Mienenspiel = Facial Recognition

In 1839, Georg Büchner published Lenz, a ground-breaking novella about schizophrenia. In 2020, Ines von Ketelhodt designed and published Mienenspiel, incorporating sections of Büchner’s text onto its reflective pages, placing the reader/viewer in the uncomfortable position of being outside and inside the book at the same time.

The artist writes: “The book investigates the wide range of human facial expressions and the topic of facial recognition. Thanks to the mirror effect of the paper, which is coated in silver foil, viewers see themselves in the book as they turn the pages. They can imitate the illustrations of facial expressions that are printed on the foil, and modify their reflected images accordingly. The text passages from Georg Büchner’s Lenz (1839) describe “all the subtle, barely noticed play of facial features,” “the human nature,” respect and tolerance for individuals, the “unique existence of each being,” as well as Medusa’s head.”

The original German text is printed on each right-hand page, with an English translation on the left. The texts are set around an oval shape that is reminiscent of a mirror or even a face. Viewers can read the text by turning the book counter-clockwise. This also changes the reflected surroundings of the double-page spread.

The face illustrations and texts are letterpress printed with polymer plates on Chromolux paper, which is coated on one side with aluminum. The reverse and uncoated side of the papers are glued together along the front edge.


Ines von Ketelhodt, designer, printer, and bookbinder, Mienenspiel (Flörsheim, Germany: Ines von Ketelhodt, 2020). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020-in process. 40 p., embossed cloth-covered boards housed in a paper-covered slipcase, 35 numbered and signed copies. von.ketelhodt@k-und-m-design.de;  www.tloen-enzyklopaedie.de

The German dramatist and novelist Georg Büchner (1813-1837) died at the sadly young age of twenty-four, leaving the question of what he might have accomplished had he lived longer. In 1828 he became interested in politics and joined a group which later on probably became the Gießen and Darmstadt section of the “Gesellschaft für Menschenrechte” (Society for Human Rights). In 1835, his first play, Dantons Tod (Danton’s Death) about the French revolution was published, followed by Lenz, a novella based on the life of poet Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz.

His unfinished and most famous play, Woyzeck, was the first literary work in German whose main characters were members of the working class. Published after Büchner’s death, it became the basis for Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck, which was first performed in 1925.–[Wikipedia]

Lenz, Georg Büchner’s visionary exploration of an 18th-century playwright’s descent into madness, has been called the inception of European modernist prose. Elias Canetti considered this short novella one of the decisive reading experiences of his life, and writers as various as Paul Celan, Christa Wolff, Peter Schneider, and Gert Hofmann have paid homage to it in their works.

Published posthumously in 1839, Lenz provides a taut case study of three weeks in the life of schizophrenic, perhaps the first third-person text ever to be written from the “inside” of insanity. An early experiment in docufiction, Büchner’s textual montage draws on the diary of J.F. Oberlin, the Alsatian pastor who briefly took care of Lenz in 1778, while also refracting Goethe’s memoir of his troubled friendship with the playwright.”– https://archipelagobooks.org/book/lenz/


Artist statement: “Ines von Ketelhodt studied Visual Communication at the University of Art and Design in Offenbach, Germany. Since 1986 she works in the fields of photography, typography, artist’s books, and graphic design. She was a co-founder of the book artists’ collective Unica T (1986–2001). From 1997 to 2006 she worked together with Peter Malutzki on the fifty volumes book art project Zweite Enzyklopädie von Tlön. In 2002 she moved to Flörsheim, Germany and opened a joint workshop with Peter Malutzki. Her main interests include: experimental typography; experimental photography (such as long exposure time, taking photographs by chance); combination of photography and typography; combination of old and new techniques (such as letterpress, original photographic prints, offset and digital printing).”

Princeton students, we now also have access to the 1982 film by Alexandre Rockwell, an adaptation of Lenz, transposed from 18th century Germany to New York in the early 1980s. https://www.kanopy.com/product/lenz

Body seating dimensions and other early 20th-century issues in car design

Here are a few of the materials pulled for the upcoming writing seminar “Living with AI” led by instructor William Penman and assisted by Anu Vedantham, assistant university librarian for research services. The students will compare early 19th and 20th-century technology with contemporary ways we are “searching YouTube, unlocking our phones with our faces, seeing advertising on Facebook, asking Siri to turn up the music . . . actively and passively use artificial intelligence (AI) daily. How does AI promise new kinds of interactions? Why are some industries turning to AI while others are not? How are the risks and benefits of AI shaping the future design of these technologies?”

