Recently in Acquisitions Category

John Baptist Jackson (1701-1780?), An Essay on the Invention of Engraving and Printing in Chiaro Oscuro, as Practised by Albert Durer, Hugo di Carpi, &c., and the Application of It to the Making Paper Hangings of Taste, Duration, and Elegance (London, 1754). Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

In 1745, the English chiaroscuro printer John Baptist Jackson (1701-1780?) returned to London and found work designing calico cloth. After six years, he saved enough money to established a wallpaper manufacturing company hoping to revolutionize the industry. To help promote his work, Jackson published two books on printing: Enquiry into the Origin of Printing in Europe (London, 1752) and Essay on the Invention of Engraving and Printing in Chiaro Oscuro (London, 1754).

The latter has an eight page essay and eight color plates (with desciption), printed from multiple woodblocks with oil-based inks. It sold for two shillings and sixpence. On the title page Jackson printed his favorite passage from Pascal’s Thoughts: “Ceux qui sont capables d’inventer sont rares: ceux qui n’inventent point sont en plus grand nombre, et par conséquent les plus forts.” This has been very loosely translated as “For those who are capable of originality are few; the greater number will only follow and refuse glory to those inventors who seek it by their inventions.” Unfortunately, Jackson’s business was forced to close shortly after the volume was published.

For more on Jackson, see an earlier post: John Baptist Jackson

John Henning metal relief plaque binding

John Henning, Jr. Large metal relief plaque designed for the upper cover of a bookbinding. 1822. Attached to a folio album with blank sheets. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

The Scottish sculptor John Henning (1771-1851), first saw the Elgin marbles at Burlington House on a visit to London in 1811. He stayed for the next twelve years copying the Parthenon reliefs. “I began to draw,” he wrote, “on August 16, 1811, which fixed me in the mud, dust, and smoke of London. I was so fascinated with the study, that I was there by sunrise every morning except Sunday, and even the cold of winter did not mar my darling pursuit.”

Henning began working in wax, then carving in ivory, and finally making slate moulds, from which plaster models were cast. By 1821, he completed enough to begin selling his casts, which were housed in mahogany cabinets with nine drawers to hold the series. The cost was £42 for a set approximately two inches high by twenty-four feet long.

Unfortunately, Henning failed to register for copyright on his work and thousands of reproductions were pirated and sold, bankrupting the poor sculptor. He went on to produce the the screen at Hyde Park Gate (1827) and the frieze around the Athenaeum (1830) in Waterloo Place but ultimately, died in poverty.

This metal relief, designed for the upper cover of a bookbinding, is signed Henning F 1822 (f stands for fecit or made by). The plaque contains two relief panels from his Parthenon series and two decorative angels. This might have been one of the many ways he hoped to market his reproductions of the Elgin marbles, although we have not found other examples of bookbindings by Henning.

Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön

Ines von Ketelhodt and Peter Malutzki, Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön [Lahnstein, Oberursel and Flörsheim: von Ketelhodt and Malutzki, 1997-2006]. 50 volumes. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

“If our foresight is not mistaken, a hundred years from now someone will discover the hundred volumes of the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön,” wrote Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986) in the epilogue to his 1941 story Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius. Borges’ words led the German artists Peter Malutzki and Ines von Ketelhodt to work from 1997 to 2006 (re)constructing the Second Encyclopedia of Tlön in a fifty volume, limited edition set. Each volume, although uniform in format, is unique in concept and execution. Even the bindings vary in material and printing, while each spine is labeled with the first four letters of its keyword from A to Z.

The artists write,

“Because our system of order was the alphabet, we of course wanted all letters to be represented in the end. We did realize that we could only do justice to our presumptuous ambition of packing the whole world into fifty volumes in details and fragments; but we hoped the found shards would give a notion of the whole structure.”

“Borges’ story, to which we owed the encyclopedia’s title, played an important role as a source of inspiration, but we could present the idealistic world of Tlön only mirrored on our own world. Already in the first volumes quotes from Borges’ had sporadically flowed in. But only after some years did we realize that … a substantial part of the Tlön-text, distributed over the various volumes, had found its way into the encyclopedia, and we then decided to gradually incorporate the complete text in the encyclopedia; like a red thread, so to speak, that winds its way through the project in intricate paths.”

For more information, see their website:

Not all the cataloguing records in OCLC are correct in their details and so, the artists have written us a note to set the record straight, which I share with their permission:

“The project was done and published equal by Ines von Ketelhodt and Peter Malutzki from 1997 to 2006. Each one of us did 24 volumes, two volumes are collaborations of the two of us. The colophons of the single volumes will tell you who did it, where, in which year.”

“Although Ines was member of the group Unica T for many years as Peter was of the FlugBlatt-Presse these groups or presses have nothing to do with the publication of the encyclopedia. At the beginning we decided to publish the project under the name Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön, nothing else you’ll find in any colophon of any volume.”

