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The Great Mirror of Folly

Het groote tafereel der dwaasheid, vertoonende de opkomst, voortgang en ondergang der actie, bubbel en windnegotie, in Vrankryk, Engeland, en de Nederlanden, gepleegt in den jaare MDCCXX. Zynde een verzameling van alle de conditien en projecten van de opgeregte compagnien van assurantie, navigatie, commercie, &c. in Nederland, zo wel die in gebruik zyn gebragt, als die door de h. staten van eenige provintien zyn verworpen: als meede konst-plaaten, comedien en gedigten, door verscheide liefhebbers uytgegeeven tot beschimpinge deezer verfoeijelyke en bedrieglyke handel, waar door in dit jaar, verscheide familien en persoonen van hooge en lage stand zyn geruineerd, en in haar middelen verdorven, en de opregte negotie gestremt, zo in Vrankryk, Engeland als Nederland…
(The Great Mirror of Folly, showing the rise, progress, and downfall of the bubble in stocks and windy speculation, especially in France, England and the Netherlands in the year 1720, being a collection of all the terms and proposals of the incorporated companies for insurance, navigation, trade, &c. in the Netherlands, both those of which have gone into actual operation and those which have been rejected by the legislatures in various provinces. With prints, comedies, and poems, published by various amateurs, scoffing at this terrible and deceitful trade, by which various families and persons of high and low condition were ruined in this year, and possessions lost, and honest trade stopped, not only in France and England but in the Netherlands…).
[Amsterdam?] 1720. 131 p. in various pagings: 73 plates (part fold., incl. ports., maps, plans) 40 cm. Various pieces in prose and verse on the financial transactions of John Law and others, brought together under a general title-page. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0014F

Here are only 3 of the 73 engraved plates from The Great Mirror of Folly, offering satirical scenes in the rise, progress, and downfall of stocks in France, England and the Netherlands during 1720. The volume is also informally known as The Great Bubble Book after the speculator’s bubbles that burst, causing the first great stock market crash in September of that year. This is an unusual book for many reasons. It was issued without an author or publisher or even city of origin identified. Each individual volume appears to be a unique compilation of prints and texts, holding between 49 and 74 images from up to 56 different engravers.

To see more, Harvard University’s South Sea Bubble site, has a complete index, including digital images of their edition:

Paul Éluard (1895-1952). À toute
épreuve. Gravures sur bois de
Joan Miró
. Première édition
illustrée. Geneva: Gérald Cramer,
[1958]. 79 woodcuts by Joan Miró,
printed in Paris at Atelier
Lacourière; text printed by Marthe Fequet and Pierre Baudier. Image copyright Artists Rights Society (ARS)
The Princeton University Library is pleased to announce the acquisition of one of the most beautiful books created in the twentieth-century, À toute épreuve, with text by the French poet Paul Éluard and 79 original woodcuts by the Catalan artist Joan Miró.
The entire volume can be seen in the upcoming exhibition entitled, Notre Livre: À toute épreuve. A Collaboration between Joan Miró and Paul Éluard, in the Milberg Gallery for the Graphic Arts, Firestone Library, from February 22 to June 29, 2008.

To create this book, Miró cut over 233 woodblocks working over the better part of eleven years. He used planks of wood collaged with plastic, wire, old engravings and bark paper to achieve images that practically dance across the page. "I am completely absorbed by the damn book," wrote Miró to his publisher, Gerald Cramer, "I hope to create something sensational. . . ." The final volume has a brilliance of invention and a vitality of form and color, rarely found inside the cover of a book.

The exhibition opening will be celebrated on Sunday, March 9, 2008, with Elza Adamowicz, Professor of French and Visual Culture, School of Modern Languages, Queen Mary, University of London, presenting the talk "The Surrealist Artist's Book: Beyond the Page" in the Betts Auditorium, School of Architecture, at 3:00. A reception will follow at 4:00, in the Leonard L. Milberg Gallery for the Graphic Arts on the second floor of Firestone Library.