Both fiction and non-fiction texts are being considered, including the definitive 20th-century car book, The Great Gatsby.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The cruise of the rolling junk,” in Motor (New York, N.Y.)  Vol. 41, no. 3-5 (Feb.-Apr., 1924). Oversize 2003-0046F. “Beginning an adventure in motoring by the author of “This side of paradise.” — Pt. 1. “The modern argonauts, the author and his wife, in a battered Expenso, are en route from Westport, Connecticut, to the family homestead in Alabama. … ” — Pt. 2. “The author and his wife are driving from Westport, Connecticut to the family home in Alabama, in quest of peaches and biscuits …” — Pt. 3.

The Locomobile book: a description of the latest models. Designs by T.M. Cleland (Bridgeport, Conn.: Locomobile Company of America, 19150. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize TL215 .L636 1915q

George E. Goddard, Body seating-dimensions ([Detroit, Mich.? : Society of Automotive Engineers?], 1922). Rare Books Oversize 2008-0305Q

Fortitude outside New York Public Library reading The Great Gatsby.

Poitevin and photographic printing without silver salts

Each of Princeton’s two newly acquired copies of Alphonse Poitevin’s Traité de l’impression photographique sans sels d’argent [=Manual on photographic printing without silver salts] were published in 1862 with an introduction by Ernest Lacan (1829-1879), but have a different set of illustrations. This is not uncommon, since many collectors over the years have removed the plates from some copies and pasted in prints in others.

Between the two volumes, Princeton not only has all the recorded prints in other copies but holds this studio portrait [above] not documented in any other copy of the book. The unidentified gentlemen include Poitevin on the left, Lacan in the middle, and his editor Léon Vidal (1833–1906) on the right. This volume also bears a signed presentation “Á Monsieur Léon Vidal, hommage de profonde gratitude, Poitevin.”

Trained as a chemist, Poitevin worked for the Mines Nationales de l’Est and later, at a silver mine at Kefoun-Theboul in Africa. He became interested in photography, experimenting with methods of photochemical engraving using silver or gold on metal plates. His discoveries in the action of light on bichromated gelatin laid the basis for photolithography, the carbon process, and more. Several of his processes were patented, including collotypes and carbon printing (1855-56), which led to this handbook on non-silver and direct positive processes. See also: https://www.princeton.edu/~graphicarts/2011/07/alphonse_louis_poitevin.html

Alphonse-Louis Poitevin (1819-1882), Traité de l’impression photographique sans sels d’argent: contenant l’histoire, la théorie et la pratique des méthodes et procédés de l’impression au charbon, de l’hélioplastie… [=Manual on photographic printing without silver salts: containing the history, theory and practice of methods and processes of carbon printing, helioplasty …]; avec une introduction par M. Ernest Lacan (Paris: Leiber, 1862). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

Photochemical engraving

When Worlds Collide: Poetry and Computation


Members of the class “When Worlds Collide: Poetry and Computation” visited the Graphic Arts Collection looking at ways the classic poetry book has been deconstructed beginning with Walt Whitman’s 1855 Leaves of Grass to a 2017 scroll edition of Hart Crane’s The Bridge with woodblock prints by Joel Shapiro. A wide variety of materials were pulled including four distinct versions of Stéphane Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard. Pages designed in positive and negative space are featured in Paul Éluard’s Proverbe, Guillaume Apollinaire’s Calligrammes, and Werner Pfeiffer’s Liber Mobile.

The interdisciplinary seminar, taught by Brian W. Kernighan and Efthymia Rentzou, brings together humanities and applied sciences, addressing questions of literacy, media, and modes of knowledge. The course is organized around poetry and digital technology and explores the history of each as systems of relating, organizing, and understanding the real. Media technologies and means of communication for both poetry and computing — from orality to writing, from the alphabet to the printing press, from the scroll to the book, from computers to the internet — structure our discussion.

