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Pathé Baby


By the early 1920s, the Société Pathé Frères had built the largest film equipment and production company in the world. To increase their 1922 Christmas sales, they released the first projector meant for home use: the Pathé Baby. Kodak quickly released its own brand of home equipment and film, which found greater popularity and by 1935 Pathé was forced into bankruptcy.

The 9.5 mm Pathé Baby films come in small cassettes holding approximately 30 feet of film that plays for around 60 seconds. What makes it unique is that it has sprocket holes down the center rather than on the sides. The film also has an ingenious little notch cut into each title frame that triggers the projector to stop for a few seconds, even though the operator continues to crank the film, allowing viewers time to read the text.

Princeton's collection of optical devices, and optical prints and photographs, is basically a pre-cinema collection. However, thanks to the help of Professor Rubén Gallo, we recently acquired a 1920s Pathé Baby projector along with approximately 1,000 Pathé films, including natural history, animation, biography, current events, and multi-reel comedies and dramas.

Here is a sample (black & white, no sound):


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There is a group of enthusiasts based in the United Kingdom who still use 9.5 mm film. Their website is

Tree and Serpent Worship

James Fergusson (1808-1886), Tree and Serpent Worship, or, Illustrations of Mythology and Art in India in the First and Fourth Centuries after Christ (London: India Museum … , 1868). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2004-0934Q

Tree and Serpent Worship was compiled by the self-taught historian James Fergusson (1808-1886), who made his fortune at a young age in Calcutta and then devoted the rest of his life to his passion for Indian architecture. Fergusson befriended a number of the British officers who spent their time in India practicing the new art of wet-plate photography, such as Major Robert Gill (1804-1879) whose albumen prints were used to illustrate Fergusson’s 1864 edition of The Rock-Cut Temples of India (Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), 2007-2590N).

Another of Fergusson’s associates was James S. Waterhouse (1842-1922), who never used a camera before arriving in Calcutta. He became so accomplished that he was ultimately named surveyor-general to the monumental Survey of India. Under the sponsorship of the Indian government, Waterhouse spent eleven years—from 1864 to 1875—documenting the ethnic diversity of the people of India; work later replicated by Edward Curtis and others who joined the international mania for mammoth ethnographic studies.

During that same period, Waterhouse provided Fergusson with a group of images depicting the ancient Buddhist monuments in Sanchi, a small village in the state of Madhya Pradesh. The frontispiece of Tree and Serpent Worship shows Waterhouse’s image of the Northern gateway to the Great Stupa at Sanchi. This is the oldest of the religious stupas, or mounds, constructed in the third century BCE to hold the remains of the Buddha.

Along with 20 photographs by Waterhouse are 36 by W. H. Griggs (1832-1911), depicting Amravati sculptural fragments from the collection we now know as the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Early History of Photography

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), Some Account of the Art of Photogenic Drawing (London: Printed by R. and J.E. Taylor, 1839) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize TR144 .T34 1839q

In January of 1838, news reached William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) in London that Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) had announced his direct positive process to the Academy of Sciences in Paris. Talbot rush to present and publish his own findings and on January 31, Talbot read a brief paper before the Royal Society in London. Several weeks later, he spoke again at length about the process that he called photogenic drawing.

Unfortunately, the Society declined to publish his research on photography in their Transactions and it was not until the following year that the paper found its way into print (shown here). This brochure constitutes the first separate publication on photography.

Inside the copy held at Princeton University is a letter from Sir Edward Brewster (Principal of St Andrew’s University and Chancellor of Edinburgh) who was an amateur photographer and writes about the calotype process.

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877), The Process of Calotype Photogenic Drawing: communicated to the Royal Society, June 10th, 1841 ([London]: Printed by J.L. Cox & Sons, [ca. 1841]) Graphic Arts Collection (GA) TR395 .T34

It was not until 1841 that Talbot finally introduced the calotype process. Talbot again spoke to the Royal Society and the document pictured here is the publication of this “memoir” or talk presented on the creation of photography.

Princeton University holds many seminal publications on the history of photography from around the world. Also pictured here is the 1851 paper published by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard (1802-1872), introducing his variation on the calotype entitled Traité de photographie sur papier.

