Maxim Gorky and Zena Peschkoff, his adopted son

In clearing out an office recently, a platinum print was found signed by the American photographer Alice Boughton (1865-1943). It is a portrait of Maxim Gorky and Zena Peschkoff, his adopted son taken around 1910. This appears to be a slightly different moment than the print owned by the Metropolitan Museum:

The April 1914 issue of Wilson’s Photographic Magazine [Graphic Arts Collection HSV 2007 0005M] offers a biographical profile of Boughton written by Beatrice C. Wilcox that mentions the sitting:

While she is interested in illustrative work and in out-of-doors studies, Miss Boughton’s principal work is in portrait photography. Many celebrated men and women have sat to her for their portraits, and not the least interesting part of her work is in coming in contact with these various personalities. An experience never to be forgotten was the kindliness of Prof. William James, who had time for everybody, and the sympathetic touch and vivid personality of Ellen Terry.

Celebrities are not always kindly and sympathetic, or even interested in their own pictures, but the photographer must in some way try to get in touch with each one. For instance, Maxim Gorky, who spoke no language but Russian, sat gloomily absorbed in his own thoughts and expected the photographer to do everything. Miss Boughton finally penetrated his gloom and got a look of responsiveness through her interest in his young adopted son, who spoke French and acted as interpreter.

She has taken actors in small dressing rooms, on the roof, and fire escapes, and has overcome many obstacles and perplexities of lens and camera, but, in her opinion, handling the people is the hardest work of all. A photographer must have the social instinct, a sympathetic personality, tact and the infinite patience to make his sitters feel at ease and to bring out the best qualities of each one.

Maxim Gorky (1868-1936) lived in Europe and then America from 1906 to 1913. In the United States he started his classic novel The Mother about a Russian Christian woman and her imprisoned son, who both joined revolutionaries under the illusion that revolution follows Christ’s messages. Here is the New York Times announcing Gorky’s visit:

GORKY’S ADOPTED SON TELLS OF WRITER’S PLANS. On His Way Here to Get Aid for the Revolutionists. TO SPEAK IN MANY CITIES Pleshkoff Says His Foster Father Will Show Russian Life as It Really Is. Nikolay Zavolzsky Pieshkoff, adopted son and protege of Maxim Gorky, the famous Russian writer, who is due here in a few days, talked with a TIMES reporter yesterday. For more than a year, the young man, who fled from Russia to escape persecution by the agents of the Government, has been living quietly on the east side and earning his living in the mailing room of Wilshire’s Magazine. [full article:]

Whilst Time is unveiling, Science is exploring Nature

Museum late Sir Ashton Lever’s Albion Place the Surry side of Black Fryers Bridge. Admission ticket engraved by William Skelton (1762-1848) after a design by Charles Reuben Ryley (1752?-1798) [London], ca. 1788. Graphic Arts Collection 2019- in process

In William Hone’s 1838 The Every-day Book and Table Book; Or, Everlasting Calendar of Popular Amusements, Sports, Pastimes, Ceremonies, Etc, this ticket for the Leverian Museum is illustrated and the following explanation given:

“It seems appropriate and desirable to give the above representation of Mr. Parkinson’s ticket, for there are few who retain the original. Besides—the design is good, and as an engraving it is an ornament. And—as a memorial of the method adopted by sir Ashton Lever to obtain attention to the means by which he hoped to reimburse himself for his prodigious outlay, and also to enable the public to view the grand prize which the adventure of a guinea might gain, one of his advertisements is annexed from a newspaper of January 28, 1785.

J. R. Ashton Lever’s Lottery Tickets are now on sale at Leicester house, every day (Sundays excepted) from Nine in the morning till Six in the evening, at One Guinea each; and as each ticket will admit four persons, either together or separately, to view the Museum, no one will hereafter be admitted but by the Lottery Tickets, excepting those who have already annual admission. This collection is allowed to be infinitely superior to any of the kind in Europe. The very large sum expended in making it, is the cause of its being thus to be disposed of, and not from the deficiency of the daily receipts (as is generally imagined) which have annually increased, the average amount for the last three years being 1833l. per annum.

The hours of admission are from Eleven till Four. Good fires in all the galleries.