Here’s a pdf of the checklist: poetry










Primer centenario de la abolición de la esclavitud en Puerto Rico, 1873-1973

One of the pleasures of welcoming classes to view the Graphic Arts Collection is rediscovering forgotten or under-used resources. During our session with SPA 387/AAS 387 “Puerto Ricans Under U.S. Empire: Memory, Diaspora, and Resistance” taught by Cesar Colon-Montijo and Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones, we rediscovered Primer centenario de la abolición de la esclavitud en Puerto Rico, 1873-1973 or The First Centenary of the Abolition of Slavery in Puerto Rico 1873-1973. This limited edition of 9 fine art prints includes the following:
Rescate by José R. Alicea
Dos caras by Myrna Baez
Abolición? by Rafael López del Campo
22 de marzo by Antonio Maldonado
1873-1973 by Augusto Marín
Y tu abuela, dónde está? by Antonio Martorell
Cumbé by Jaime Romano
1873-1973 by José A. Rosa Castellanos
Quien compra a quien by José Antonio Torres Martinó

Here are a few images:

“This seminar examines the ethical and historical dimensions of the 2019 Summer Puerto Rican Protests. Developing within an ongoing financial catastrophe and the trauma of Hurricane María, most issues raised today are deeply rooted in the history of U.S. imperial domination since 1898. The course aims to rethink questions of second-class citizenship, colonial capitalism, militarization, ecocide and massive migrations, as well as gender, sexual and racial inequalities. Special focus on how musical, artistic, religious, political, and literary traditions shape memory and resistance in Puerto Rico and in its vast diasporic communities.”

Primer centenario de la abolición de la esclavitud en Puerto Rico, 1873-1973: portafolio conmemorativo =[First centenary of the abolition of slavery in Puerto Rico, 1873-1973: Commemorative portfolio] (San Juan de Puerto Rico: Fondo de Becas para las Artes Plásticas, 1973). [2] leaves, [9] leaves of plates. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2009-0001F. “Edición única de 125 ejemplares … 115 numerados en arábigo y 10 en romano.” The Graphic Arts copy is no. 94.

Mere Bubbles from The Scourge

When it began, The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly specialized in exposing patent medicines, with a chart of fakes in each issue. Each issue had a folding plate, a hand colored etching, that served as illustrations to various articles, only later evolving to single theme political caricature. The plates in the first volume were all by Samuel De Wilde, known for his theatrical portraits exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1792 until 1821. Later issues include plates by George Cruikshank, Charles Williams, and others.

The First Series was published in 66 monthly numbers 1811 to 1816, bound with a yellow pictorial wrappers. Volumes 1-2 were published by the unidentified M. Jones at 5 Newgate Street and sold by J. Johnston, Cheapside and Goddard, Pall Mall. Beginning with volume 3,William Naunton Jones took over as publisher from the same address. The magazine’s title was altered with volume 7 to The Scourge or Literary, Theatrical, and Miscellaneous Magazine. The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to hold a complete set.

January 1811
Samuel De Wilde (1751-1832), “New Roads to the Temple of Fortune” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly v.1, frontispiece (London: M Jones, January 1, 1811). An illustration to four articles in the magazine: (1) “John King,” pp. 1-27. (2) “James Henry Leigh Hunt,” pp. 46-64. (3) “Anthony Daffy Swinton,” pp. 27-46: (4) “Rev. William Huntington, S.S.,” pp. 64-77.


“Our Artist has omitted the title of the Caricature, which ought to be MERE BUBBLES.”

February 1811
Samuel De Wilde (1751-1832), [Mere Bubbles] in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly, v.1, before page 85 (London: M Jones, February 1, 1811). An illustration to four articles in the magazine: [1] An account of Mrs. Clarke (pp. 102-36); [2] An account of Sir Godfrey Webster; [3] An account of Mr. William Taylor of the Opera House (pp. 146-64); [4] An account of a quack, Edward Senate, pp. 137-46.


March 1811
Samuel De Wilde (1751-1832), “Battle Royal, or Which Has It” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly v.1, before p. 175 (London: M Jones, March 1, 1811).
A satire on the hopes of the Opposition that the Prince would dismiss the Perceval Ministry on the establishment of the Regency.

April 1811
Samuel De Wilde (1751-1832), “Truth in Jeopardy, or Power, Versus Freedom” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly v.1 (London: M Jones, April 1, 1811). On 4 Mar. 1811 Lord Holland moved for an account of all ‘Information “Ex Officio”‘ in libel cases from 1 Jan. 1801 to the end of 1810.


May 1811
Samuel De Wilde (1751-1832), “British Cookery or ‘Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire’” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly v.1 (London: M Jones, May 1, 1811). The plate is explained; “That Ney should be in a pickle and Buonaparte in a stew John Bull will think very natural. General Graham . . . [gives] new vigor to the flame of patriotism.” The spitted goose is Massena.