Wilson's Photographic Magazine

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Wilson’s Photographic Magazine (New York: E.L. Wilson, 1889-1914). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2007-0005M

In 1957, Princeton received a wonderful donation of photography books from David H. McAlpin, class of 1920. These included many reference books and serials from the Camera Club of New York’s library (sold in 1955); in particular a set of Wilson’s Photographic Magazine.

When Dr. Edward L. Wilson (1838-1903) began the publication The Philadelphia Photographer in 1864, it was the only photographic magazine in the United States. In 1885, the magazine’s name was changed to Wilson’s Photographic Magazine and its central offices removed to New York City. As Wilson’s Photographic, the magazine was published semimonthly from 1889 to 1892. Issues published on the first Saturday of the month included an original albumen print and those published on the third Saturday held a photogravure, photo-engraving, or photolithograph. Beginning January 1893, the magazine became a monthly and each issue included at least one original print.

The following is a brief section of Wilson’s obituary printed in The American Amateur Photographer:

“[Wilson’s] first service was to secure a modification of the copyright law of 1831 so as to include photographs. In 1865 he organized and led the opposition of the fraternity to the so- called Bromide Patent. This fight continued over several years and eventually resulted in the upsetting of the patent, by which decision photographers were freed from a grievous tax. The stamp law was modified in 1866 and completely removed in 1868. In this year Mr. Wilson was foremost among those who organized the National Photographic Association, of which the present Photographer’s Association of America is the successor. In 1873 the National Association held at Buffalo, N. Y. what was probably the most successful photographic gathering ever held in America. A special number of The Philadelphia Photographer, comprising some 224 pages, reported this convention in detail, being published within two weeks after the close of the Convention—a remarkable journalistic feat at that time.”

While most publishers content themselves with one form of illustration in any individual book, a few select titles include a variety of illustrative techniques. This account of surgical pratices during the American Civil War includes etchings, wood engravings, lithographs, chromolithographs, albumen photographs, heliotypes, and woodburytypes. In short, almost every reproductive process available at the time can be found somewhere within these six bound volumes. Here are a few samples.

United States. Surgeon-General’s Office. The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1870-1888). John Shaw Pierson Civil War Collection W Oversize W53.923q

Marquand Library acquires rare "Dutch Details"

Ed Ruscha (born 1937), Dutch Details (Deventer, The Netherlands: Stichting Octopus / Sonsbeek 71, 1971). 23 pp. with 116 photomechanical illustrations. Edition of 3,000. Marquand Library SPHX TR654.R872 1971q

Edward Ruscha’s books of sequential photomechanical images began in 1963 with Twentysix Gasoline Stations, (GAX 2006-2396N) published in an edition of 400 numbered copies under the imprint “A National Excelsior Publication,” funded by Ruscha himself. The 26 pages offer black and white images of gas stations along Route 66, which Ruscha had taken in 1962. The format had great appeal to him and he went on to produce several dozen other sequential image books over the next few decades. For many historians, Ruscha’s Gasoline Stations represents the beginning of the American artists’ books movement.

1971 was a busy year for Ruscha. He completed five paintings, along with books, films, prints, and drawings, and received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. Three books were completed this year: A Few Palm Trees, Records, and Dutch Details. The third was a commission by Sonsbeek ‘71, an international arts exhibition at the Groninger Museum, for which Ruscha was to create a work on site that would then be exhibited. As the plane was approaching The Netherlands, the pilot announced that the weather was bad and he would have more details soon. Ruscha thought, “Dutch details,” and that was the beginning of the project.

Unlike other book projects, Dutch Details is horizontal in format. The images are of bridges and the buildings taken with a hand-held camera. Although the Octopus Foundation published a large edition, the majority of the print run was mistakenly destroyed in a warehouse, and the remaining copies are now highly sought after by Ruscha collectors.

Ruscha said “I don’t want people to go look at these photographs after they are enlarged and they see them on the wall in museums, maybe under the auspice of a museum and consider them to be like a painting … The book, in the end, will be a closer representation of the project.”