“Concerning the place of publishing there are three: Peter worked from 1997 til 2003 in Lahnstein, Ines from 1997 til 2001 in Oberursel, later we both moved to Flörsheim so the last volumes until 2006 were produced in Flörsheim. So one can say Lahnstein, Oberursel and Flörsheim are the places where we produced the encyclopedia.”

Along with the fifty volume Enzyklopädie, the artists have prepared a separate exhibition catalogue offering information on the history, development and production of the project. Each volume is described in detail with its theme, imagery, and texts. Note to collectors, if you can’t purchase the entire set, the exhibition catalogue can be purchased separately.

Peter Malutzki and Ines von Ketelhodt, Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön: ein Buchkunstprojekt von Ines von Ketelhodt und Peter Malutzki 1997-2006 ([Flörsheim am Main: the artists, 2007). Exhibition catalogue published to accompany exhibitions of the Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön project. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

Special thanks to Ben Primer, David Magier, and Patty Gaspari-Bridges who helped make this acquisition possible.


“Drawing [as a preliminary to the art of writing] is not only a pleasing amusement, but a genteel and useful accomplishment: and where there is a taste or inclination for it, youth seems to be the proper time to indulge it.”

Here are three new writing and drawing manuals, which offer “practical hints” and models for young penmen. These books are a gift from Donald Farren, Class of 1958, to whom we are sincerely grateful.

Edwin D. Babbitt (1828-1905), The Science & Art of Penmanship (New York: Newman & Ivison, 1852). Graphic Arts (GAX) 2010. in process

Howard’s Large and Small Round Text Copies: with the New Rules for Learners (Newburyport [Mass.]: Pub. & sold by Thomas & Whipple booksellers, 1805). Graphic Arts (GAX) 2010. in process.

William Edward Shinton, Lectures on an Improved System of Teaching the Art of Writing: by the Aid of which It May Be Acquired, Both in Theory and Practice, in One Third of the Time Usually Devoted To It Under the Rules of the Old System: to which Are Added Practical Hints to Young Penmen (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown …, 1823). Graphic Arts (GAX) 2010. in process.

Jan van den Velde I (1568-1623), Spieghel der schrijfkonste (Mirror of the Art of Writing): in den welcken ghesien worden veelderhande gheschriften met hare Fondementen ende onderrichtinghe Wtghegeven (Amsterdam: Willem Iansz, inde vergulde Zonnewyser, 1609). 25 x 34 cm (oblong folio). Fifty-seven engravings including the engraved title page, an engraved portrait, and fifty-five leaves of calligraphic samples. *Note the putti pulling goose feathers to make writing pens.

Thanks to the assistance of the Friends of the Princeton University Library, graphic arts recently acquired a rare, complete third edition of this important Schrijfmeesterboek (writing-master’s book) from the Golden Age of Dutch art. Written and designed by Jan van den Velde I, this edition was printed by cartographic publisher Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) with a title page cartouche designed by the artist and art historian Carel (Karel) van Mander (1548-1606) and engraved by the engraver and publisher Jacob Matham (1571-1631), along with fifty-five sample plates engraved by Simon Wynhoutsz Frisius (also written Vries, ca. 1580-1629).

The first edition appeared in 1605 published by van den Velde’s brother-in-law, Jan van Waesberghe II, in Rotterdam. The same year a second edition was published in Amsterdam by the printer and publisher Cornelis Claesz. The third edition was published by the no less famous printer Willem Janszoon Blaeu, after Blaeu acquired the original plates from the Claesz heirs. For an unknown reason, an extra plate by van den Velde has been added to this particular copy.

From the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries, two types of writing books predominated in Europe: the writing manual to offer instruction in how to make, space, and join letters as well as how to choose paper, cut quills, and make ink; and the copybook with engraved plates of writing models to be copied. Writing manuals and copy books are a top priority for library graphic arts collections, including Princeton University, to serve as a resource for the international study of letterforms.

Van den Velde’s volume is both a writing manual and a copy book, offering instructional texts as well as an extensive set of model plates with examples of all the different hands in use throughout Europe at that time. Written in Dutch, German, French, English, Italian, Spanish, and Latin, van den Velde not only covers the alphabets but also includes ornamental penwork confirming his dazzling mastery in the fusion of script with the calligraphic decoration.

As with many of these beautiful writing books, Spieghel is at once an artifact offering exceptional examples of high Dutch engraving and a research tool for undergraduate and post-graduate instruction in the history of letterform.