June 1811
George Cruikshank (1792-1878), “Dinner of the Four in Hand Club at Salthill” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly, v.1, before p. 431. (London: M Jones, June 1, 1811). Illustration to an article ‘The Dinner at Salt Hill’ in The Satirist, March 1, 1811. The Four-in-hand Club met in Cavendish Square, seven members only. The president was C. Buxton (probably Charles, 1787-1817). There is a second state, with the title Bang-up Dinner or Love and Lingo, a frontispiece to Lexicon Balatronicum, A Dictionary of Buckish Slang University Wit, and Pickpocket Eloquence, compiled originally by Captain Grose . . .’, 1811.


July 1811
George Cruikshank (1792-1878), “The Return to Office” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly v.2, frontispiece (London: M Jones, July 1, 1811). Also an illustration to The Duke of York, the Whigs and the Burdettites, pp. 1-5.

August 1811
George Cruikshank (1792-1878), “The Blessing of Paper Money, or King a Bad Subject” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly v.2, p. ? (London: M Jones, August 1, 1811).

September 1811
George Cruikshank (1792-1878), “Quadrupeds; or the Managers Last Kick. Last Scene” in The Scourge, or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly v.2, before p. 177 (London: M Jones, September 1, 1811). [On 18 July 1811 a heroic, tragic, operatic drama with the title of the print was played for the first time by the English Opera Company at the Lyceum.]


October 1811
George Cruikshank (1792-1878), “The Examination, of a Young Surgeon” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly, v.2, before p. 263 (London: M Jones, October 1, 1811). The plate illustrates ‘Medical Science Exemplified’, pp. 263-8, ridiculing the education and examination of surgeons with special reference to two Scottish examiners, clearly David Dundas and Everard Home, both Serjeant-surgeons to the King.

November 1811
George Cruikshank (1792-1878), “Interior View of the House of God” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly, v.2, before p. 349 (London: M Jones, November 1, 1811). A savage account of Carpenter, a paper-maker of Neckinger House, appeared in the August number of The Scourge v.2. 94-102. The ‘tickets’ must be the half-sheets signed and sealed by Joanna Southcott, by which the faithful were ‘sealed’ or certificated for the millennium.

December 1811
George Cruikshank (1792-1878), “Princely Piety, or the Worshippers at Wanstead” in The Scourge or Monthly Expositor of Imposture and Folly v. 2, before p. 473. (London: M Jones, December 1, 1811).

Vol. 3
No. 13. The Rehearsal, or the Baron and the Elephant. January 1st, 1812.
No. 14. The Mountebanks, &c., &c. February 1st, 1812.
No. 15. Princely Amusements, &c., &c. March 1st, 1812.
No. 16. Princely Predictions, &c., &c. April 1st, 1812.
No. 17. The Prince of Wales, &c., &c. May 1st, 1812.
No. 18. The Antiquarian Society. June 1st, 1812.
Vol. 4
No. 19. The Political Medley, &c., &c. July 1st, 1812.
No. 20. The Cow Pox Tragedy. 1812.
No. 21. The Coronation of the Empress of the Nairs. September 1st, 1812.
No. 22. An Excursion to R Hall. October 1st, 1812.
No. 23. The Court of Love, &c., November 12th, 1812.
No. 24. Management of Butts and Hogsheads. December 1st, 1812.
Vol. 5
No. 25. Quadrupeds, or, Little Bonev’s Last Kick. January 1st, 1813.
No. 26. The Storming of Monopoly Fort. February 1st, 1813.
No. 27. John Bull in the Cellar, &c., kc. March 1st, 1813.
No. 28. State Mysteries, or, a Vision of Pall Mall. April 1st, 1813.
No. 29. The Delicate Investigation. May 1st, 1813.
No. 30. A Sepulchral Enquiry into English History. June 1st, 1813.
Vol. 6
No. 31. John Bull in the Council Chamber. July 1st, 1813.
No. 32. Preparing John Bull for General Congress. August 1st, 1813.
No. 33. The Regency Park. September 1st, 1813.
No. 34. Rival Candidates for the Vacant Bays. Oct. 1st, 1813.
No. 35. Benefits of a Plentiful Harvest, November. 1st, 1813.
No. 36. The Sale of the Coal Heaver’s Scraps. Decr.1st, 1813.
Vol. 7—”The Scourge or Literary, Theatrical, and Miscellaneous Magazine.”
No. 37. Smuggling in High Life. January 1st, 1814.
No. 38. The Divine and the Donkey, or Petworth Frolicks. February 1st, 1814.
No. 39. Imperial Botany, &c., &c. March 1st, 1814.
No. 40. Modern Idolatry, or, Editors and Idols. April 1st, 1814.
No. 41. Nic, alias Nap’s March to Elba. May 1st, 1814.
No. 42. Royal Munificence, &c., &c. June 1st, 1814.
Vol. 8
No. 43. Spirits at Work—Joanna Conceiving. July 1st, 1814.
No. 44. The R 1 Pedagogue and his Ushers. August 1st, 1814.
No. 45. A Paradise for Fools, &c. In three compartments. September. 1st, 1814.
No. 46. Hocus Poems, or, Conjurers Raising the Wind. October 1st, 1814.
No. 47. Delivering a Prophetess. Nov. 1st, 1814.
No. 48. The Siege of St. Quentin. December. 1st, 1814.

