What is Project Nemethis… and will it fly..?

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Model for an “Umbrella Plane,” ca. 1910. Wood, wire, and varnished silk. Housed in a specially made fibre-board box.
Graphic Arts Collection. Museum objects.

Last July 2014, the Associated Press announced “Aviation enthusiasts from as many as 70 countries are gathering in Oshkosh this week for the annual Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture. The convention draws about a half million people to the week-long event at near Wittman Regional Airport. Thousands of planes have already landed at the airport.”umbrella2The Experimental Aircraft Association’s Fly-In Convention, now known as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, has been in existence nearly as long as the association itself. Each year more than 500,000 people gather in Wisconsin for a week of aviation events. 10,000 of them fly into Oshkosh in a wide variety of aircraft.

In 2016, several EAA members hope to build and fly Project Nemethis, not a replica but loosely based on the umbrella plane, or ‘Merry Widow’ or ‘cycloplane,’ now housed at Princeton. These passionate aviators have kindly shared a photo and a few facts.

“If Vought, Romme, McCormick and Lille had access to today’s technology and vast material selection…I feel they would have built something like Nemethis. The plane that is being built is known as project “Nemethis” a play on words. …Loosely based on Dr. Stanley J Nemeth’s 1930’s “umbrella” plane design of a round wing, which was loosely based on the McCormick/Romme.

“Project Nemethis . . . is however being constructed of aircraft grade aluminum rather than bamboo and strips of wood. It is eight sided rather than nine and two of the three control surfaces will be imbedded in the inverted V tail which is unique to Nemethis. The airfoil is very similar; and, in the air, it would take a trained observer to not mistake it for one of the McCormick/Romme umbrella planes.”

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My sincere thanks to Lee Fisher, who notes, “If there is anybody that should have an interest in the project, I can talk about it for hours.” For more information on the organization, see: http://flyin.airventure.org/media/EAA_AirVenture_history.pdf
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Millionaire Harold Fowler McCormick (1872-1941, Class of 1896), was an aeronautics enthusiast and supporter of the work of the New York inventor William S. Romme (born 1867). Romme designed eleven unique airplanes including a circular plane, which became known as the umbrella plane.

Together with John D. Rockefeller, Jr., McCormick funded the research and construction of the umbrella plane, developed under the supervision of a twenty-year-old engineer named Chance Vought (1890-1930). A model of this aircraft hung in his Aviation room on 675 Rush Street in Chicago for many years, until the estate with donated to Princeton by one of McCormick’s step-sons Alexander Stillman. This model is now at Princeton and we hope a new plane will fly in the next year or two.

 

St. Joan addendum

joan of arc9In checking the provenance of our Joan of Arc bust, my colleague Steve Ferguson reminds me that Princeton holds a “Collection of reproductions depicting Joan of Arc, scenes from her life, and her childhood home,1630-1937” (Rare Books (Ex) Oversize 1509.142.499.65f).

The gift of Mrs. John P. Poe in honor of her husband John Prentiss Poe Jr. Class of 1895, includes 112 original prints and reproductions depicting Joan in many styles and costumes. The works are by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Marie d’Orléans, Aubrey Beardsley, Henri Chapu, Emmanuel Fremiet, and Anna Hyatt Huntington among others. Here are a few samples.

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Creator of Submarines and Miniature Paintings

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Robert Fulton (1765-1815), Love’s First Interview, 1806. Watercolor. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02373
fulton loves first interviewOxford Art Online lists Robert Fulton (1765-1815) simply as “an engineer of genius who developed the steamboat, [who] was initially a painter of portraits and historical scenes.” Dated 1806, this drawing was executed shortly after his return from England, where he had been studying painting as well as experimenting with submarine designs. It would have been completed around the same time he supervised the construction of the North River Steamboat or Clermont.

Fulton certainly was a renaissance man, with a practicing career as a miniature painter before gaining fame for his engineering skills.

“In 1782 when seventeen years of age, Fulton left his native town for Philadelphia, there to seek his fortune. That city was the capital of the State of Pennsylvania, which, under the mild and beneficent rule of members of the Society of Friends, enjoyed the distinction of being the pioneer in the arts of peace among the States of the Union. Hither came men of science and scholarship, finding the atmosphere congenial to work and study. In Philadelphia were founded the first American Philosophical Society, the first public library in America, the first medical and law schools; the first printing press in the middle colonies was set up there, and prior to the Revolution more books were published in Pennsylvania than in all the other colonies combined. It is not surprising that Fulton should develop quickly in the new field of thought and activity which opened before him.