In the gallery, we will offer English language translations of the poetry, some by the Irish writer Samuel Beckett, who was a great admirer of Eluard's work. Here is a sample:

Villages de la lassitude
Où les filles ont les bras nus
Comme des jets d'eau
La jeunesse grandit en elles
Et rit sur la pointe des pieds.

Villages de la lassitude
Où tous les êtres sont pareils.

Paul Eluard
Villages of weariness
Where the arms of girls are bare
As jets of water
Where their youth increasing in them
Laughs and laughs and laughs on tiptoe.

Villages of weariness
Where everybody is the same

Translation by Samuel Beckett

Illustrated with Original Photographs

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During the nineteenth century, when photography was still a new art form, book publishers would cut and paste individual, original photographs into their books as illustrations. It was an expensive, time-consuming process and so, you might think it was only very limited-edition publications that were illustrated in this way. This is not the case. One reason we know this is is by looking at the Princeton University Library, where there are hundreds of examples of books—novels, textbooks, government documents—that include original, now historic, photographs.

H. Beaumont Small (1832-1919). The Canadian Handbook and Tourist’s Guide; Giving a Description of Canadian Lake and River Scenery and Places of Historical Interest with the Best Spots for Fishing and Shooting. Montreal, M. Longmoore & Co., 1867. Frontispiece by William Notman (1826-1891). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-1110N

We are now adding a special subject heading to books with original photographs in them to make them searchable in the main online catalogue. If you would like to try this search, go to and type: Photographs, Original—Illustrations in books into the search box. If you find books with photographs that has not yet been noted, please sent me the information and we will add the heading.

If you would like to browse a list of the titles we have been able to locate so far, continue with this posting below:

Boredom and how to avoid it in 1753

Unsigned engraving after Davide Antonio Fossati (1708-1780) in Giovanni Battista Passeri (1694-1780). Della Seccatura Discorsi cinque di L’Antisiccio Prisco. Dedicati a Nettuno. Venice: Pietro Valvasense, 1753.

This unsigned engraving, attributed as after the Swiss artist Davide Antonio Fossati, shows four boys playing a game of leap-frog; presumably the earliest illustration of this sport. It is one of six plates in Passeri’s discourse on the drying up of wit and entertainment at the time, which he dedicated to Neptune. If anyone has a theory on why Neptune, I’d love to hear about it.

Passeri, the Abbate of Pesaro, was an antiquarian, a philologist, and an archeologist. Each of the five discourses or sections describe a different form of boredom and are illustrated with a beautiful engraving suggesting a way to combat this fatigue. The book was written as a carnival satire, and partly presented to the academy of Pesara.

Besides publishing Della Seccatura Discorsi, Passeri has the distinction of having published the greatest catalogue of fake Roman terracotta lamps ever produced. The Marquand Art and Archaeology Library at Princeton University holds several of Passeri’s studies on Etruscan vaces:

Passeri, Giovanni Battista, 1694-1780, Lucernae fictiles Musei Passerii, 1739, Location: Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books, Call Number: NK3835 .P26f

Passeri, Giovanni Battista, 1694-1780, Mvsevm etrvscvm, exhibens insignia vetervm Etrvscorvm monvmenta aereis tabvlis cc. nvnc primvm, 1737 Location: Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books, Call Number: N5740 .G67q

Passeri, Giovanni Battista, 1694-1780, Serie di vasi tratta da vari musei d’Italia … rãpresentanti le pitture degli Etruschi, 1787, Location: Marquand Library (SA), Call Number: NK3845 .P26f

Passeri, Giovanni Battista, 1694-1780, Thesavrvs gemmarvm antiqvarvm astriferavm quae e complvribvs dactyliothecis selectae aereis tabvlis cc. inscvlptae observationibvs inlvstrantvr adiect, 1750, Location: Marquand Library (SAX): Rare Books, Call Number: NB1268 .G67q

All the World Going to See the Great Exhibition of 1851

George Cruikshank, 1792-1878. All the World Going to See the Great Exhibition of 1851. Etching, 1851. Signed at the center of globe.