Vol. 9
No. 49. The Property Tax—Civic Champions, or, the Darling in Danger. January 2, 1815.
No. 50. Amusements at Vienna, &c., &c. Feb. 1st, 1815.
No. 51. John Bull’s Three Stages. In three compartments. March 1st, 1815.
No. 52. The High Winds of March blowing Events from all quarters. April 1815.
No. 53. The Phomix of Elba resuscitated by Treason. May 1st, 1815.
No. 54. Preparing for War. June 1st, 1815.
Vol. 10
No. 55. Nebuchadnazzars Dream. July 1st, 1815.
No. 56. A Financial Survey of Cumberland, &c. August 1st, 1815.
No. 57. Napoleon’s Trip from Elba to Paris, and from Paris to St. Helena. Sept. 1st, 1815.
No. 58. Boxiana, or, The ‘Fancy. October. 1st, 1815.
No. 59. The Progress of Disappointment, or the Hopes of a Day. November 1st, 1815.
No. 60. State of Politicks at the close of the year 1815. December 1st, 1815.
Vol. 11
No. 61. Royal Christmas Boxes and New Year’s Gifts, 1815 & 16. January 1st, 1816.
No. 62. Odds and Ends for February, 1816. In three compartments. Feb. 1st, i816.
No. 63. The Pall Mall Apollo, or, R tv in a Blaze. March 1st, 1816.
No. 64. Royal Nuptials. April 1st, 1816.
No. 65. Economy—Anticipation. Two compartments. May 1st, 1816.
No. 66. A Bazaar. June 1st 1816.



Ostafrikanische Gletscherfahrten

Hans Heinrich Joseph Meyer (1858-1929), Ostafrikanische Gletscherfahrten: Forschungsreisen im Kilimandscharo-Gebiet (Leipzig: Bibliographisches Institut for Duncker & Humblot, 1890). Mounted frontispiece and 12 heliogravure (=photogravure) plates after negatives by Meyer, 8 albumen silver prints after Meyer, 2 double-page lithographic maps, routes added by hand in red, and one large folding color lithographic map by Bruno Hassenstein, along with wood engraved illustrations and tailpieces in the text. Graphic Arts collection GAX 2020- in process.



Three times Hans Meyer attempted to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. On the third try, he succeeded in being the first European to make the climb. The following year, he published a richly-illustrated first-person account of this ascent and in 1891, published an English translation with the same images (Across East African Glaciers. An account of the first ascent of Kilimanjaro). The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have acquired the rare fist edition of his account with photographs and photogravure plates from the negatives Meyer made during the third expedition. Here’s a quick review of his climbs:

“In 1887, Professor Hans Meyer, a German geographer, made his first attempt upon the summit of Kibo. Accompanied by Baron Von Eberstein, Meyer was eventually defeated by a combination of thick snow, 30m ice walls and his partner’s altitude sickness. The following day, from the safety of The Saddle, Meyer estimated that the ice walls descended to just below the crater rim at an altitude of about 5,500m. The ice was continuous over the entire peak and it was evident that the summit could not be reached without some considerable ice climbing.

