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One Million Buddhist Incantations

The 46th imperial ruler of Japan was Empress Kōken (孝謙天皇, Kōken Tennō) who ruled from 749-758. The eccentric queen suffered from depression and on the advice of her cousin, Fujiwara Nakamaro, finally abdicated the throne. Friends introduced her to a young, handsome Buddhist monk named Dōkyō and under his care, she made a miraculous recovery.

Kōken became devoted to this monk, brought him into the royal family as a Master of Healing, and (depending on which history you read) had an intimate relationship with him. Her cousin objected to the monk and led a rebellion. Nakamaro was killed and Kōken restored herself to the throne, this time under her father’s name, as Empress Shōtoku (称徳天皇 Shōtoku-tennō) in 764.

As a sort of penitence, she had one million dharani (Buddhist incantations or prayer charms) printed and one million tiny wood pagodas built in which to store the prayers. Completed around 770, these slips of paper—now held in collections around the world—represent some of the earliest printed texts. They are known as the Hyakumanto Dharani or one million pagoda prayers, and Princeton University library hold two.

The text consists of four Sanskrit prayers of the Mukujoko-kyo, entitled Kompon, Jishinin, Sorin and Rokudo from the Darani-kyo. Both the Scheide Library and the graphic arts division hold sections of the “short” Sōrin darani. (WHS E.1.2.1 and GAX 2009- in process).

Royal printers created eight relief bronze printing plates with the prayers transliterated in Chinese characters. At least 125,000 slips of paper were printed from each plate in order to complete the run of 1,000,000 prayers. The pagodas were distributed to temples around Japan as thanksgiving for the suppression of the Rebellion of 764.

A detailed article by Mimi Hall Yiengpruksawan “One millionth of a Buddha: the Hyakumanto Dharani in the Scheide Library” from the Princeton University Library Chronicle 48 (1987): 224-38, can be read in full at:

(*Note: this is a very large file)

New Technology of 1607

Vittorio Zonca (1568-1602), Nouo teatro di machine et edificij per varie et sicure operationi: co[n] le loro figure tagliate in rame é la dichiaratione, e dimostratione di ciascuna … (Padoua: Appresso Pietro Bertelli, 1607). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), Oversize 2004-1029Q

Today, new models of hardware are obsolute in a matter of years. It wasn’t until five years after his death that the first edition of Vittorio Zonca’s book on new machines was printed and published by Pietro Bertelli. Fourteen years later Bertelli’s son Francesco published a second edition using the same 42 copperplate engravings.

Three plates are signed: FV (i.e. monogram Francesco Valesio, born ca. 1560); Ben W sc (i.e. Benjamin Wright); and AH (or AHI or AI; monogram). The source for Zonca’s designs is believed to be a manuscript by the Sienese painter Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501), which includes illustrations of various fifteenth-century machines.

A good article about such books: Alexander Keller, “Novo Teatro di Machine et Edificii,” Technology and Culture (1988), p. 285-87. Firestone Library (F) 9030.898.

Other volumes in Princeton libraries of the “Theater of Machines” genre:

Jacques Besson, Theatrum instrumentorum et machinarum Iacobi Bessoni Delphinatis, mathematici ingeniosissimi (Lugduni: Apud. Barth. Vincent. …, 1582). 60 engravings by Jacques Androuet du Cerceau (fl. 1549-1584) and others. Rare Books (Ex) Oversize 9008.175f

Gaspard Grollier de Servière (1677-1745), Recueil d’ouvrages curieux de mathematique et de mecanique, ou, Description du cabinet de Monsieur Grollier de Serviere (Lyon: Chez David Forey …, 1719). Engravings Étienne Joseph Daudet (1672-1730). Graphic Arts Collection (GA), 2007-3659N

Jacob Leupold (1674-1727), Theatrum machinarum… (Leipzig: Druckts Christoph Zunkel, 1724-1788). MICROFILM 03959

Agostino Ramelli (1531-ca. 1600), The Various and Ingenious Machines of Agostino Ramelli, translated from the Italian and French … by Martha Teach Gnudi (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976). Rare Books (Ex) Oversize Oversize TJ144 .R313q

Johann Vogel (17th/18th century), Die moderne Baukunst (Hamburg: B. Schiller, 1708). Marquand Library (SAX): Oversize TH144 .W63 1708q

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.