To his credit, van den Velde himself provides analysis as to the type of study his book would or should receive. In part three, he begins with a sustained discussion of the national hands that function both as treatise and manual, defining the criteria of mastering penmanship and diagramming, stroke by stroke, how different alphabets are formed. He justifies his reputation by noting that mastery consists not in specialization but in the ability of wield multifarious hands “I know well that what I teach here will be examined scrupulously by many fastidious souls, who will gravely proof my writing specimens as well, preferring to find fault rather than improve; I pray them to observe the good differentiation of hands before blaming the liberality of my pen, for though there will be those who have flown beyond the limits of my instruction, so they will find my book well governed, containing neither confusion nor scandal. Poets have their license, philosophers their exceptions, and painters their ornaments, so too with the pen, by degrees the quick and supple hand spreads its wings wider than that hand which writes an upright or heavy letter.” (Translated by historian Walter Melion in his wonderful article “Memory and the Kinship of Writing and Picturing in the Early Seventeenth-Century Netherlands,” Word & Image 8, no. 1 (January-March 1992))

Stanley Morison, writing in Calligraphy 1535-1885, commented, “The Spieghel’s format is of exceptional size. Van den Velde’s book is a magnificent specimen, not only with regard to the specific period it represents, but also in relationship to the entire history of calligraphy as an art. Of special note are the plates containing the Gothic letters, showing unique mastery in the fusion of the script with the calligraphic decoration.” Walter Melion wrote, “In scale, richness of ornamentation, and sheer number of specimens, the Spieghel is the most elaborate of these exemplaer-boechen.” Victor I. Carlson, in his essay for the Baltimore Museum’s 2000 Years of Calligraphy summed it up, “Van den Velde’s copy-book … is usually considered the most important work on calligraphy to be printed in Holland.”

John Heartfield's photomontage posted in honor of Goldman Sachs Group

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968), So macht man Dollars (Berlin: Malik-verlag, 1931). Translation of Mountain City by Paul Baudisch (born 1899), with cover montage by John Heartfield (1891-1968). Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

Toward the Infinite White

| 1 Comment

Jean Arp (1886-1966), Vers le blanc infini [Toward the Infinite White] (Lausanne, Paris: La Rose des Vents, 1960). Eight etchings with aquatint printed by Georges Leblanc; letterpress poems printed by Féquet et Baudier. Copy 395 of 499, signed by the artist. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

In the last years of Arp’s life, he created two beautiful livres de peintres. Ver le blanc infini begins with an etching, followed by a poem, followed by an etching, and so on. Eight poems interspersed with eight prints. Neither is the print an illustration of the poem, nor is the poem a reaction to the print. The works were created by the same man and represent his late period art, but are in no way an integration of image and text. In this way, Arp obstructs the convention of the livre de peintre just as the prints and poems confound his self-defined practiced of automatic (free-conscious) writing and drawing.

A Warning Against American Cocktails

Blanc et rouge. Design by Paul Iribe (1883-1935) and text by Georges Montorgueil (1857-1933). (Paris: Draeger frères, 1930). Graphic Arts GAX2001 -in process.

Graphic Arts recently acquired three rare promotional wine catalogues from the Parisian merchant Nicolas. Each is beautifully designed by Paul Iribe, who was best known for his Art Deco costume, furniture, and fabric designs. Iribe began his career as a cartoonist and humorist. Work as an illustrator for French periodicals such as Le Temps, Rire, Sourire, and L’assiette au beurre, led to commissions in fashion illustration, most notably designing for Paul Poiret and his 1908 Les Robes de Paul Poiret.

These wine advertisements were done shortly after Iribe returned to Paris after working in Hollywood from 1914 to 1929, where Cecil B. De Mille is quoted as saying Iribe was the best Art Director he ever worked with.

The first catalogue, Blanc et Rouge, is set in a Paris jazz club and written entirely in dialogue, instructing the consumer to choose a French wine and stay away from other drinks.

Rose et noir. Design by Paul Iribe (1883-1935) and text by René Benjamin (1885-1948). ([Paris]: Etablissements Nicolas, 1931). Edition of 500. Graphic Arts GAX2010 -in process.

The second catalogue, Rose et Noir, has an odd storyline for a wine advertisement. Its narrative follows newlyweds through a downward spiral, brought on by the effects of too many American cocktails (and not enough French wine). Laid in is a booklet written by René Benjamin entitled, “Dialogue moderne en trois temps et trois cocktails” (Modern Dialogue in Three Time and Three Cocktails).

Bleu blanc rouge. Design by Paul Iribe (1883-1935). ([Paris]: Etablissements Nicolas, Draeger Frères, 1932). Edition of 520. Graphic Arts GAX2010 -in process.

The final volume, Bleu Blanc Rouge, has a cover printed in the colors of the French flag. Large folding plates with striking black and white designs argue against foreign drinks such as Russian vodka, German beer, British whiskey, and American Blue Rock mineral water. French wine again comes to the rescue in the end.

Pierre Belon's Early Natural History of Birds

Pierre Belon (1517-1564), L’histoire de la natvre des oyseavx, avec levrs descriptions, & naÏfs portraicts retirez du naturel: escrite en sept livres (Paris: Gilles Corrozet, 1555). Seven parts in one volume with 161 woodcuts, including a portrait of Belon, two skeletons used as diagrams to compare the structure of man and bird (seen below), and 158 large cuts of birds. It has a contemporary calf binding with fillets and decorative roll tools, and a fore-margin with contemporary manuscript title “P. BE / LON / L.HIS / TOIRE / DES / OISEA / UX. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process. Purchased with funds from the Henry Matthews Zeiss Memorial Book Fund.

