How Einstein Signed Twice

img507Thanks to Judy Spencer Bolton for writing this piece in the summer newsletter of The American Historical Print Collectors Society (AHPCS), a non-profit group that encourages the collection, preservation, study, and exhibition of original historical American prints.

Besides this particularly interesting story about Princeton University’s Print Club, the AHPCS offers substantial scholarship on American prints in their journal: Imprint: Journal of the American Historical Print Collectors Society (Westport, Conn.: American Historical Print Collectors Society). Marquand Library (SA) NE505 .I48. Individuals should also consider joining the organization.

The scrapbooks of the Princeton Print Club can be viewed at:


Printed with Axle Grease over Caviar

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Princeton University Library holds one copy of every book created by the contemporary artist Ed Ruscha. Moving some books require extra help because of their size, such as Ruscha’s News, Mews, Pews, Brews, Stews, & Dues (London: Editions Alecto, 1970). Graphic Arts Collection. Copy 77 of 125, plus 25 AP.

Each of the six organic screen prints in this portfolio is 23 x 31 inches (58.4 x 78.7 cm), housed in a red velvet-covered box 24 5/8 x 33 1/4 inches (62.6 x 84.1 cm). To open on the table, it needs six feet of clear space. Thank you to Brianna Cregle for her help with it.


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Each print is made with different and unexpected organic materials, such as News, which was printed with blackcurrant pie filling over red salmon roe. In a 1970 interview included in this volume, Ruscha said he liked the incongruous elements. “The pleasure of it is both in the wit and the absurdity of the combination. I mean the idea of combining axle grease and caviar!” He went on to say “New mediums encourage me. I still paint in oil paint. But what I’m interested in is illustrating ‘ideas’.”


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The illustration above shows the various organic materials used in making this portfolio. Below are the recipes for each individual print. The pseudo-Gothic font was, for Ruscha, an expression of English culture and the words a reaction to his enjoyment with actual London mews while living there.


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news mews4Axle grease over caviar.


news mews3Hershey’s chocolate flavor syrup and Camp coffee and chicory essence. Squid in the ink.



“It’s About Time” and “On Time”

Now in its eleventh year, the New York Art Book Fair will take place September 16 to 18, 2016 at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens. On Sunday, September 18, Princeton’s Lecturer in Visual Arts, David Reinfurt will speak with Karel Martens from 2:00 to 3:00 pm, a discussion they are calling “It’s About Time.” The talk will be moderated by Prem Krishnamurthy.

NYABF_1Here’s their blurb:

“Dutch graphic designer Karel Martens joins New York-based designer David Reinfurt for a conversation around questions of time and creative practice. . .  Although primarily focused on different media — Martens on printed matter, and Reinfurt on software-based works — both designers extend the core activities of the field through their independent investigations, which range from experimental prints, edited publications, video and interactive works, and spatial installations.

This aspect of both Martens’ and Reinfurt’s practice has led them to develop ideas and projects over durations that span years or even decades. Clocks themselves figure prominently in each body of work, as a way to mark time while also perform its passing. Since the 1960s, motorized clock mechanisms have played a crucial role in Martens’ kinetic sculptures, which use continuous movement to create shifting optical effects.

Reinfurt (as Dexter Sinister and O-R-G) has published a suite of objects and apps since 2000 that tell time in novel and often perverse ways, asking viewers to slow down. Bringing two key figures into public dialogue, this event raises questions about design, contemporary visual practice, and the long gestation period of independent ideas.”

It is curious that another exhibition this fall will also focus on time. On Time: The Quest for Precision is curated by Bruce Bradley at the Grolier Club in New York City from September 14 to November 19, 2016. The show features books on time and timekeeping from the Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering and Technology in Kansas City, Missouri.

“From sundials to atomic clocks, the exhibition On Time: The Quest for Precision explores the history of precise timekeeping through rare books that taught readers techniques of timekeeping, announced new inventions, and provided instructions on the construction and use of timekeeping instruments.”