Not much is known of his doings during the first three years of his stay in the Quaker City. It is said that he was apprenticed to a silversmith, but he would be too old for that; another statement which is much more probable is that he was glad to turn his hand to almost any kind of work in drawing plans, designing buildings, and painting portraits. Already in in 1852 by his application and industry, he had established himself as a miniature painter, and during the next two years he met with a considerable measure of success. Several miniatures and one or two portraits of some merit remain to this day to prove his proficiency. Charles Willson Peale was then the principal painter in the city, and Fulton may have had lessons from him.” –H. W. Dickinson, Robert Fulton: Engineer and Artist (London 1913)

Decorative photos

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This untitled photo album, signed “with best wishes from Grace” holds 24 cut and mounted photographs from the late 1800s. Views include the south shore of Lake Michigan and other Chicago sites. There is reason to believe that the album comes from the family of Robert Burns (1844-1916), Detroit newspaper editor and publisher. We have not yet identified any of the individuals photographed.

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St. Joan

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“Two or three winters ago,” wrote Royal Cortissoz, art critic for The New York Times, “Mr. Gerome Brush left a new and delightful impression in one of the exhibitions with a bust of Joan of Arc. We have seen nothing of his work since, but now about a dozen examples of it have been brought together at the Knoedler gallery and it is possible to form a fuller judgment on his talent. The talent is there, beyond a doubt, and the first thing we observe about it is its original grain.” (November 24, 1918)U

The son of painter George de Forest Brush (1855-1941) and sculptor/aviator Mittie (Mary) Taylor Whelpley Brush (1866-1949), Gerome grew up in the artists’ colony in Dublin, New Hampshire, next door to Samuel Clemens. He was named after his father’s painting master, Jean-Léon Gérome and apprenticed with his father as both a painter and sculptor.

When Gerome Brush and his wife, actress Louise Seymour, settled in Boston, he accepted several civic commissions, including murals for the Children’s Hospital and individual portraits of the entire Boston Symphony orchestra. These charcoal drawings were later published in a 1936 trade edition with biographies of each musician.

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Gerome Brush (1888-1954), St. Joan, 1915. Bronze. Signed and dated in the base. Cast at A. Kunst Foundry, New York. Graphic Arts Collection Museum Objects

Oda a la Lagartija = Ode to the Lizard

martorell oda6Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) and Antonio Martorell, Oda a la Lagartija (Campo Rico de Canóvanas: P.R. Martorell, 1974). “150 ejemplares firmados y numerados por el grabador además de 15 pruebas de artista numeradas en romano, todas [sic] impresos … con grabados y caligrafiados individualmente; se comenzó a imprimir el 1° de diciembre de 1973 …” Graphic Arts Collection Copy 76 of 150.
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De noche
allí el silencio
es un profundo lago
del que salen
sumergidas
presencias,
cabelleras
de musgos
y de lianas,
ojos
antiguos
con
luz
de turquesa,
cenicientos lagartos olvidados,
anchas mujeres locamente muertas,
guerreros
deslumbradores,
ritos
araucanos.
(exert from Neruda’s poem)

Attention Students: Submit Your Essay to Win the 2014-2015 Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize!

Are you an avid collector of books, manuscripts, or other materials found in libraries? If so, consider submitting an essay about your collection for a chance to win the Elmer Adler Undergraduate Book Collecting Prize!

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Image: (c) Jane and Louise Wilson, Oddments Room II (Voyages of the Adventure and Beagle), 2008. C-print, Edition of 4. Courtesy 303 Gallery, New York

Endowed from the estate of Elmer Adler, who for many years encouraged the collecting of books by Princeton undergraduates, this prize is awarded annually to an undergraduate student, or students, who, in the opinion of a committee of judges, have shown the most thought and ingenuity in assembling a thematically coherent collection of books, manuscripts, or other material normally collected by libraries. Please note that the rarity or monetary value of the student’s collection is not as important as the creativity and persistence shown in collecting and the fidelity of the collection to the goals described in a personal essay.

The personal essay is about a collection owned by the student. It should describe the thematic or artifactual nature of the collection and discuss with some specificity the unifying characteristics that have prompted the student to think of certain items as a collection. It should also convey a strong sense of the student’s motivations for collecting and what their particular collection means to them personally. The history of the collection, including collecting goals, acquisition methods, and milestones are of particular interest, as is a critical look at how the goals may have evolved over time and an outlook on the future development of the collection. Essays are judged in equal measures on the strength of the collection and the strength of the writing.

Winners will receive their prizes at the annual winter dinner of the Friends of the Princeton University Library, which they are expected to attend. The first-prize essay will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Princeton University Library Chronicle. In addition, the first-prize essay has the honor of representing Princeton University in the National Collegiate Book Collecting Contest organized by the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America. Please note that per the ABAA’s contest rules, the winning essay will be entered exactly as submitted to the Adler Prize contest, without possibility of revision.