The first notice of the Leverian Museum is in the “Gentleman’s Magazine” for May, 1773, by a person who had seen it at Alkerington, near Manchester, when it was first formed. Though many specimens of natural history are mentioned, the collection had evidently not attained its maturity. It appears at that time to have amounted to no more than “upwards of one thousand three hundred glass cases, containing curious subjects, placed in three rooms, besides four sides of rooms shelved from top to bottom, with glass doors before them.” The works of art particularized by the writer in the “Gentleman’s Magazine,” are “a head of his present majesty, cut in cannil coal, said to be a striking likeness; indeed the workmanship is inimitable—also a drawing in Indian ink of a head of a late duke of Bridgewater…”

The winner of the 1786 lottery was estate agent James Parkinson (1730-1813), who moved the collection to the “Rotunda” near Blackfriars Bridge. Our ticket dates from this time, notably the Blackfriar’s address appears in the title.

Below the image is the text: Whilst Time is unveiling, Science is exploring Nature.

Read more: J. C. H. King, “New Evidence for the Contents of the Leverian Museum,” Journal of the History of Collections, 8, no. 2 (1996): 167–86.

Adrienne Lois Kaeppler, Holophusicon–the Leverian Museum : an eighteenth-century English institution of science, curiosity, and art (Altenstadt, Germany: ZKF Publishers; Honolulu, HI: Distributed in the United States by Bishop Museum Press, 2011). Marquand Library Oversize AM101.L67 K34 2011q

José Vasconcelos: not a man to inspire indifference

The UNESCO: International Bureau of Education noted that “José Vasconcelos is, without doubt, one of the most controversial figures in the social and political history of Mexico. Although he spent a good part of his life in either voluntary or compulsory exile, the impact of his original personality goes beyond his own lifetime, while his vast educative, literary, political and philosophical work is still widely studied and discussed today. He was not a man to inspire indifference, and has therefore been described in all manner of highly contradictory terms. His life covers a large period of Mexican history, from Porfirio’s dictatorship, through the revolutionary movement of 1910, and up to the establishment and consolidation of civilian regimes.”

Author, philosopher, politician José Vasconcelos (1881-1959) served twice as Minister of Education and also held the position of Rector of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He exerted a profound influence on Mexican culture by promoting education for the lower classes and encouraging popular exposure to literature. One of the ways he accomplished this was through several magazines that reprinted European authors, including El Maestro.

In her paper, “Dreaming of a cosmic race: José Vasconcelos and the politics of race in Mexico, 1920s–1930s”, Cogent Arts & Humanities 3, 2016, Linnete Manrique writes:

“Vasconcelos introduces the first volume [of El Maestro] by stating that the purpose of the magazine is “to disseminate practical knowledge among the country’s population.” He notes that the magazine will be distributed gratis precisely because it is meant for the general public. However, it is clear that his five-page introduction addresses one particular group of people and not all, that of intellectuals.

Vasconcelos critiques his colleagues for their lack of action and indifference toward the masses, and rallies them to become involved in his educational crusade. In his characteristic grandiose speech, Vasconcelos declares, “[the masses] will become a ruinous burden if we abandon them, if we maintain them ignorant and poor; but if we educate them and make them strong, their strength merged into ours will make us invincible.”

“From his point of view, the intellectual is the only one capable of leading the Mexican nation toward modernity and into the world stage. In a similar vein, Vasconcelos explains that the content of the magazine will not be what people want but what they need, with “the continuous purpose of elevating them.”

Authors presented in El Maestro include Romain Rolland, George Bernard Shaw, and Leo Tolstoy, which serve to highlight Vasconcelos’ aspiration that through European literature the Mexican people would become civilized [or so he believed].

El Maestro, Revista de Cultura Nacional. Tomo I: 1,2,3,4,5y6; Tomo II: 1,2,3,4y5,6; Tomo III: 1,2,3,4,5. México: Talleres Gráficos de la Nación, 1921-1923. Firestone Library 0906.608


Reynolds Stone

“Under God’s power she flourishes”

The Graphic Arts Collection just received a copy of Humphrey Stone’s new biography Reynolds Stone: a memoir (Stanbridge, Wimborne Minster, Dorset : Dovecote Press, 2019). GA 2019- in process. A small part of Stone’s legacy involved Princeton University Press and the design of the Princeton University Library’s bookplate, still used today [above].

Engraver and designer Reynold Stone (1909-1979), named after his ancestor, Sir Joshua Reynolds, went to Magdalene College, Cambridge to read history before starting work in 1932 as a graduate apprentice at Cambridge University Press. There he met their typographical adviser Stanley Morison who was to become a personal friend. Morrison later described Stone as the “best letterer in the country since Eric Gill died.” Stone already had a natural flair for typesetting winning the first prize of five guineas in 1931 for title pages set in Monotype in the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) Industrial Design Competition. The following year he again took the first prize.