Pierre Belon studied medicine in Paris and became the pupil of the botanist Valerius Cordus at Wittenberg. When Cordus died in 1544, Belon returned to Paris and came under the patronage of François de Tournon, who subsidized his study and extensive travel. With this support, Belon prepared a book on fish in 1551, trees in 1553, and this bird study in 1555.

According to Ruth Mortimer, “Belon’s text, as one of the first of its time to be based on direct observation and original drawings, is a major work in the field of natural history…” A pioneer in comparative anatomy, Belon attempted to match the names of birds used by Aristotle and Pliny with the species then in France (hence the captions in Greek). The book is one of the first ornithological compendiums to be based, in part, on field observations and many of the woodcut bird portraits were taken from actual specimens.

There were two issues of this book in 1555, divided between publishers Gilles Corrozet, who held the privilege, and Guillaume Cavellat. Belon, in his address to the reader, states that various artists contributed to the illustrations, although he names only Pierre Goudet (i.e. Pierre Gourdel). Blocks from this work were used again in 1557 for the first part of Belon’s Portraits d’oyseavx, animavx, serpens, …, also published by Cavellat.

The printing office of John Fowler of Leicester

Receipt Book of the Caxton Printing Offices, Leicester, 1818-1868. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

A large receipt book for John Fowler’s (later called Caxton) Printing Offices in Leicester, Great Britain, was recently acquired. Through its more than 350 pasted-down items relating to 50 printing firms and around 350 specimen woodcuts, the collection offers a comprehensive view into a provincial Victorian printing office. The volume is divided into two parts. The front contains fifteen leaves of woodcut samples and the other fifty-nine leaves are filled with receipts and other business items including information on trade with leading type founders, engravers and merchants of presses and other printing equipment within the British printing trade, both in London and the provinces.

The volume came with a well-researched history, which I quote in part here:

“The Leicester firm called towards the end of its existence Caxton Printing Offices, was established according to its letterhead in 1816 but probably at least two years before that. The earliest references in this collection give the proprietor’s name as Thomas Gregory (not in BBTI). By 1825, it was in the hands of John Fowler (BBTI, 1812-1845) passing, around 1846, to his eldest son John Smith Fowler (BBTI, 1846-1884). Most of its few publications were of a religious nature and the Fowlers were clearly dissenters, with the father publishing A Methodist Magazine, conducted by the camp-meeting Methodists known by the name of Ranters, called also Primitive Methodists… One of John Smith Fowler’s brothers, William, traded in St Martin’s, Leicester, as ‘Son and Successor to the late John Fowler,’ ‘General Printer, Bookseller, Stationer, and Book-binder.’”

“The collection reflects all aspects of the trade from ink, paper and binding, to the carpentry required for fitting out an office. Most of the bills are on printed letterheads and forms but some are handwritten, often with a signed acknowledgement of receipt of payment and several with other communications. There are numerous letters and printed circulars, price lists and advertisements, some with illustrations of presses by Clymer & Dixon; Harrild; S. & T. Sharwood; Sherwin, Cope & Co. Many of the letterheads are interesting examples of Victorian graphic design, exhibiting the care one would expect from members of the printing trade.

A couple of items of correspondence, responding to contested bills indicate a contentious streak in the younger Fowler. ‘[W]e wish to meet you as fair as possible,’ the firm of Caslon informs him in 1868. The collection also gives hints of the change in the economic climate. ‘Times are not very good, but I think you are disposed to make them worse,’ Thomas writes in 1844; and in 1868 Rowland Wood of Austin Wood & Co. writes: ‘I hope that trade has so revived, that you have abandoned the idea of parting with such a nice compact Office.’

The most charming aspect of this collection are the hundreds of specimen woodcuts, many on tinted paper, mostly for scrap books, advertisements, almanacs and other ephemeral publications. Several miniature scrap books are preserved in their entirety and mounted, such as Mother Hubbard and Her Dog, Tom, the Piper’s Son, Little Red Riding Hood, The Life of Jack Sprat, His Wife and his Cat, The Cries of London, Old Dame Trot, The House that Jack Built, and Jack & Jill, and Old Dame Gill. Other miniature books are the delightful alphabet book The History of an Apple Pie or A New Riddle Book, for Little Boys and Girls, which assembles woodcuts and engravings from diverse sources, periods and styles. All miniature books were reasonably priced at halfpenny and consist of 12 pages including self-wrappers, measuring 76 x 44 mm.”

African American Portraits, 1860s-1880s

One hope in posting this new collection of, primarily, hand-painted tintype portraits of African American men, women, and children is to have as many people as possible view the images, leading to someone recognizing and identifying the sitters. Could you help us by sharing this with others? To enlarge the image, just click on it.

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1870, hand-colored albumen silver print

Unknown sitter, ca. 1860s, hand-colored salted paper print

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1860s, hand-colored salted paper print

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1860s, hand-colored salted paper print

Unknown sitter, ca. 1880, hand-colored full-plate tintype

Unknown sitter, ca. 1860s, hand-colored salted paper print in frame

Portrait of Sally Rice, Bourbon, Georgia, ca. 1860s, hand-colored albumen silver print

Purchased with funds from the Graphic Arts Collection, African American Studies, and Women’s Studies.