Prize amounts:

First prize: $2000
Second prize: $1500
Third prize: $1000

The deadline for submission is Tuesday, December 2, 2014. Essays should be submitted via e-mail, in a Microsoft Word attachment, to Faith Charlton: faithc@princeton.edu. They should be between 9-10 pages long, 12pt, double-spaced, with a 1-inch margin, and include a separate cover sheet with your name, class year, residential address, email address, and phone number. In addition to the essay, each entry should include a selected bibliography of no more than 3 pages detailing the items in the collection. Please note that essays submitted in file formats other than Microsoft Word, submitted without cover sheet, or submitted without a bibliography will not be forwarded to the judges. For inquiries, please contact Faith Charlton, faithc@princeton.edu.

Recent Adler Prize Winning Essays:

Rory Fitzpatrick, ’16. “The Search for the Shape of the Universe, One Book at a Time.” (forthcoming)

Natasha Japanwala ’14. “Conversation Among the Ruins: Collecting Books By and About Sylvia Plath.” PULC 74:2 (winter)

Mary Thierry ’12. “Mirror, Mirror: American Daguerrean Portraits.” PULC 73:3 (spring)

Chloe Ferguson ’13. “The Farther Shore: Collection, Memory, and the East Asian Literary Tradition.” PULC 73:3 (spring)

Lindsey Breuer ’11. “If Only I Could Apparate, My Harry Potter Collection Would Truly Appreciate.” PULC 73:3 (spring)

Posted by Faith Charlton

The Japan Punch

japan punch4“Charles Wirgman (1835-1891) was one of those engaging, eccentric, polyglot personalities,” writes John Clark, “who adventured around the Far East in the second half of the nineteenth century. Many deserved their reputation as semi-criminals out for quick money, but Wirgman, though probably never rich, has nowhere left an image of such avariciousness.”

As a correspondent of the Illustrated London News, Wirgman traveled first to Malta, followed by the Philippines, China, and finally Japan in 1861. Within a year of his arrival in Yokohama, Wirgman was publishing his own magazine, which he called The Japan Punch. The irregular journal ran for 25 years, drawn exclusively by Wirgman. Printed on extremely thin, handmade paper, each issue was produced in an edition of approximately 200 copies, according to Hans Harder and Barbara Mittler, Asian Punches: A Transcultural Affair (2013).

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired 13 of these rare issues, 5 from late 1865 and 8 from 1866. The Japan Punch joins the work of Okamoto Ippei, and other satirical artists of Japan held in the Princeton University Library.

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Le antichita romane

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Luigi Rossini, 1790-1857. Le antichita romane; ossia, Raccolta delle più interessanti vedute di Roma antica, disegnatè ed incise dall’architetto incisore Luigi Rossini, Ravennate, in numero centuna vedute. Rome: Scudellari, 1829. Gift of Mrs. John G. Winant. Rare Books (Ex) Oversize N6920 .R73e

rossini rome1Following in the grand tradition of Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778), Luigi Rossini (1790-1857) created large scale engravings of Rome and its surroundings. A series of elephant portfolios (77 x 56 cm.) were published from 1918 to 1829 under the title: Le antichita romane; ossia, Raccolta delle più interessanti vedute di Roma antica. [The Rome of Antiquity, a collection of the most interesting Views of Ancient Rome].

Mrs. John G. Winant presented the Princeton University Library with a set of Rossini’s 101 engravings on October 5, 1925. Sometime later, 21 of these beautiful prints were framed and hung on the walls of McCosh Hall (built in 1907). After an exhaustive search, we believe these few prints are no longer at McCosh and will not be found. Thankfully, the rest are here and available to all our researchers.

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Central Park

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New York’s Central Park will be the focus of tomorrow’s interdisciplinary studies class: Revisiting Nature’s Nation – An Ecocritical History of American Art. The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to offer the group: Richard Morris Hunt (1828-1895), Designs for the Gateways of the Southern Entrances to the Central Park … with a Description of the Designs, and a Letter in Relation to Them, Addressed to the Commissioners of the Park (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1866). Plates and plans lithographed by Julius Bien (1826-1909). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0281Q
gateways of central park6In the introduction, the Parks Commissioner writes, “Mr. Hunt’s idea, which by adoption has become the idea of the Park Commissioners, is, on the contrary, that it is impossible to fully carry out this plan of rusticity. While conceding the importance of interfering with nature as little as possible, it is to be remembered that the most faithful endeavors in this direction will still, of necessity, leave the Park, what indeed it already is, and a formal city pleasure-ground.”

“We must, it needs be , so trim and restrain the wildness of nature that it can be called ‘rural’ in no absolute sense, but only by contrast with the bricks and stone surrounding it. And, when we have to provide for a population of some two millions or more, it will be impossible to preserve those narrow and winding walks at the entrance ways which form part of the plan for rural effect. It is folly, the Commissioners think, to attempt rural entrances for a park in the heart of a great city, surrounded by magnificent edifices of fashion, as our Central Park will soon be.”

“Their idea, then, is that the entrances should be in keeping with the future external surroundings of the Park, and establish the connection between the street architecture without and cultivated nature within.”

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