After an aborted expedition in 1888, Meyer returned the following year accompanied by the renowned Alpinist, Ludwig Purtscheller and a well organised support group determined to scale the peak. The climbers came prepared with state of the art equipment and established a base camp on the moorland from where porters ferried fresh supplies of food from Marangu. …[after various attempts] they returned to advance camp to try again after three days. This time the route was clearly marked and the previously cut ice steps had held their shape. The rim was reached in 6 hours and at exactly 10.30hrs Meyer became the first recorded person to set foot on the highest point in Africa. https://ntz.info/gen/b00840.html#id04807


Saint-Gaudens rejected

[Above] Louis Saint-Gaudens (1854-1913), previously attributed to Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), Study for World’s Columbian Exposition Commemorative Presentation Medal, reverse, no date. Inscripcast bronze with hand-painted corrections, presumably by Saint-Gaudens. American Numismatic Society Collection.
[Below] Louis Saint-Gaudens (1854-1913), previously attributed to Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), Study for World’s Columbian Exposition Commemorative Presentation Medal, reverse, 1892-1893. Cast plaster. 1974.63. Harvard Art Museum. Inscription, on recto: “The Columbian Exhibition in commemoration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Landing of Columbus *** to Williams Bradford. On shield: E Pluribus Unum. On verso: PHI”
In 1892, Augustus Saint-Gaudens accepted a commission to design the official award medal for the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. The United States Senate Quadro-Centennial Committee loved the design for the obverse or front, with Columbus taking his first step on the shores of the New World. Unfortunately, the nude male figure Saint-Gaudens called “the Spirit of America” on the reverse was deemed improper and replaced with a design by Charles E. Barber, chief engraver at the United States Mint. The medal was finally awarded to recipients in 1896.

Saint-Gaudens’ brother Louis is thought to have modeled the nude figure, for which the Harvard Art Museums has an 8 inch plaster and the Numismatics Society has a double-sided bronze. Only a few copies of the rejected medal were cast by Parisian medal engraver Ernest Paulin Tasset as a favor to Saint-Gaudens, who gave one to the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

Princeton’s medal was paged to the reading room this week, to see if ours has a design by Saint-Gaudens or Barber. For better or worse, ours is the official medal, with only one side designed by Saint-Gaudens.

See more: Michael F. Moran, Striking Change (2008).
See more: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/14941

World’s Columbian Exposition Commemorative Presentation Medal 1892–94, cast by 1896. Princeton Numismatics Collection. Note: naked women were not rejected.

See also in Firestone Library: Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848–1907), James McCosh (1811-1894), 1889. Bronze. PP35. Inscribed on front face of base: JAMES MCCOSH DD.LL D / BY / AUGUSTUS ST GAUDENS / WHEN THOU WALKEST THROUGH / THE FIRE THOU SHALT NOT BE / BURNED NEITHER SHALL THE / FLAME KINDLE UPON THEE

Willa Cather’s April Twilights

In June 1931, Willa Cather received the first honorary degree awarded to a woman by Princeton University. It was only one of many awards she received, including the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for her novel One of Ours. Also that year, Cather published a second edition of her first book of poems April Twilight, originally appearing in 1903 (Ex 3670.29.312.1903). This had a special importance to Princeton, as it was printed by Elmer Adler, later to be Princeton’s first curator of graphic arts.

Alfred Knopf wrote to Cather in July of 1922 that he had attracted the interest of “one of the finest printers I know” with the idea of producing “a quite handsome de luxe edition” of Cather’s April Twilights … . He continued, “I can’t point to much work they have done for us except the one full-page advertisement that we had in the New York Times a couple of months ago which attracted a good deal of favorable attention.” The printers in question were Adler’s Pynson Printers, and the deluxe edition they produced was April Twilights and Other Poems (1923). –read more Matthew Lavin “Material Memory,” Studies in the Novel 445, no. 3 (Fall 2013).

Willa Cather (1873-1947), April Twilights and Other Poems (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1923). Graphic Arts RCPXG-5905085 “Of this book, there were printed … by the Pynson Printers … four hundred and fifty numbered copies, each signed by the author”–P. [68].  This edition includes 13 new poems, eliminating 13 from the original volume.