Scenes from Shakespeare

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Henry William Bunbury (1750-1811), Twenty-Two Plates Illustrative of Various Interesting Scenes in the Plays of Shakspeare (London: Published originally by the late T. Macklin, sold by J. Nichols & son, [1792-1796]). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize Rowlandson 1792.2e

Around the end of the eighteenth century, the most successful London print shop was the Shakespeare Gallery, run by John Boydell. Their most famous project was a series of over one hundred extravagantly large engravings illustrating well-known scenes from Shakespeare’s plays. Boydell’s success led to many imitations, such as the Woodmason’s Shakespeare Gallery and the Irish Shakespeare Gallery. The most ambitious was the Poet’s Gallery, managed by Thomas Macklin.

Macklin hired the popular caricaturist Henry Bunbury to create a similar series of pen and ink and watercolor drawings to illustrate Shakespeare’s plays. Bunbury chose comic, often obscure scenes, emphasizing the outlandish and the ridiculous. His designs were engraved over five year by Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815), Peltro William Tomkins (1760-1840), Thomas Cheeseman (active 1780-1790), and Robert Mitchell Meadows (died 1812). The artists only finished twenty-two prints, which in the end was no real competition for Boydell.

See also Andrew White Tuer (1838-1900), Bartolozzi and his works: a biographical and descriptive account of the life and career of Francesco Bartolozzi, R.A. (illustrated): with some observations on the present demand for and value of his prints …: together with a list of upwards of 2,000 … of the great engraver’s works (London: Field & Tuer; New York: Scribner & Welford, [1882]) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize Rowlandson 953.2q

The Four Stages of Cruelty

William Hogarth, First Stage of Cruelty, 1 February 1751. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts GA113

William Hogarth, Second Stage of Cruelty, 1 February 1751. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts GA113

William Hogarth, Cruelty in Perfection, 1 February 1751. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts GA113

William Hogarth, The Reward of Cruelty, 1 February 1751. Etching and engraving. Graphic Arts GA113

William Hogarth (1697-1764) created this print series “in the hopes of preventing in some degree that cruel treatment of poor Animals which makes the streets of London more disagreeable to the human mind, than any thing what ever….”
The first plate finds Tom Nero (center) as a young boy torchering a dog.

Text transcribed:

While various Scenes of sportive Woe
The Infant Race employ.
And tortur’d Victims bleeding shew
The Tyrant in the boy

Behold a Youth of gentler Heart
To spare the Creature’s pain
O take, he cries — take all my Tart.
But Tears and Tart are vain.

Learn from this fair Example — You
Whom savage Sports delight
How Cruelty disgusts the view
While Pity charms the sight.

In the second plate, Nero is a young man working as a coach driver. He has been mistreating his horse, which now has a broken leg. All around them are examples of cruelty to animals on the public streets of London.

The generous Steed in hoary Age
Subdu’d by Labour lies,
And mourns a cruel Master’s rage,
While Nature Strength denies.

The tender lamb o’er drove and faint
Amidst expiring Throws
Bleats forth its innocent complaint
And dies beneath the Blows.

Inhuman Wretch! Say whence proceeds
This coward Cruelty?
What Int’rest springs from barb’rous deeds?
What Joy from Misery?

In Hogarth’s third plate, Nero has become a highway robber. He is being apprehended for killing Ann Gill, his pregnant lover.

To lawless love when once betray’d,
soon crime to crime succeeds:
At length beguil’d to theft,
the maid By her beguiler bleeds.

Yet learn, Seducing Man.’nor Night.
with all its sable Cloud.
Can screen the guilty deed from sight;
Foul Murder cries aloud.

The gaping Wounds, and blood stain’d steel.
Now shock his trembling Soul:
But Oh! what Pangs his Breast must feel.
When Death his knell shall toll.