A good source of information is Stanley B. Burns, Forgotten marriage, the painted tintype & the decorative frame, 1860-1910: a lost chapter in American portraiture (New York: Burns Press, Burns Collection, 1995). Marquand Library (SAPH): Photography, Oversize TR680 .B871 1995q. See their website:

A Talbotype Illustration for the Art-Union

William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) began production of his first photographically illustrated book, The Pencil of Nature, in 1844. The following year Talbot made a deal with Samuel Carter Hall (1800-1889), the editor of the Art Union Monthly Journal, to include one of his paper photographs in every copy of volume 8 (1846). The Art-Union was particularly known for its illustrations (including lithography, etching, engraving, and wood engraving) and Talbot was anxious for paper photography to be seen as equal to these graphic mediums.

To make the approximately 6,000 calotypes for the Art-Union edition, Talbot’s printer, Nicolaas Henneman, used every negative he could find in the shop. More than half of the twenty-four images that are published in Pencil of Nature also turn up in copies of the Art-Union. Unfortunately, Henneman’s print shop was not yet capable of such mass production and poor workmanship resulted. The paper was not properly exposed, not well fixed or washed, and badly pasted onto the magazine leaves. The images faded almost as soon as they were created and the publicity Talbot received was all negative (the image here was Photoshopped so it could be seen). Pencil of Nature ceased production that same year after only six fascicles.

Marquand Library has a complete set of Art-Union, but the talbotype was cut out and taken to the Princeton University Art Museum many years ago (a common practice). We have recently acquired another copy of the 1846 Art-Union with a photograph intact, offering the print as it was originally meant to be seen.

For more, see the wonderful Glasgow Library page:

Oreilles gardées

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) and Pierre André Benoit (1921-1993), Oreilles gardées [Alès: P.A. Benoit, 1962). One of 300 printed in black and white. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

The French poet and publisher Pierre-André Benoit (known as P.A.B., 1921-1993) lived and worked from Alès in the south of France. Artists either came to him or mailed their art to him (often simple sheets of celluloid scratched with a needle), to which he would add his own poetry and print limited editions for their friends.

Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) and Benoit worked together on a number of projects, including Vache bleue dans une ville (with André Frénaud, 1944); Élégies (with Eugène Guillevic, 1946); Ler dla canpane (1948); La Lunette farcie: en l’honneur de P. A. Benoit (with François Delagénière, 1962); Oreilles gardées (1962); and Couinque (1963).

In the case of Oreilles gardées, Dubuffet was experimenting wildly with rubber stamps and lithographic plates (a transitional point at the beginning of his “hourloupe” period). Benoit was able to take Dubuffet’s originals and produce an equally wild, energetic, and self-consciously naïve book.

Deborah Wye, Museum of Modern Art, noted,

“It was not until he was forty-one, after a career in the wine business that Jean Dubuffet turned decisively to art and, during the next forty years he became a prolific painter, sculptor, printmaker, and experimental writer. With no systematic training, he railed against prevailing notions of good taste and official culture, preferring the spontaneous energy of graffiti and the art of children and the mentally ill. In postwar Paris, Dubuffet worked in a style called l’art brut, depicting fanciful figures in everyday activities that seem irrational, given his flattened perspectives, crude drawing, and unexpected juxtapositions.”
See: Les Livres réalisés par P.A. Benoit, no. 413

A Pynson Woodblock Revived

| 1 Comment

1503 woodcut from Early English Books Online

1643 printing of same block

M. Web, The Malignants Conventicle (London: printed for Anti-Dam-mee, in Tell-troth Lane, at this signe of the Holly-wand, 1643). Graphic Arts GAX 2010. -in process

Edward Hodnett (Five Centuries of English Book Illustration) reminds us that “although Richard Pynson (died 1530) was the first printer in England to produce well-designed books, his output of fewer than 200 illustrated books was not one-half that of Wynkyn de Worde” (Caxton’s chief printer and successor). One of the 200 texts “shrewdly chosen” by Pynson to illustrate was Beuys of Southamtowne.

Pynson’s 1503 edition of Beuys (London: Emprynted by Rycharde Pynson in Fletestrete at the sygne of the George), which today can only be seen at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford (shelflist Douce B subt. 234, fol.7) contains twelve woodcuts (Hodnett 1933-44). While we know it was common for printers to save the blocks and reuse them in other books, it is not so common to find them lasting 140 years, which is the case with one of the blocks from Pynson’s Beuys.

The block as described by Hodnett (English Woodcuts no.1937) shows a shepherd boy beating a man with his crook. A hat and stick on the pavement (upper l.). Wall and gate (r). A shepherd boy striking with his crook a courtier seated at a table. A man and woman behind the courtier. A lady at his right. A man seated on a bench. An overturned bucket on the table. Triangular black and white tile floor. Two windows. The two scenes are separated by a column and a zigzag partition.