An Album of Gems

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Cambridge album (Massachusetts: Remick & Rice, 1867). GAX 2007-0085S. Gift of Donald Farren, Class of 1958.

This Cambridge photograph album is dated 1867 and contains 205 gem tintypes, many with hand coloring. The word “Cambridge” on the title page does not refer to the photographs inside but was simply the album brand sold by Remick and Rice, the major producers of gem tintype albums. The album measures 3 1/2 x 3 1/4 inches; with each photo opening measuring 7/8 of an inch high by 5/8 of an inch wide, or about the size of a quarter. This size tintype would fit nicely into a locket, tiepin, or broach.

The tintype was patented in 1856 (thanks for the correction below) but not widely produced until a few years later. The format known as a gem or bon ton was usually made using a multi-lens camera with repeating back and was extremely popular in the United States during the 1860s. They were quick to make, inexpensive to buy (10 cents per dozen), and durable.

For more information, read: Janice Schimmelman, The Tintype in America, 1856-1880 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2007). TR375 .S35 2007.
For gem tintypes, see Marcel Safier’s page:

Walter Arnold, The Life and Death of the Sublime Society of Beef Steaks (London: Bradbury, Evans, & Co., 1871). 7 plates (incl. 6 mounted albumen silver prints). Graphic Arts division GAX 2008 in process.

“Like Briton’s island lies our steak,
A sea of gravy bounds it;
Shalots, confus’dly scattered, make
The rockwork that surrounds it.
Your isle’s best emblem these behold,
Remember ancient story:
Be, like your grandsires, first and bold,
And live and die with glory.”

I am posting this Saturday at 5:00 p.m., in honor of the weekly meeting of the Sublime Society of Beef Steaks. From 1735 to 1869, the 24 members of this London dining club, along with their 24 guests, met to eat a beefsteak dinner, drink plenty of wine and sing. Needless-to-say, it was for men only.

Their visual identity was the gridiron and as the location of their dinners changed over 134 years, the original gridiron of the society moved along with them. In each venue, it was ceremonially hung in the centre of the ceiling, over the presidents chair. An albumen photograph of the gridiron is seen above, tipped into Arnold’s book as its frontispiece.

Some of the best known members of the Sublime Society include David Garrick, William Hogarth, The Prince of Wales (soon to be King George IV), and Samuel Johnson. More about the group can be found at:
and in John Timbs (1801-1875), Clubs and Club Life in London. With anecdotes of its famous coffee houses, hostelries, and taverns, from the seventeenth century to the present time (London: Chatto and Windus [1872]). Firestone Library (F) 1465.906.11

The Chain Gang Abroad 1888

J.A. Chain, The Chain Gang Abroad: Around Europe with a Camera ([Denver?], 1888). Photograph album containing 274 mounted albumen prints (many with hand-coloring); captioned and embellished by hand; one photograph laid in. Graphic Arts division GAX in process

The Chain gang included J.A. Chain, a partner in the Denver Chain and Hardy Bookstore; his wife, painter Helen Henderson Chain (1848-1892); and their son Fred. The credit on the title page of this album implies that it was J.A. who created the albumen photographs, but there is good reason to believe the album itself was assembled and embellished by Helen.

Of the 19th-century western artists, Helen Chain was Colorado’s most prominent female painter. She settled in Denver in 1871 but traveled to Europe and to New York to study; in particular, spending one season working in the studio of George Innes. She illustrated several books, including John Lewis Dyer, The Snow-Shoe Itinerant. An Autobiography of the Rev. John L. Dyer. . . (Cincinnati, Published for the author by Cranston & Stowe, 1890). Rare Books: Western Americana Collection (WA) Rollins 0800.

This was a family of travelers, with Helen sketching and painting wherever they went. She was the first women to paint the Mount of the Holy Cross on site in 1877 and five years later, the first to exhibit New Mexico pueblo scenes at the National Academy of Design. The Chains joined photographer William Henry Jackson on a tour of Mexico in 1883 and he might have been their tutor in photography.