This image first appeared in Henry Mayhew’s 1851 or The Adventures of Mr. and Mrs. Sandboys and Family, Who Came Up to London to ‘Enjoy Themselves,’ and to See the Great Exhibition (London: David Bogue, [1851]). The work includes ten etchings by George Cruikshank and a woodcut title page reproducing the design on the wrappers of the parts. Cruikshank is making fun of the approximately 25,000 people who attended the exhibition, which was conceived to demonstrate Britain’s status as an industrial power.

According to Cruikshank’s catalogue raisonne by Albert Cohn, Mayhew’s text was originally issued in eight parts in green wrappers, February-September 1851, and on completion in light blue stamped cloth, with a gilt design upon the spin. In the early issues there is an error in the pagination at p. 63, where in subsequent issues a leaf of advertisements is inserted to make good the omission on the numbering of the pages. The set was sold in parts for ten pounds and in blue cloth for four pounds.

College Comforts, A Freshman Taking Possession of his Rooms

[Isaac] Robert Cruikshank, “College Comforts, A Freshman Taking Possession of his Rooms,” in Charles Molloy Westmacott, The English Spy: an Original Work, Characteristic, Satirical, and Humorour. Comprising Scenes and Sketches in Every Rank of Society, Being Portraits of the Illustrious, Eminent, Eccentric, and Notorious. Drawn from the Life by Bernard Blackmantle … London: Sherwood, Jones, and Company, 1825-26.

This beautiful hand-colored etching is found opposite the lines: “Men are my subject, and not fictions vain;// Oxford my chaunt, and satire is my strain,” which precede Westmacott’s chapter entitled The Freshman, in part 4 of The English Spy. Note the “list of necessaries” being given to the young man as he enters his room.

For about 3 shillings in 1826, you could purchase the new installment of Bernard Blackmantle’s story (a pseudonym for Westmacott). This book has been described as “perhaps the most daring book every published”, since many of the characters were drawn from life, and were, at the time of publication, undoubtedly easy to recognize.

These 2 volumes are in the 24 original wrappers, each wrapper having on the front cover, a reproduction of the uncolored plate, “The Five Pincipal Orders of Society.” The set contains 72 colored plates, including 67 by Robert Cruikshank, 2 by Thomas Rowlandson, and one each by Wageman and Brightly; along with 36 woodcut illustrations. It can be seen in the graphic arts division, rare books and special collection: GA Cruik R 1825.3

Tom Phillips' Work at Princeton

Artist, composer, and scholar, Tom Phillips is currently in residence at the Institute for Advanced Study as a Director’s Visitor. His focus this fall is the production of Heart of Darkness, an opera-in-progress, music by Tarik O’Regan and libretto by Tom Phillips, based on the novella by Joseph Conrad. The opera will receive a semi-staged workshop performance on Friday, November 9 at 8:00 p.m. in Wolfensohn Hall. When a limited version was presented last year, The New York Times wrote “… a dense, dreamlike chamber opera heavily tinged with exoticism, like ‘Death in Venice’ on steroids.” More information can be found at:

Heart of Darkness is only the latest work from this multi-talented artist and Princeton is fortunate to hold many of Phillips’ other projects, books, and videos in its library collections. In particular, the 1985 trade edition of his Dante’s Inferno: The First Part of the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Phillips began illustrating and translating the Inferno in the late seventies, and published in a deluxe, limited edition in 1983. Demand was such that a trade edition was issue by Thames and Hudson two years later. Available in Rare Books and Special Collections, Graphic Arts division, GA Oversize PQ4315 .P45 1985q.

Dante’s Inferno represents the first and most famous part of the Divine Comedy (1308-21) and tells the story of the three realms of the dead. It is full of the gruesome punishments meted out to the unfortunate souls sent to Hell—as observed by Dante as he travels through the circles of Hell with his guide, the Roman poet Virgil. It is one of the few undisputed masterpieces of European literature and Phillips’ reinterpretation is one of the most remarkable artist’s books of the twentieth century.