In the final scene, Nero has been hanged and his body is being dissected in the Cutlerian theatre near Newgate prison. The public was invited to view these gruesome dissections and this scene reflects back on the first plate, where the young boys staged their own theater of gruesome operations.

Behold the Villain’s dire disgrace!
Not Death itself can end.
He finds no peaceful Burial-place;
His breathless Corse, no friend.

Torn from the Root, that nicked Tongue,
Which daily snore and curst!
Those Eyeballs, from their Sockets nrung,
That glori’d with lawless lust!

His Heart, expos’d to prying Eyes,
To Pity has no Claim:
But, dreadful! from his Bones shall rise,
His Monument of shame.

Hindu Gods

Hindu Gods ([India?: s.n., ca. 1850]). This volume consists exclusively of 78 hand-colored drawings of Hindu gods. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) ND2047 .H562 1850. Gift of Hibben (Class of 1924) and Mrs. Ziesing.

Théâtre des Champs-Élysées and La Revue Nègre

Paul Colin (1892-1985), Le tumulte noir (Paris: Editions d’Art Succès, [1927]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2003-0018E

Paul Colin created posters and stage designs for theaters throughout Paris in the 1920s. His favorite was the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, where La Revue Nègre performed led by the dancer Josephine Baker (1906-1975). In 1927, Colin was inspired by the Revue to create a portfolio entitled Le Tumulte Noir or The Black Craze. He drew his designs directly onto lithographic stones, which were printed in black, brown, or gray inks and then, hand-colored by the master of pochoir, Jean Saudé. The images include many figures of contemporary French popular culture, such as Maurice Chevalier, Ida Rubinstein, the film actress Jane Marnac, the theatrical caricaturist Sem, and others.

For more information, see the introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Karen C.C. Dalton in Josephine Baker and La revue nègre (1998). Marquand Library Oversize NE2349.5.C66 A4 1998q

Currently most requested item

Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863), Visit of St. Nicholas; illustrated by Thos. Nast (1840-1902) (New York: McLoughlin Bros., [1869]). Part of: Aunt Louisa’s big picture series. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), Oversize Hamilton 1142q

First Japanese Book Printed from Movable Type

Ariwara Narihira (825-880), 伊勢物語 (Ise monogatari or Tales of Ise) [S.l. : s.n., 慶長戊申 i.e. 1608?]. Second edition. Graphic Arts (GAX) 2008- in process.

“In 1593, in the wake of the Japanese invasion of Korea, a printing press with movable type was sent from Korea as a present for Emperor Go-Yōzei. …The printing press may have been offered to the emperor more as a curiosity than as a practical invention, but that same year he commanded that it be used to print an edition of the Confucian Kobun Kokyo (Classic of Filial Piety). Four years later, in 1597, a Japanese version of the Korean printing press was built with wooden instead of metal type, probably because of the difficulties of casting; and in 1599 this press was used to print the first part of the Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan).

By this time printing was developing into the hobby of the rich … and many editions began to appear. These editions, associated with Emperors Go-Yōzei and Go-Mizunoo and with such figures as Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu, were intended for presentation and not for sale. The finest printed books of the time were designed by the artist Hon’ami Kōetsu (1558-1637)… [and] the masterpiece of this press was the illustrated edition of Ise Monogatari (Tales of Ise) published in 1608.”

from Donald Keene, World Within Walls: Japanese Literature of the Pre-Modern Era, 1600-1867 (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, c1976) East Asian Library (Gest): Western, PL726.35.K4

Complete digital book:

Complete text, see:

Divine Books

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Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), The Divine Comedy; translated by Robert & Jean Hollander; illustrated by Monika Beisner (Verona: Valdonega, 2007). Copy 238 of 500. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2008-0109Q

Midway in the journey of our life
I came to myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.
Ah, how hard it is to tell
the nature of that wood, savage, dense and harsh —
the very thought of it renews my fear!