The 1888 trip to Europe, documented in this album, began in Dresden and proceeded through Nuremberg, Venice, Rome, and Switzerland. Classic views of well-known landmarks are mixed with very personal scenes, most notably one of Helen in bed with her feet protruding from an enormous comforter. These photographs are each trimmed and mounted with copious notes and decorative painted elements to create a unique, personal journal.

Souvenirs d'Orient 1878

Félix Bonfils (1831-1885), “St. Sophia at Constantinople,” Souvenirs d’Orient: album pittoresque des sites, villes et ruines les plus remarquables d’Athenes & Constantinople (Alais: Chez l’auteur, 1878). Graphic Arts division GAX 2008. Acquired with matching funds provided by the Program in Hellenic Studies with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund.

Completed in only five years, St. Sophia or Hagia Sophia is today a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. What began as a basilica, then a mosque, underwent a full restoration between 1847 and 1849, by the Swiss-Italian architects Gaspare and Giuseppe Fossati. In particular, the minarets were altered to make them equal in height, as seen in this photograph taken by Félix Bonfils taken in the 1870s.

Bonfils opened his first photography studio in Beirut in 1867, working together with his wife and son. They made numerous trips through Europe, the Middle East, and later the Far East. The photographs were sold individually and in luxurious bound albums published out of a second studio in Alès, France.

The introduction to this 1878 album states that the “collection of photographs of the Orient’s principal sites—initiated, executed and completed by Monsieur F. Bonfils with unequaled perseverance—should be regarded as one of the most considerable achievements—picturesque, artistic and scientific—of our epoch.”

For more information on the Bonfils business, see Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, “The Genius of Félix Bonfils,” Archaeology 54, no. 3 (May/June 2001).

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:

Princeton Acquires William James Stillman's "Athens"


William James Stillman (1828-1901). Athens, ca. 1869. Portfolio containing 25 albumen prints, each approximately 7 ½ x 9 ½ inches (19.1 x 24.2 cm.) or the reverse, numbered sequentially in the negative (lacking no. 17), photographer’s initials and date in a few negatives; two trimmed with arched tops, mounted on card with printed title labels (some foxing to mount of plate 1, not affecting image) University College London, ink collection stamps (cancelled) on reverse of mounts; in original black morocco portfolio (rebacked and relined with ties replaced), titled and with photographer’s credit Photographed by W.J. Stillman in gilt on top flap, overall size 18 3/8 x 14 ½ inches (46.7 x 35.9 cm.).

Thanks to the support of the Friends of the Princeton University Library, the Graphic Arts collection is fortunate to have acquired Athens, a rare nineteenth-century portfolio of albumen photographs focused on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. This scarce work by the American diplomat, journalist and photographer, William Stillman, is the product of a tragic, but artistically rich period in his life.

Following early careers as a painter associated with the Hudson River School and as founding editor of the art journal the Crayon, Stillman took up photography in 1859. Continuing as a journalist and travel writer abroad, Stillman put his skills as a photographer to use while serving as consul in Rome and Crete in the mid-1860s.

Stillman moved to Athens in 1868, where his young son died and his wife committed suicide. In response, Stillman devoted his life to his photography, executing this fine series of views of the Acropolis. A selection of 25 views from this series (with one small frontispiece image) was published in 1870 by the London firm, F. S. Ellis, printed in the carbon process by the Autotype Company. The title, as published, was The Acropolis of Athens: Illustrated Picturesquely and Architecturally in Photographs.

This portfolio pre-dates the publication of Acropolis and represents Stillman’s earliest work in attempting to capture both the history and the beauty of Greek architecture. As opposed to the 1870 publication, which was printed by the Autotype Company, these images are printed by Stillman himself using wet-collodion-on-glass negatives developed onsite and then, contacted printed to albumen-coated paper. The photographs themselves are at once documents of a civilization past and sublime elegies in light and shadow. They begin with distant views showing the imposing nature of the Acropolis within its city surroundings, and move closer with dramatic and picturesque studies of individual structures and sculptural details. The photographs include several figures, one of whom is thought to be Stillman himself.

See Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, “Athens. Photographed by W.J. Stillman,” Princeton University Library Chronicle, 70, no.3 (spring 2009): 399-432.

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