For more information see:

Cutting the Letter G

Thank you to Carey Dunne over at Hyperallergic, who provided this link to a film by Giorgio Affanni and Gabriele Chiapparini titled The Last Punchcutter. In this seven minute clip master printer Giuseppe Branchino is seen cutting a punch for the letter “G” in his Turin studio.

According to Dunne, the film “was created as part of Griffo, the Great Gala of Letters, a multidisciplinary project focusing on the life of Francesco Griffo, a 15th-century Venetian punchcutter and type designer.” A website has been mounted for the project at:

“Born circa 1450 near Bologna, the son of the goldsmith and engraver Cesare Griffo, he went on to work for the house of Aldus Manutius of Venice, the most important publisher of the day. In 1501, for an edition of Virgil (the ‘Aldine Virgil’), he created what’s regarded as the first italic typeface.” cast typeMetal type cast from a mold carved by a punchcutter.

Come down to our new reading room and ask for: Virgil, Vergilius (Venetiis: Ex aedibus Aldi Romani, mense Aprili 1501). Edited by Aldus.–cf. dedication, and note at end. Rare Books VRG 2945.1501

“Eyes on the Half Shell,” and the rest of “The Blind Man”

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Although it is one of the most sited modern publications, The Blind Man is also one of the most difficult to find. Princeton has only the second issue (of two). The same is true for the issue posted over at The International Dada Archive at the University of Iowa Libraries. Founded in 1979 as part of the Dada Archive and Research Center, the website includes books, articles, microfilmed manuscript collections, video and sound recordings, and more but only issue two of The Blind Man.

Tout-Fait: The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal:, posted the facsimile copies of both issue one and two, along with Rongwrong.

Just to compare, here’s every page of our no. 2 issue.
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“Bob” Brown (1886-1959) was, among many other things, a visual poet and contributed this piece to his friend’s publication. Between 1908 and 1917, Brown wrote for many magazines and then in 1918, traveled in Mexico and Central America, writing for the U.S. Committee of Public Information in Santiago de Chile.

See also: Robert Carlton Brown, The Readies (Bad Ems, Roving eye press, 1930). Rare Books (Ex) 3644.913.375. Collection of Elmer Adler.
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blind man1Note the only gallery that was supporting modern American artists at this time was the marvelous Charles Daniel and his Daniel Gallery. Unlike Alfred Stieglitz, Daniel paid for an advertisement to support the magazine and unlike Marius de Zayas at The Modern or Stephan Bourgeois at the Bourgeois gallery, Daniel championed young, contemporary Americans rather than the established European artists. See:

Turkish Puppets

turkish puppets3During the move this week, we discovered a box of Turkish shadow puppets, along with literature about the genre, given by Lewis V. Thomas. The two figures seen here represent Karagöz (meaning blackeye) and Hacivat (İvaz the Pilgrim), the lead characters of the traditional Turkish shadow plays.

Since we already have other examples of these movable figures in the Cotsen collection, the new discoveries are joining their friends in Cotsen.

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American Turkologist, Lewis Thomas was a Professor in the Department of Oriental Languages and Literatures and a leader in the Princeton Program in Near Eastern Studies. A former teacher at Robert College in Istanbul, during the war he was coordinator of information and press attaché at the American Embassy there.

“In 1944 Hitti succeeded Bender as chairman, serving until 1954. The department’s founding of the country’s pioneer Program in Near Eastern Studies after World War II was largely due to Hitti’s vision and fund-raising abilities. This program concentrated on the modern Near East. Initially, the three major Islamic languages — Arabic, Turkish, and Persian — constituted the core of the program around which were grouped integrated courses in history, politics, sociology, economics, and related subjects. Three appointments were made to the department to implement the new program: Walter L. Wright in Turkish studies, T. Cuyler Young in modern Persian, and Lewis V. Thomas in Arabic. On Wright’s death in 1949, Thomas took over the work in Turkish.”  –Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion (Princeton University Press, 2015)

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turkish puppets4[Hacivat Karagöz puppet]. Rare Books: South East (Cotsen) Toys 152507

See also: Hayâlı̂ Küçük Ali, Karagözün Kağıthane safası ([Istanbul]: Ahmet Kâmil Matbaası, 1928). Annex A, Forrestal (TEMP) PL248.H331 K372 1928


Sibyl Holding a Book

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A wood figure of a woman holding an open book has been with the department for many years, with little provenance or information. The back is not finished, indicating she was to be place or hung against a wall. The words on the book are no longer visible, if they ever were. The label on the back is below and slightly readable: “Statue [?] 16 = siecle [?]” Any help you might offer would be appreciated.