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), Dante’s Inferno: translations by twenty contemporary poets; frontispiece by Francesco Clemente ([Hopewell, NJ]: Ecco Press, 1993). Copy 21 of 125. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize PQ4315.2 .H28 1993q


Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Inferno / a verse translation by Tom Phillips with images and commentary ([London]: Talfourd Press, 1983). Copy 33 of 185. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2008-0003E

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), The Ante-Purgatorio; Cantos I-IX of the Purgatorio, English translations by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Original etchings by Jack Zajac (New York: Racolin Press, 1964). Edition of 215 copies. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0046E

It is so bitter death is hardly more so.
But to set forth the good I found
I will recount the other things I saw.
How I came there I cannot really tell,
I was so full of sleep
when I forsook the one true way.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri / the prose translation by Charles Eliot Norton ; with illustrations from designs by Botticelli (New York: Bruce Rogers & the Press of A. Colish, 1955). Copy 171 of 300. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2007-0376Q

The Princeton Dante Project:

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

George Washington 1732-1799

Charles Henry Hart (1847-1918), Catalogue of the Engraved Portraits of Washington (New York: The Grolier Club, 1904). “One of an edition of four hundred and twenty-five copies printed on American hand-made paper …” Graphic Arts division GAX 2008- in process

In 1904, the Grolier Club in New York City published a sumptuous, limited edition catalogue in honor of the centenary of George Washington’s death. The book features not only a complete listing of Washington portrait engravings but also 31 original mezzotint and photogravure prints.

Frank O. Briggs, of Trenton, N.J. purchased a copy, which eventually made it to the graphic arts division at Princeton University. Inside the front cover are a number of sheets of cream wove paper with the watermark of George Washington.

“Photogravure after mezzotint engraved by Valentine Green.”
“Engraved in mezzotint by S. Arlent Edwards from an original in oil, which was probably executed in 1798 or 1799.”

The Miliani Mill, Fabriano, Italy, created this watermark of Washington in recognition of the bicentennial celebration of his birth in 1932. Later, the Graphic Arts collection used it as a keepsake for their friends. The portrait is after a bust of Washington done by the sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon, who visited Mount Vernon in 1785. Houdon’s profile is said to have been one of Washington’s favorites.

“Photogravure after line engraving
attributed to John Norman.”

Alphabet pour adultes

Man Ray (1890-1976) Alphabet pour adultes (Paris: Éditions Pierre Belfond, 1970). Copy no. XVI of XXX hor commerce. 37 lithographs and one signed rayograph. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize ND237.R19 A46 1970f

Man Ray painted his first letter “Y” in 1923 as an homage to his friend Yves Tanguy. Even earlier, he contemplated creating an alphabet of Rayographs (photograms) but gave up the idea as too lengthy.

He eventually realized his project in 1947 in two entirely different versions. Alphabet was published by the Copley Galleries, Beverly Hills in 1948 and Analphabet was presented to a California collector around the same time. This second series of letters was published by Timothy Baum for Nadada Edition in 1974.

In 1970, at the age of 80, Man Ray completed a French edition, entitled Alphabets pour Adultes, seen here. The artist wrote, “A letter always suggests a word, and a word always suggests a book. There are words that are for every day use and there are words reserved for the more special occasions, for poetry … To make a new alphabet of the discarded props of a conversation can lead only to fresh discoveries in language.”

Western printing block

Full wood block Digital reverse image


Unidentified artist, Untitled wood block. American, ca.1900. 68 x 101 cm. IAN 83:36

We are trying to identify the artist or title of the woodcut made from this enormous woodblock. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Cuban postcards

Artists Unidentified. Postcards of Cuba, no dates but approximately 1900-1920. Graphic Arts division, GC141 Postcards Collection

The graphic arts division has a number of postcard collections, this one includes 2,393 postcards of Cuba. Most are collotypes and half-tone images, but a few have original photographs or prints. The collection now has a complete finding aid, thanks to the wonderful processing of Kate Carroll, class of 2009. Here’s a summary:

Box 1 Havana: homes, buildings, parks, plazas and surroundings.

Box 2 Havana: Views of the bay, harbors, main monuments, ships, fortresses, ramparts, aerial views and streets.

Box 3 Havana: Churches, monuments, cemetery, streets. Includes four famous postcards series, tourism ads, Bacardi and beer ads and patriotic propaganda related to the US and Cuba.

