Birch’s Views of Philadelphia


The first time an American artist depicted an American city in a series of engravings came in 1800 when William Russell Birch (1755–1844) created The City Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania North America. A second edition of the series was published in 1804, a third in 1809, and a fourth in 1827-28.

Birch’s prints document the growth of Philadelphia, in particular, but also mark the development of art and artists in the United States. We were no longer waiting for European printmakers to either design or print our images.

Birch did it all. He drew, engraved, and published his own work (assisted by his wife and son, Thomas Birch 1779-1851). Princeton owns twenty of the twenty-eight plates in this series. Today, a number of restrikes and reproductions have been issued, usually called Birch’s Views of Philadelphia.


George Washington died at Mount Vernon, Virginia, on December 14, 1799. A national funeral procession and service was held in Philadelphia on December 26, 1799. Birch issued this print early in 1800.

Dreadful Hot Weather

gillray (2) James Gillray (1757-1815), Dreadful Hot Weather, 1808. Etching with hand color. Graphic Arts Collection. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895

This is one of seven plates by James Gillray, published together on February 10, 1808. The set includes Delicious Weather, Dreadful-Hot-Weather, Fine Bracing Weather, Raw Weather, Sad Sloppy Weather, Windy Weather and Very Slippy-Weather. The last is also the best known of the group, taking place outside the St. James printshop of his benefactor and dealer Hannah Humphrey.
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Classics Department Installation

classics6Section of mosaic pavement, Roman Syria, Antioch-on-the-Orontes, 3rd century C.E. Gift of the Committee for the Excavation of Antioch to Princeton University.





Four stone inscriptions have been installed and labeled for the Classics Graduate Study Room on Firestone Library’s 3rd floor. In addition, one of our Antioch mosaics is on view just outside the room. Thanks to everyone who helped with this project and in particular, thanks to David Jenkins, Librarian for Classics, Hellenic Studies, and Linguistics, who helped with this installation from the beginning to the end.




1924 Winter Olympics

A film of the skating competition during the 1924 Olympic Games in Chamonix, France, can be viewed at These were the first winter Olympic games and Pathé’s coverage some of the earliest cinematic documents from the games. The footage includes Sergeant Maudrillon, coach of the French military skiing team, surrounded by the representatives of every team, solemnly reciting the Olympic oath; the 5,000 meter speed skating race; Ms. Henie of Norway, 11 years old, the youngest contestant in the figure skating competition; and much more. For additional facts, see:

Also available is the Match d’athlétisme France-Finlande (the track Match between France and Finland) at Bergeyre stadium. In the shot put, Perhola (Finland) came in first with a throw of 14 meters. Tuulos (Finland), was the champion in the triple jump, with a 7.15 meter new Finnish record. In the javelin throw, Myrra (Finland) came in first with a 61 meter throw.




A New Hieroglyphical Bible

Within the various collections in Rare Books and Special Collection we hold 13 copies of A New Hieroglyphical Bible for the Amusement & Instruction of Children published from 1794 to 1849. This doesn’t make it any less exciting to receive another.

The recent donation had condition issues and so, Mick LeTourneaux, Rare Books Conservator in our Preservation Office worked on it. Here is a look at the before and

Since there is no title page, it is difficult to know which edition we have. The newspaper waste used in the back cover gives an account of congressional funding for cannons, dated March 3, 1809, so that is helpful in dating the binding.



bible2Each page has a key at the bottom in case you can’t figure out the sentence. Here is the right side:




Bound in with the Hieroglyphical bible is: The Life of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Apostles by Thomas Stackhouse (ca. 1680-1752). It is the first copy at Princeton that includes individual woodcuts and descriptions of all the apostles.

Julian E. Garnsey


We had a question recently about our collection of Princeton University campus views by Julian Ellsworth Garnsey (1887-1969). From 1941 until his death, Garnsey lived and worked in Princeton as Associate Professor at Princeton University’s School of Architecture, as well as serving as a color consult for the city of Princeton. Many exhibitions of his watercolors have been held over the years in University and city venues.

In the summer of 1944, Garnsey began making a pictorial record of the Princeton campus. As W.E. Wagner Jr. wrote “Perched on a totally inadequate stool and surrounded by many onlookers, Associate Professor Julian E. Garnsey may be found, on clear days, continuing his work of making a picture record of the campus in full color. The Princeton campus which, being a Harvard man, he still is apt to call ‘the yard,’ in unguarded moments has, according to Professor Garnsey, vistas of unequalled beauty. In his water-color paintings of the campus he takes no liberties, and sometimes finds the exact copying ‘quite monotonous.’”

“…Painting in water color is merely his hobby, and he does not wish to be known as a painter. He came to Princeton two and one half years ago after a busy life as a mural painter and color consultant. Among his commissions before coming to Princeton, was the decoration of an entire group of new buildings for the University of California at Los Angeles. In one of his mural paintings there he painted Dr. Einstein for probably the first time. He was color consultant to the New York World’s Fair and was responsible for the color of all the buildings at the fair.”–Princeton Bulletin 2, no. 87 (28 August 1944)

Here are a few of the Graphic Arts Collection’s eight watercolors by Garnsey.







garnsey1At one time, Garnsey sold his views as greeting cards through The Little Gallery at 39 Palmer Square. There may still be copies of these in personal collections around Princeton.