In 1643, a satire called The Malignants Conventicle or a Learned Speech Spoken by M. Web … was published with Pynson’s woodcut on the title page. Web’s speech tells of a secret group plotting insurrection on the city of London. The plotters “drew up a most damnable abusive Booke amongst our selves, to scandalize the parliament … called the Cities Complaint to the House of Commons…” He continues, “This booke we got a foolish printer that did not know what he did, to print, for it was such a most wicked, invective Pamphlet, that … if he knew what it was, he would not have meddled with it.”

A great text made even better by the 140 year old woodblock used to print the title page. Thanks to Christopher Edwards for finding this woodcut and tracking its history.

See more: Edward Hodnett, Five Centuries of English Book Illustration (Aldershot [Hampshire] : Scolar Press, 1988). Graphic Arts GARF NC978.H55 1987Q
Edward Hodnett, English Woodcuts 1480-1533 (Oxford: Printed at the University Press, 1973). Graphic Arts GA NE1143 .xH6 1973

Metamorphosis cards

The Chinese Question Solved (New York: Donaldson Brothers, ca. 1882). Lithography. Graphic Arts GA2010- in process

This metamorphosis or transformation card is an advertisement for the Peerless Wringer washing machine, printed in the 1880s by the Donaldson Brothers based in the Five Points (lower Mulberry Street) in New York City. It features Dennis Kearney (1847-1907), an Irish immigrant who settled in San Francisco. The charismatic Kearney was the leader of the Workingmen’s Party of California, whose platform announced, “The Chinese laborer is a curse to our land, is degrading to our morals, is a menace to our lives, and should be restricted and forever abolished, and the Chinese must go.”

Their efforts resulted in the Chinese Exclusion Act, signed into law on May 8, 1882. Chinese immigration was suspended for ten years, including Chinese “skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining” already settled and working in the United States.

On the card, Kearney is seen enticing a Chinese laundry worker named Ah Sin (after Bret Harte’s poem “The Heathen Chinee”) to insert his queue (braid) into the modern washing machine. The text reads, “‘What makee dis?’ said bland Ah Sin. Said Dennis, ‘Put your pig-tail in.’” The lifted flap shows Ah Sin caught in the wringer and finishes the verse, “Ah Sin Obeys! Though rather slow! The Question’s solved, Chinese must go.”

Donaldson Brothers printing company was established by George, Frank, John, and Robert Donaldson in 1872. Their high-speed steam presses produced, among other things, trade and advertising cards with bright chromolithographed images in large quantities. The Donaldsons merged with the American Lithographic Company in 1891 to form one of the largest commercial printing company in New York.

Hancock. Hancock. Cock-a-doodle-doo (New York, privately printed, 1880). Lithography. Graphic Arts GA 2010- in process

This transformation book was produced for the 1880 presidential campaign of Republican James A. Garfield (1831-1881), running against the Democrat Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886). Garfield was a fervent abolitionist. This card not only predicts Hancock’s failure, depicting him as a cock that looses his feathers, but accuses him of racism in the verse on the back. In his campaign, Garfield used this slogan, “Hancock. Hancock. Cock-a-doodle-doo. Hancock. Hancock. Boo-Hoo-Hoo.”

It is curious to find the copyright owned by George H. Hanks, who, in the 1860s, was a Colonel of the 18th Infantry, Corps d’Afrique (a Union corps composed entirely of African-Americans) and later became Superintendent of Negro Labor. I have not found any record of Hanks’s role in Garfield’s campaign.

Title in Japanese: Kokugo nyüshi mondai hisshöhö
or in German: Sichere Anleitung zum Bestehen jeder Universitäts-aufnahmeprüfung im Fach Japanish
or in English: A Safe Method to Pass University Entrance Exams in the Subject of Japanese
An artists’ book by Veronika Schäpers, story by Shimizu Yoshinori (Tokyo: [Schäpers], 2003). GAX 2010 -in process. Copy 28 of 40.

The black letterpress text is printed by zinc-clichees in German and Japanese. Japanese rubber stamps for school marks are printed by hand various colors on Mitsumata paper. The book has a Japanese binding with twisted paper cord and cover made of Kozo Ganpi cardboard. Its padded case is made of cotton fabrics in the shape of a Japanese Omamori-charm, with the Japanese title embroidered in ivory.

In his short story, Shimizu Yoshinori (born 1947) describes the Japanese system of entrance examinations. This procedure (also known as the “examination hell”) is not only applied to universities but, depending to the status and type of school, also to high schools, elementary schools, and even Kindergartens. To prepare there are many cram schools, each specializing in a particular exam since every school is different. The public interest is so great that newspapers publish parts of the examinations and reports are broadcast on television.

Veronika Schäpers (born 1969) writes that she

“read Shimizu Yoshinori’s text for the first time when I was preparing for a Japanese proficiency test for foreigners which is held once a year by the Japanese Ministry of Education. Talking about this to Japanese friends, I recognized that almost everyone had experienced the ‘examination hell’ and understands the situation of the protagonist Asaka Ichiro very well. In the book I printed the Japanese original as well as the translation into German by Katja Cassing. As the German and Japanese way of reading differ (German: left - right, Japanese: right - left) the book has two beginnings: the German text starts in ‘front’, the Japanese in the ‘back’. Both of them meet in the middle with the imprint.”