Several years later, Phillips’ translation became the basis for A TV Dante (1989), a mini-series for the BBC, co-directed by Tom Phillips and Peter Greenaway. The series includes eight episode or the first eight cantos, up to the entrance to the city of Dis. The cast includes John Gielgud as Virgil, Bob Peck as Dante, Joanne Whalley as Beatrice. Historical commentary is provided by Ian Armstrong, David Attenborough, Jim Bolton, Nicholas Campion, and others. Available at the Language Resource Center (VIDL): Video Coll. East Pyne, VCASS 631.

Norden's "Travels in Egypt and Nubia"

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Frederick Lewis Norden (1708-1742). Travels in Egypt and Nubia. First English edition. Translated from the original and enlarged with observations from ancient and modern authors by Peter Templeman (1711-1769). London: printed for Lockyer Davis and Charles Reymers, 1757. 159 full page engravings by Marcus Tuscher (1705-1751). Provenance: John Cleveland (1734-1817). Purchased with matching funds provided by Rare Books and Special Collections, Maps Division, Rare Books Division, and Graphic Arts Division.

The Danish Naval Captain and explorer, Frederick Norden sailed to Egypt in 1737-38 to surveyed the architecture, agriculture, and other curiosities of the country. He was the first European to penetrate as far as Derr in Nubia, and produced the first coherent maps of the country. Seventeen years later, long after Norden’s death, his maps and drawings were published by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, under order of Frederick V of Denmark, as Voyage d’Egypte et de Nubie (1755). Two years later, the physician and naturalist Peter Templeman completed an English translation, which was published in two folio volumes.

Thanks to the combined resources of the Maps Division, Rare Books Division, and Graphic Arts Division of Rare Books and Special Collections, Norden’s seminal work in now part of the Princeton University Library collection.

Penmanship in the Seventeenth Century


Top: Louis Senault, Livre d’écriture representant naïvement la beauté de tous les caracteres financiers mainten[an]t a la mode. Avec un traité, contenant les veritables moyens pour apprendre facilement à bien escrire, et parvenir en peu à la connoissance de cet art (Paris: chez N. Langlois, [1668]). Bottom: Louis Senault, L’écriture en sa perfection: representée naiuement dans tous caractères financiers et italiennes bastardes nouuellement à la mode (Paris: chés F. Poilly, [c. 1670?])

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, “writing masters” would produce manuals of perfect calligraphic script that students would copy over and over until they had a perfect hand of their own. Often the masters would try to out-do each other with elaborate flourishes and decorative elements added to the standard alphabet. The engravers who produced these manuals were superb technicians, able to cut even the most complex italic curves with equal amounts of flamboyance and grace.

The graphic arts collection is fortunate to have acquired two early writing books engraved by Louis Senault. We can see the date 1668 in one plate from the top volume and so, date it accordingly. Senault engraved approximately ten similar books between 1660 and 1693. None of the writing books published under his own name are dated, and, as David Becker remarks in his wonderful reference source, The Practice of Letters, their bibliography is further complicated “by both the apparent interchangeable use of engraved writing samples in different publications and the existence of different engraved versions of writing samples having deceptively similar texts.”

Each of these volumes includes a complete alphabet, along with decorative grotesques and animal figures. The second edition above gives particular emphasis to “Italian bastarde,” the hand used in French archival documents from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, notable for the characteristic wavy, free lines of the letters.

Senault is also noted for producing a fully engraved and very decorative book of hours, first published around 1680, and also available at Princeton University.

"Your House" by Olafur Eliasson


Olafur Eliasson. Your House. New York: Library Council of The Museum of Modern Art, 2006. Copy 135 of 225.

“Reading a book is both a physical and a mental activity. It is like walking through a house, following the layout of the rooms with your body and mind: the movement from one room to another, or from one part of the book to another, constitutes an experiential narrative that is physical and conscious at the same time.” So begins Olafur Eliasson’s commentary in the prospectus for his 2006 book Your House, recently acquired for the graphic arts collection. This extraordinary artist’s book was published for the Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art in an edition of 225 and sold out within a week of its release.

The subject of the book is Eliasson’s home in Hellerup, Denmark. Each page of the book has been laser-cut to reproduce a vertical cross-section of actual physical space of the house on a scale of 85:1 (so that each leaf corresponds to 2.2 centimeters of the actual house). The interior of the volume forms a sort of reverse to the traditional three-dimensional architectural model—a non-dimensional model formed of negative space—as well as an inverse to the traditional pop-up book.