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150 year ago, London society split in two


In August 1866, members of the British elite toasted the return of Edward John Eyre (1815-1901), ex-Governor of Jamaica, with a banquet in Southampton. John Ruskin delivered the key note address. The same evening, opponents of Eyre organized their own meetings, calling for Eyre to be tried for murder in the hanging of George Gordon following the Morant Bay rebellion of 1865.

The first group organized the Eyre Defence Fund and the second established the Jamaica Committee. Lines were drawn in dining clubs, meeting halls, and street corners across London.jamaica3 (2)


Charles Darwin argued with Charles Dickens; Thomas Huxley clashed with Thomas Carlyle; Herbert Spencer debated John Ruskin and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

In November 1866, Huxley wrote to Darwin: “…I am glad to hear from [Herbert] Spencer that you are on the right (that is my) side in the Jamaica business. But it is wonderful how people who commonly act together are divided about it.” —Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, v. 1 (Macmillan and Co., 1913).

In her essay, “On the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica and the Governor Eyre-George William Gordon Controversy, 1865-70,″ Sarah Winter notes,

“Repeatedly, English grand juries refused to indict Eyre or convict his subordinates. The question of the constitutionality of martial law raised by the Jamaica Committee’s prosecutions implied that taking sides for or against Eyre’s actions was fundamentally an expression of political views about the legal limitations on the use of force in imperial governance. Defending the importance of the constitutional principles at stake in the Jamaica Committee’s unsuccessful prosecutions of Eyre, Mill articulated the duty to uphold the rule of law as a fundamental principle of modern citizenship. The question of the extent of Gordon’s rights as a “fellow-citizen” within the British Empire, however, remained unresolved.
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Images come from a photography album in the Graphic Arts Collection documenting the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica (1865), the Indian Northwest Frontier Hazara Campaign (1867-1870), views of Malta, Ireland, Guernsey, Spain, and elsewhere, compiled [attributed to] by Alexander Dudgeon Gulland. Permanent Link:

Jean-Frédéric Schall, 18th-century Kardashian


John Milton (1608-1674), Le Paradis perdu, poëme par Milton; édition en anglais et en français. Ornée de douze estampes imprimées en couleur d’après les tableaux de M. Schall (Paris: André Defer de Maisonneuve, rue du Foin S. Jacques, no. 11, 1792). 12 stipple engravings, printed à la poupée. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize PR3561.F5 D8 1792q

The twelve plates, one each for the twelve books, are after paintings by Jean-Frédéric Schall (1752-1825) [below], which were after previous Milton designs by Francis Hayman (ca. 1708-1776). The plates were engraved by Alexandre L. Clément; Nicolas Colibert; Mme de Monchy; and Jean-Baptiste Gautier.


Jean-Frédéric_Schall_(1752-1825)Jean-Frédéric Schall studied at the Ecole Publique de Dessin in Strasbourg and the Académie Royale in Paris, but never became a member. “After leaving the school, Schall immediately found himself launched into the world of frivolous and romantic high society which enlivened Paris during the Ancien Régime. It was a world in which actresses from the Comédie Française, dancers and fashionable women rubbed shoulders with the financiers and princes of whom they were the mistresses. Schall quickly became the beloved painter of this world.” —Benezit Dictionary of Artists

An example of the lively circles in which Schall traveled is faithfully depicted in Louis Léopold Boilly’s painting Meeting of Artists in Isabey’s Studio (1798). Schall stands near the center of this scene [below]. The painting is currently hanging in Musée du Louvre in Paris.