“In addition to this each page of the German translation refers in color and content to its Japanese counterpart. The fonts I’ve used are Transit and Kozuka Gothic, both sans-serif fonts that are plain but not stiff. The continuous text is interrupted by examples of examination questions in a bold font. The text was printed by zinc-clichés in letterpress printing.”
“Each double-spread page is under-layed with a pattern of stamps that in Japan are usually used to mark student homework. These marks range from ‘Done very well’ to ‘Normal’ up to ‘Try harder’. I’ve reduced the original stamps so much that on the very first glimpse they give the impression of a wallpaper-like pattern and even the Japanese reader has to watch carefully to recognize the well-known stamps.”
“Because of the thin Mitsumata paper the marks shine through the pages. Every single page is stamped by hand. To get the colors I had in mind, I mixed them from lithograph printing ink. The book is stitched with a Japanese binding and as a cord I used a twisted paper strip. The cover consists of Kozo cardboard with a thin layer of Ganpi paper giving a fine shine. I printed a pattern of one single stamp in the original size on it saying: ‘You have to try harder’. This stamp is the worst mark you can get in Japan and stands in contrast to the one I’ve used at the end of the text for the imprint (good).”

Schäpers was born in Gescher (Westphalia) Germany and moved to Japan in 1998, where she has been working ever since. There is a good video of Schäpers speaking about this and her other artists’ books at:

The Shinplasters of 1837

Treasury Note, [1837]. Lithograph. Designed by Napoleon Sarony (1821-1896) and published by H.R. Robinson, New York. Graphic Arts GC2010- in process

This is a parody of the “shinplasters” or worthless paper money issued by banks leading up to the U.S. Panic of 1837.

Although President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) had been able to pay off the national debt in 1835, the surplus cash was distributed by state governments only in paper notes. Before leaving office, Jackson issued the Specie (coin) Circular, declaring that the Treasury would not accept these paper notes. By 1837, the new president, Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), was faced with a national panic.

Sarony’s original satirical “Treasury Note” had a central panel framed by panels on either side. In the center is a winged chimera with the head of Van Buren riding a wagon, labeled Treasury Department, driven by John Calhoun (1782-1850). They are pulled by men rather than horses and roll over the bodies of others as they rush to Wall Street.

On the left is an image of Jackson dressed as a woman saying “More glory.” Princeton’s copy is missing the section on the right, possibly removed through censorship because of the graphic nature of the design. It shows an ass with Jackson’s face excreting “mint drops” collected by a monkey with the head of Van Buren.

The text of the treasury note states:

“We promise to Pay out of the joint Fund of the United States Treasury Seven Years after it is convenient the Sum of Seventy Five cents Payable at their Office.”

Read more: Harry Twyford Peters (1881-1948), America on Stone: the Other Printmakers to the American People (Garden City, N. Y.: Doubleday, Doran, 1931), p.338. Graphic Arts: Reference Collection (GARF), Oversize NE2303 .P4q

Jacques Gamelin (1738-1803), Nouveau recueil d’ostéologie et de myologie, dessiné d’après nature … pour l’utilit des sciences et des arts [A New Collection of Bones and Muscles, Drawn from Life… for the Use of Sciences and the Arts] (Toulouse: J.F. Desclassan, 1779). Two parts in one. Etched frontispiece, title with etching, 41 full-page engraved plates and ten etched vignettes. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

Surgite mortui, et venite ad judicium (Arise, ye dead, and come to the judgment). [From XXVIII Sermons (1651), Sermon XIX]).

The French painter and engraver Jacques Gamelin (1738-1803) entered the Art Académie Royale de Toulouse under the patronage of Baron de Puymaurin, a wealthy industrialist (to whom he dedicates this book). Puymaurin also financed a trip to Rome, where Gamelin studied with the Neoclassical master painter Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825) and eventually became the chief painter to Pope Clement XIV.

In 1777, Gamelin’s father died and he returned to Toulouse. Using his inheritance, Gamelin began work on the most important project of his career Nouveau recueil d’ostéologie et de myologie. With the assistance of local magistrates, Gamelin was given access to the corpses of executed criminals, which he both dissected and sketched. Then, he hired two engravers, Jacques Lavallée (active 1790-1830) and an artist known only as Martin, to assist him in converting these drawings to prints. After two years, Gamelin released his masterpiece in an edition of 200 copies, priced at forty livres each (nine livre may be the cost to dress a man at that period). The book did not sell and Gamelin went bankrupt. Most of the unsold copies were either pulped or dismembered, accounting for the book’s exceptional rarity.

The atlas is a mixture of imaginative artistic life-studies and technical anatomical drawings. The first part is devoted to bones and the second part to muscles. Allegorical scenes of death, battle, and genre scenes appear throughout.