Box 4 Havana: Hotels, beaches, clubs, casinos, zoo, cabarets, restaurants, musicians, carnival, hippodrome, theatre, bull fights and cockfights.

Box 5 Life in Cuba and the country: Sugar cane industry, tobacco industry, homes, palms, rivers, transportation, soldiers, families, children, typical scenes, carriages, shops and street sellers.

Box 6 Cities from the interior: Pinar del Rio, Isla de Pinos, Matanzas, Cardenas, Varadero, Santa Clara, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, etc.

Box 7 Oriente: Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and other regions.

Box 8 Oversize.


Robert Burford (1791-1861), A Miscellaneous Collection of Panoramas and Others (London, 1821-32). 14 v. in 1. Graphic Arts division (GAX) in process

Panoramic displays, offering 360 degree views of exotic scenes, were enormously popular in the 1800s. Some were cleverly painted and lit to give the illusion of day turning into night. Some showed important historical events, such as battle scenes.

The panorama was invented about 1787 by the Scottish-Irish artist Robert Barker (1739-1806). From 1794 to 1863, his family ran an exhibition theater on Leicester Square, where the largest views were about 30 feet high by 90 feet across. Barker’s success led to many others such theaters throughout Europe and the United States.

Barker applied for a patent for his invention, which he called La nature à coup d’oeil, for “representing natural objects … designed so as to make observers, on whatever situation he may wish they should imagine themselves, feel as if really on the very spot.”

For more information, see the CUNY website:

No.1, Guide to the model of the battle of Waterloo.
No.2, A descriptive account of a series of pictures, representing some of the most important battles fought by the French armies in Egypt, Italy, Germany and Spain between the years 1792 and 1812.
No.3, Description of the Egyptian tomb, discovered by G.Belzoni.
No.4, Description du mausolée du maréchal Comte de Saxe, érigé dans l’Église de St.-Thomas, à Strasbourg.
No.5, Description of a view of the city and lake of Geneva, and surrounding country.
No.6, Description of a view of the town of Sydney, New South Wales; the harbour of Port Jackson and surrounding country.
No.7, Description of a view of the city of Florence, and the surrounding country.
No.8, Descriptive catalogue of the gallery of Europe & America.
No.9, Descriptive catalogue of the gallery of Asia & Africa.
No.10, Descriptive catalogue of the cosmorama panoramic exhibition, 209, Regent Street.
No.11, Description of the island and city of Corfu
No.12, Catalogue of the exhibition, called Modern Mexico.
No.13, Description of a view of the city of Mexico, and surrounding country.
No.14, Description of a view of the city of Edinburgh, and surrounding country.

Legerdemain Made Easy

Endless Amusements: or the Art of Legerdemain Made Easy to Young Persons (Boston: Theodore Abbot, 1846). Wood engraved cover and frontispiece illustration by Abel Bowen (1790-1850). Graphic Arts division (GAX) Hamilton 1533

The cover and frontispiece to this magic book were designed by Abel Bowen (1790-1850), a Boston printer. As an engraver he was self-taught and worked both in copper and on wood. A scrap of autobiography written by Bowen can be found in William H. Whitmore’s “Abel Bowen” in The Collections of the Bostonian Society, Boston 1887.Graphic Arts division (GAX) Hamilton 463

Bowen’s long career began at the age of 15 and he claimed he was the first to attempt a commercial wood engraving business in Boston. Nathaniel Dearborn made the same claim but it seems clear from Mr. Whitmore’s monograph that Bowen is entitled to be ranked as the first Boston wood engraver. Princeton owns 113 books with illustrations by Bowen, held in the Sinclair Hamilton Collection of American Illustrated Books from 1670 to 1870.


