the shop who directs the position of his customers faces. Here he is desiring the gentleman with the large nose to keep it more to the left, that is may be out of the way;
E. The Pinion wheel being turned round;
H. The machine is put in motion & brought to “E” and in passing along, the brush, followed by the razor, performs on the right cheek. The faces, the brush, & the razor, being then reversed, a contrary motion of the Wheel does the left cheek. And the faces being again turned to the front, the forebeard is done by the instrument at “I”, which finishes the shaving.

From Beef Bouillon to Chromolithography

The German chemist, Justus von Liebig (1803-1873), made major contributions to agricultural and organic chemistry, and is regarded as one of the greatest chemistry teachers of all time. In addition to his academic work, he invented a way of producing beef extract from carcasses, which could provide a cheap, nutritious alternative to real meat (we know this today as beef bouillon). In 1865, Liebig formed the Liebig Extract of Meat Company and, like many companies at the time, had a number of trade cards printed to advertise his business. More than 1,900 Liebig cards have been documented, containing pictures of animals, landscapes, or portraits of historical figures along with the company logo.

The graphic arts collection holds a large group of late 19th- and early 20th-century trade cards, among them one 1906 set of cards for Liebig’s company entitled Wie ein Liebig-bild entsteht. Each of the six cards depict one segment of the process of making chromolithographs, and the entire set is beautifully printed by chromolithography. Although I’m sure the Liebig extract of meat was very tasty, it is the views of chromolithographic process that make these cards of value to our collection. To see a wonderful exhibition on chromolithography, visit the Museum of Printing in Lyon, France, or their website:

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