The plates of the second part are larger and more expressive, while those of the first part more fantastical in their conceptions. Many are done in the crayon manner with Gamelin personally engraving much of the second part. Chalk or crayon manner engraving is a technique used to imitate chalk or pastel drawings. Special toothed tools, such as roulettes, mattoirs (punches), or champignons were used to create dotted patterns on the plate that suggest the grainy appearance of chalk strokes on paper.

Gamelin hoped to offer this work to both anatomy students and artists, thereby embracing both art and science.

“Gamelin is acknowledged as one of the “little masters” of French eighteenth-century painting. The plates for his anatomical atlas … were prepared from drawings made at his own dissection facility; they are distinct from the plates of other works of its type, being larger, more artistically varied, and more expressive and fantastic in their conceptions. ….Gamelin’s technical perfection, coupled with the emotional and fantastical elements in his images, have led him to be seen as a precursor of Goya; in fact, the young Goya may have known or studied with Gamelin, who taught in Rome during the time Goya was there.” (The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine, p.316).

Memento homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris (Remember, man, that you are dust and unto dust you shall return)

To read more, see Hook & Norman, The Haskell F. Norman Library of Science and Medicine (1991) no. 872, Annex A, Z7401 .H347 1998.
Also Garrison-Morton 401.1. Choulant-Frank 352. Campbell Dodgson, “The Macbre in Two Centuries,” in Print Collector’s Quarterly, April 1929, XVI, 135-143. G. Bazin, “Un Précurseur de Goya et de Delacroix,” Marianne, 17 August 1938, p.8. Waller 3404. Rifkin & Ackerman, Human Anatomy, 219-227.

Raymond Pettibon's "Captive Chains"

Raymond Pettibon (born 1957), Captive Chains (Lawndale, Ca.: SST Publications, 1978). Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

California artist Raymond Pettibon has published forty-four zines, 120 fliers, and a variety of album covers, as documented in the 2008 exhibition organized by David Platzker at Specific Object.

The first, entitled Captive Chains (1978) has also been labeled an artists’ book and/or a graphic novel, depending on who is reviewing the material. Pettibon’s early work was published and distributed by SST Records, an imprint established by his brother, Greg Ginn, the guitarist for the punk band Black Flag. The band also used Pettibon’s art for their fliers, album covers and T-shirts, as did other bands that joined the label, including the Minutemen, Hüsker Dü, the Meat Puppets and Sonic Youth.

Since that period, Pettibon has gone on to make a career for himself and his art apart from the California punk scene, including important exhibitions at The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

“But my drawing also came out of editorial-style cartoons I was doing at the time. Music was one thing and art was another, and there weren’t really any standards for my art. If you look at old punk album covers they were mainly Russian constructivist or Heartsfield [sic] collages. There was no defined punk look or style. Not in art at least. Maybe in fashion. My work was just drawings, and basically drawings just as I would do now. They weren’t done with any aspirations of becoming a part of that scene.”

See the catalogue raisonné of Pettibon’s artists’ books: Raymond Pettibon: the Books 1978-1998 (New York: D.A.P. Distributed Art Publishers, c2000) Marquand Library (SA) N6537.P393 O3713 2000


Joel J. Rane, Scream at the Librarian: Sketches of Our Patrons in Downtown Los Angeles. Illustrations by Raymond Pettibon and Cristin Sheehan Sullivan ([Brooklyn]: Booklyn Artists Alliance, 2007). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX), 2008-0124N

“This is not autobiographical work, by any means. Even the emotions involved. If someone thinks they understand me and disagree, then okay. But there’s something in the nature of comedy and especially in the element of caricature and cartoons that my work retains. An editorial cartoon is trying to be positive. It’s usually really very cloying and sappy and there’s no hook to it at all. I also don’t like my humor to be in the service of making fun of people based on superficialities. People get picked on or looked down at. I’m conscious about that as a problem.”

Victorian Grave Decoration

C.F. Bridgman, Monumenta (Lewes, ca. 1880). Red and black ink and watercolor wash. Graphic Arts GA2010- in process

This pattern book for Victorian grave stone designs and stone roundels for grave ornaments contains eighty miniture designs with twelve large relief roundels. According to the antiquarian dealer Charles Wood, C.F. Bridgman was a well-known firm. Mr. Wood found this entry for them:

The records of C.F.Bridgman, a firm of Stonemasons (formerly Parsons) based in Lewes from the early 18th century, were deposited in the East Sussex Records Office in 1965 by Hillman Sons, Vinall and Carter, Solicitors of Lewes, and consists of some 98 volumes of Ledgers, Day Books, Letter Books, Wage and Cash Books together with Classified Accounts which cover the period 1834-1959…

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Recent Comments

  • Howard Coblentz: I have a round seal shaped like a pear a read more
  • John Overholt: Wikipedia's entry for Sir Francis says: "Throughout Baring's lifetime his read more
  • Serge Rodrigue: It is a precious thing you have a book from read more
  • Colin Wicks: I have a copy of “A Round Game.” And it read more
  • 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