Niels Bohr

bohr2On December 5, 1923, The Daily Princetonian announced, “Professor Niels Bohr, the eminent physicist, will lecture on ‘The Structure of the Atom’ to-morrow afternoon at 5 in 301 Palmer. This will be the first Trask lecture of the present term. Professor Bohr received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922 and is responsible for a great part of the present day knowledge of the atom.”

The following day, The Prince reminded students, “’The Structure of the Atom’ will be the subject of the first Spencer Trask lecture by Professor Niels Bohr, the distinguished Danish physicist . . . At present Professor of Physics in the University of Copenhagen, Dr. Bohr has formulated important theories in regard to atomic structure and is largely responsible for the present day knowledge of the atom. . . . This theory has proved the starting point of all important progress in atomic and molecular calculations. –“Professor Bohr, Physicist, Will Give Lecture To-Day,” Daily Princetonian 44, no. 145 (6 December 1923).

And on December 7, the students wrote, “Niels Bohr, professor of physics in the University of Copenhagen, last night delivered the first Spencer Trask lecture of the year . . . ‘The atomic theory,’ declared Professor Bohr, ‘is the hypothesis that all elements are composed of a system of positively charged nuclei, around which negative electrons revolve as in the planetary system. . . . From then on, the search was merely to bring other elements under this definition. It is now possible, by means of the spectra, to find the position on the atomic scale, of any elementary substance, and to determine its chemical composition. And yet all these discoveries, probable and true as they may be, are still merely in a formulative state, and need vast amounts of experimentation to determine their validity.’”

bohr3 The German artist Kurt Harald Isenstein (1898-1980) had his first exhibition in Berlin at the age of nineteen. He found work teaching at the Reimann School of Art and in 1925 co-founded the People’s Art School in Berlin.

A cast bronze bust of Bohr was originally commissioned by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in the 1954, near the end of Bohr’s life. One copy is on view on the first floor of Jadwin Hall, where Isenstein’s 1924 bust of Albert Einstein is also on view.


See also Hildegard Isenstein (1897-1960), Hildegard og Harald Isenstein, 1920-1960 (København: Host, 1960). Marquand Library (SA) ND588.I83 I83

Hugo Reisinger Decorated

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In the early twentieth century, art collector and banker Hugo Reisinger (1856-1914) [second from the right] prepared a series of exhibitions to promote good will between the United States and Germany. A German painting show traveled to New York, Boston, and Chicago from 1908 to 1909. The American art exhibition was held at the Royal Academy of Arts, Berlin, in March 1910 and the Royal Art Society, Munich, in April.

In May, Reisinger was decorated by the Prince Regent of Bavaria “with the Star of the Commanders’ Cross of the Order of St. Michael, in recognition of his successful work in promoting art exhibitions in Germany and the United States.”– ‘Hugo Reisinger Decorated. Munich May 4, 1910,’ New York Times, May 5, 1910.

Four years later, Reisinger died, leaving $1,000,000 to Columbia University, Harvard University,  the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and others.

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W. Graham Robertson

The Graphic Arts Collection has a small number of original posters by W. Graham Robertson (1866-1948). “A companion of Wilde, collector of Whistler, friend of Burne-Jones, and acolyte of Ellen Terry, Robertson also sustained a career as a painter, illustrator, costume designer, and writer. . . . Part of a wealthy shipbuilding family, he was born Graham Walford Robertson in 1866, but went by W. Graham Robertson because he did not want to share initials with the Great Western Railway. His grandmother was befriended by Coleridge, and his mother refused to meet Dickens because she disliked his waistcoat. In his memoir, Time Was, Robertson displays wit and paradox in the vein of Wilde.”

savoy“…When he wasn’t in school or hanging around actresses’ dressing rooms, Robertson was in the studios of leading Victorian artists. He was too late to meet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who died in 1882, but he responded to his art ‘as a spark to tinder, setting light to my imagination.'”

“…Robertson discovered Blake at 17 when he came across a biography of the artist in a bookshop. In the 19th century, Blake was not highly esteemed except among Pre-Raphaelites like Rossetti and Burne-Jones, who saw him as a precursor. Robertson was able to buy his first Blake for £12, ‘despite severe qualms of conscience at the vast outlay.’ By his 20th birthday he owned 40 drawings.”

“Within a few years, Robertson was spending most of his days at a rural cottage in Surrey purchased from the Irish poet William Allingham. …The place was antiquated when he got it in 1888, and he steadfastly avoided modernizing it. The house lacked electricity, central heating and hot water. He lived by candlelight, fires and tubs filled by jug. After one of Gielgud’s visits, Robertson said, ‘Perhaps you realized that you left London in 1942 and arrived some time in the 1890’s.’”–Avis Berman, “Not Just Another Pale Victorian Aesthete,” The New York Times, September 23, 2001

Robertson also worked on a number of illustrated books, for children and adults. Here’s French Songs of Old Canada (London: W. Heinemann, 1904). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) NK8667.R62 F73 1904q



See also: W. Graham Robertson (1866-1948), Time was: the Reminiscences of W. Graham Robertson (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1931). (F) ND497.R54A3