The physical volume is an oversize cube of perfect white paper. Outside of its colophon, the book’s 454 handbound leaves (908 pages) hold no words or printing, no color or inserted material; in fact, no images or marks of any kind. Only a complex series of holes cut into the paper, through which the reader looks. Unlike the tunnel books of the nineteenth century, there is no central image at the back that is the single focus of the book. With Eliasson’s volume every opening holds a unique view ahead into the coming pages and behind through the previous ones.

One of the Great Botanicals

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Priscilla Susan Bury. A Selection of Hexandrian Plants: Belonging to the Natural Orders Amaryllidæ and Liliacæ from Drawings by Mrs. Edward Bury, Liverpool. London: R. Havell, 1831-1834. Elephant portfolio, bound in dark green three-quarter goatskin with green moiré silk sides.

The other day I was looking for books by the botanical artist Priscilla Susan Bury (1799-1872) in our library catalogue. I now understand that one must first search under her husband Edward, where you will find a listing for Bury, Edward, Mrs. This will be Priscilla.

Born Priscilla Falkner, in Rainhill, Lancashire, Mrs. Bury had no academic training in either Art or Botany. She grew up drawing plants raised in the greenhouses of her family home east of Liverpool. In 1829, she proposed to a few friends that she publish these drawings in a book called simply Drawings of Lilies. The drawings were to be lithographed and the book to be sold for 5 guineas.

Amazingly, two years later the first of ten fascicles was indeed published, but with a new title and a new printing process. Now called A Selection of Hexandrian Plants, the job of reproducing Bury’s drawings was taken over by Robert Havell, Jr. (1793-1878). He used the same aquatinting process he was concurrently using to complete John James Audobon’s Birds of America. Like Audobon’s project, Havell reproduced Bury’s drawings on large plates (64 x 48 cm.) printed in vibrant colors and then, later finished by hand in watercolor. Havell was also the book’s publisher and Audubon was listed among its subscribers. It is unclear whether Bury subscribed to Audubon’s book.

Greenwich Village History in Etchings

Bernhardt Wall, Greenwich Village Types, Tenements & Temples (New York: printed by the author, 1921). Etchings. Graphic Arts collection, Princeton University. GAX Oversize 2006-0915Q

Bernhardt Wall, sometimes called the American William Blake, was born in Buffalo, New York on December 30, 1872. He worked as a commercial illustrator in New York and Buffalo, making a name for himself with a series of popular, comic postcards. In 1915 Wall took a trip to the Southwest and used the sketches he made to create a group of copper-plate etchings. Wall printed them in an edition of 50 and bound them into small volumes. He made the unusual choice of also printing the text from the copper-plates rather than letterpress, saving the need to print each sheet twice. The innovative volumes proved a great success and a turning point for his career.

Wall became not only author and artist, but designer, printer, binder, publisher and distributor of little books. Success allowed him to travel widely, in particular the American Southwest, and at the height of his career he kept working studios in New York, Houston (TX), Lime Rock (CT), and Sierra Madre (CA).

OCLC reports 141 books by Wall (Princeton University Library owns nine) including two completely etched magazines he attempted. This first, Wall’s Etched Quarterly, lasted through only three volumes in 1921. Later, when Wall moved to Lime Rock, Connecticut, he tried again with The Etched Monthly, which ran from 1928 to 1929. Wall’s neighbor in Lime Rock was the master printer and paper historian Dart Hunter, with whom Wall became great friends.

There are several issues of Wall’s Greenwich Village, each of the same set of images. The first appeared in 1918 in an edition of 100 copies. Online sources offer no evidence of a second edition, but in 1921 Wall published 50 copies of a “third state” (Princeton owns copy no. 7), using the fine art term to indicate that the plates had been slightly alerted. A third edition was released in 1947 limited to 50 copies. A complete bio-bibliography has been written by Francis J. Weber, entitled Following Bernhardt Wall (1974).

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