Knopf warned Cather, who insisted on typographic perfection, “Now the point is just this, and I am going to be quite frank with you and expect you to be equally frank with me. The whole job in all its details would have to be left to these printers. In a work, I get the manuscript and we both get finished books. For myself, I am satisfied that I would like the job they turn out. …”

Adler had only recently opened his press but already had a reputation as a perfectionist, as outlined in ‘A Talk of the Town’ piece for the New Yorker in November 12, 1932:

“Mr. Elmer Adler worked in the family clothing-manufacturing business—Rochester-Adler Clothiers of Rochester, N.Y.—for twenty years before, at the age of thirty-eight, he came to the definite conclusion that it was boring him stiff. Then, without any intermediate steps to speak of, he came to New York and started Pynson Printers, Inc., naming it after Richard Pynson, the famous printer of the sixteenth century. It has been one of the few shops in the city doing fine handwork exclusively, and from its presses come the most de-luxe of special editions; the Random House “Candide,” for example.

Mr. Adler had long been interested in fine printing, apparently acquiring the taste when preparing ads for his family’s business; now he is one of the most important experts in the country, advising the Times, Alfred Knopf, and many others about formats and type faces. He had three partners when he started, but two dropped out shortly afterward. He was about to close up the business then, and would have if he hadn’t hired a Miss Greenberg to give him a hand through the last few days. Miss Greenberg was pretty peeved when she discovered the business was folding up just when she arrived and, after looking around a day or two, said: “why fold it up? It’s a nice little business.” So Mr. Adler decided to continue, with Miss Greenberg as business manager that was in 1922.

Two years later, Adolph Ochs picked Pynson as the best printing house and invited it to move into his Times Annex, where he had planned to collect the best practitioners of all the graphic arts. He abandoned this plan later, finding the Times needed all the room itself, but Pynson stayed. It’s still there, occupying a gallery full of bells, a library full of old books, an office, and a large light room full of nine printers, hand-setting. In the printshop is a hundred-year-old press upon which proofs are pulled. In the book room are many rare and typographically interesting books.; firsts of the fifteenth century, and things like that.

Mr. Adler is short, single, clean-shaven, and wears Adler ready-mades. He doesn’t set type himself. It doesn’t interest him, and if it did he’d be out of luck, as the owner of a shop can’t join the union. He designs the books, corrects proof, and the like, Has no salesmen, never solicits work, and takes jobs only on the understanding that he’s the boss so far as printing goes. His shop turns out three or four books a year that people hear about, always in small quantities.

It also prints books privately for amateur poets and such. When the Times’ employees gave Mr. Ochs a testimonial book on his seventieth birthday, Adler printed it: one copy, at a cost of $4,000. He has done special editions of Willa Cather, Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, Elinor Wylie, James Stephens, and others. He doesn’t care about the literary quality of his books, however; they’re just fine typography and handmade paper to him. Given a free hand, he’s enjoy getting out an issue of the congressional record. He’s the chief editor, and chief everything else, of the Colophon, the Book-Collector’s Quarterly. It started up two years ago and has done very well, everything considered; editions limited, of three thousand this year. He prints parts of each issue and the rest is done in half a dozen other fine printshops in this country and England.”




Penitent Prostitutes, 1765

Magdalen Chapel by Thomas Rowlandson in Microcosm of London (London: R. Ackermann, [1808-11?]). Oversize Rowlandson 1808.02f

The Hymns Anthems & Tunes; with the Ode used at the Magdalen Chapel Set for the Organ Harpsichord, Voice, German-Flute or Guitar (London: Thompson, 1765?). Graphic Arts Collection 2020- in process

“The Magdalen House, for the reception of penitent female prostitutes, is situated on the east side of the road leading from Blackfriars-bridge to the obelisk in St. George’s-fields: it consists of four brick buildings, which inclose [sic] a quadrangle, with a basin in the center. The chapel is an octangular edifice, erected at one of the back corners; and to give the inclosed court uniformity, a building with a similar front is placed at the opposite corner.

This benevolent institution was projected in the year 1758, by Mr. Robert Dingley; it was at first kept in a large house, formerly the London Infirmary, in Prescot-street, Goodman’s-fields, and was called the Magdalen Hospital. The utility of this charity was so conspicuous, and so well supported, that the views of the benefactors extended t the building an edifice more enlarged and convenient for the purpose…” —Microcosm of London (continues below)

This book of hymns and tunes now in the Graphic Arts Collection was specifically written for the women at the Magdalen Hospital for the Reception of Penitent Prostitutes. It is one of two editions thought to have been published in 1765, the other by Henry Thorowgood. The frontispiece engraving features  “A Magdalen in Her Uniform” with Magdalen Chapel in the background (cf the Thorowgood edition without the building and the figure reversed),

One source credits this popular chapel for bringing a number of men back to Sunday services, given the women in the choir.