Posted for Professor Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones, “Topics in Latin American Literature and Ideology: Islands and Literature …”

Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, De Americaensche zee-roovers: behelsende een pertinente en waerachtige beschrijving van alle de voornaemste roveryen, en onmenschelijcke wreedheden, die de Engelse en Franse rovers, tegens de Spanjaerden in America, gepleeght hebben… First edition (Amsterdam: Jan ten Hoorn, boeckverkoper, over ‘t Oude Heeren Logement, 1678). Rare Books: Kane Collection (ExKa) Americana 1678 Exquemelin

Translated into Spanish in 1681, into English in 1684, and into French in 1686. The work went through numerous editions in its various versions and formed the foundation for many of the histories and romances of the buccaneers published during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Digital copy:

Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, Piratas de la America, y luz à la defensa de las costas de Indias Occidentales … / traducido de la lengua flamenca en española, por el Dor. Alonso de Buena-Maison, español, medico practico en la amplissima y magnifica ciudad de Amsterdam (Impresso en Colonia Agrippina [Cologne]: en casa de Lorenzo Struickman, 1681). Rare Books: Kane Collection (ExKa), Americana 1681 Exquemelin

Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, Bucaniers of America, or, A true account of the most remarkable assaults committed of late years upon the coasts of the West-Indies, by bucaniers of Jamaica and Tortuga, both English and French. Wherein are contained more especially, the unparrallel’d exploits of Sir Henry Morgan, our English Jamaican hero, who sack’d Puerto Velo, burnt Panama, &c. Written originally in Dutch, by John Esquemeling, one of the bucaniers, who was present at those tragedies; and thence translated into Spanish, by Alonso de Bonne-Maison … Now faithfully rendered into English (London: Printed for W. Crooke, at the Green Dragon without Temple-bar, 1684-1685). “This copy consists of the first English edition & the second vol. of the second English edition, the latter containing matter not in the first.” Rare Books: Kane Collection (ExKa) Americana 1684b Exquemelin

Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, The history of the bucaniers: being an impartial relation of all the battels, sieges, and other most eminent assaults committed for several years upon the coasts of the West-Indies by the pirates of Jamaica and Tortuga… (London: Printed for Tho. Malthus, 1684). Rare Books: Kane Collection (ExKa) Americana 1684 Exquemelin

Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, Piratas de la América, y luz a la defensa de las costas de Indias Occidentales: en que se tratan las cosas notables de los viages, descripcion de las islas Española, Tortuga, Jamayca, de sus frutos y producciones, política de sus habitantes, guerras y encuentros entre Españoles y Franceses, origen de los piratas, y su modo de vivir, la toma é incendio de la ciudad de Panamá, invasion de varias plazas de la América por los robadores franceses, Lolonois y Morgan (Madrid: Ramón Ruiz, 1793). Rare Books: Kane Collection (ExKa) Americana 1793 Exquemelin

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.

Western Americana and Music

In 1843, lithographer Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896) left the studio of Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888) to establish his own printing firm in New York City. From 1845 to 1857, he formed a partnership with Henry B. Major and together they found success printing and publishing fine art prints, maps, sheet music and much more. While the graphic arts collection does not hold the complete music sheets, we do have a collection of the lithographed covers to sheet music with Western American themes.

One is the Fort Harrison March, composed by Carl Heinrich Weber (1819-1892) and published by Balmer & Weber in St. Louis in 1848. The tinted lithograph with additional hand coloring depicts a scene from the 1812 battle of Fort Harrison. In preparation for an attach on Native Americans in Vigo County, Indiana, General William Henry Harrison ordered construction of a fort to protect the treaty line with Indian Territory. Later, when Indian forces attached Fort Harrison, Captain Zachary Taylor held them off until reinforcements arrived. History books list the battle of Fort Harrison as the first land victory of the United States during the War of 1812.

Also shown here is the lithographed cover for Death of Minnehaha composed by Charles Crozat Converse (1832-1918), with words from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “New Poem, Hiawatha” and published by Oliver Ditson & Company in Boston around 1856. The hand colored lithograph is by John Henry Bufford (1810-1870).

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  • Laurence Hilonowitz: I was a Customer, Friend of Bob Wilson. I Live read more
  • allen scheuch: Absolutely STUNNING! Those colors, those designs made my day! Thanks, read more
  • Olivier: Hello Diane, If you are still looking for an examplare read more
  • Stella Jackson-Smith: I have a framed picture by A.Brouet, signed with the read more
  • John Podeschi: I remember Dale fondly from my days at Yale (1971-1980). read more
  • Joyce Barth: I have some or all of this same poem. I read more