For more information on the many, many bookplates used over the years at Princeton, see:

This is a list of the shelf marks and ownership marks of the Princeton University Library. Here also is a listing of ownership marks of collections and libraries absorbed into the main collections.

See also Myfanwy Piper, Reynolds Stone ([London] Art and Technics, 1951). Graphic Arts Collection NE1217 .S78 P5 “First published 1951 by Art and Technics ltd. … London …”–t.p. verso.


Cultures of the Book

A few fortunate scholars, historians, and collectors are meeting this week in Pescara, Italy, birthplace of the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio, Prince of Montenevoso, Duke of Gallese (1863-1938). Today alone we enjoyed 18 presentations on such diverse topics as the 1491 Kalendrier des bergiers; the digitization of the Baskerville punches; publishing under Franco’s dictatorship; publishing within the cultural revolutions in the Arab-Muslim world; and falconry in Jincheng Yinglun China.

Historic map of the area.


We were introduced to a number of significant individuals we should have already been familiar, such as Donella Meadows and her Limits to Growth. [one of many videos online above]

Another is the Indian inventor Shankar Abaji Bhisey ( and his Bhisotype [left], along with dozens of other mostly unrealized inventions.

“In 1920, Bhise started the Bhise Ideal Type Casting Corporation in New York to develop and market the type-casting and lead rule-casting machines. He spent over 80,000 dollars on this venture. His efforts were not in vain. Mr W. Ackennan of the Linotype Company of America had this to say about Bhise. He said, ‘He (Bhise) has now solved a problem which had been the dream of type-machine inventors for many years.'” –Achievements in Anonymity, Unsung Indian Scientist, edited by Kollegala Sharnia and Bal Phondke.


Another whole day to come and another dozen presentations. Thanks in particular to the Centre for Printing History and Culture, University of Birmingham/Birmingham City University and the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, University of Chieti-Pescara.



Nobody’s Boy

Wood engraving by George Gorgas White (ca.1835-1898)

Frank Drayton, Nobody’s Boy (Philadelphia: Winner & Shuster, 1856). Graphic Arts Collection GC048 Sheet music collection

“Written expressly for and respectfully dedicated to James Lynch, Esq. of Sanford’s Opera Troupe…” Cover art designed by George Gorgas White (ca.1835-1898). Guitar. First line of text: The flow’rs of spring have pass’d away./ First line of refrain: The days are few since I was call’d.

Sinclair Hamilton thought highly of George G. White’s illustrations and attributed the design for this famous temperance book to White, engraved on wood by Van Ingen.

T.S. Arthur, Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1854). Graphic Arts Collection Sinclair Hamilton 1274

Still another interesting personality about this time and a man whose death only occurred last year, was George G. White, an all-around illustrator and an exceedingly prolific workman, who, never achieving great results. nevertheless played a prominent part in the illustrative history of his times. A Philadelphian by birth, White settled early in New York and was a contributor to most of the pictorial publications of the day. He illustrated many school books and was the author of a series of drawing-books, for many years in popular favour among school boards. He possessed a most remarkable and famous collection of clippings from the European illustrated papers, which were carefully filed away ready for instant reference, and he used them freely. The work of the late Sir John Gilbert attracted him greatly and that English draughtsman was his inspiration for a long time, and indeed, his influence was ever apparent through his work. White was not over-scrupulous in appropriating from his scrapbooks, and his ability to adapt the work of other and abler men to his own requirements was well known among his professional brothers and was a standing jest. Later in life, White did all sorts of hack work. the quality and character of which reflected on him but small credit. — Arthur Hoeber, The Bookman, Volume 8 (1899), page 218

El Río. The River: A Collaboration

Zoe Leonard and Dolores Dorantes, El Río. The River: A Collaboration (Mexico City: Gato Negro, 2018). Risography. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2019- in process

“The River is a collaborative project between Zoe Leonard and Dolores Dorantes, with photography by the former and text by the latter. Richly textured images of water highlight the dynamic nature of the element, with experimental writing focused on topics surrounding dislocation, desire and devastation in a rhythm that matches the ebb and flow of the photography. With Spanish writing accompanied by English translations, the reader is spatially situated in Mexico and is invited to reflect on water as a life force.”

“The book collects unpublished photographs that the American artist Zoe Leonard has taken along the Rio Grande (or Río Bravo) in 2017 and texts commissioned for this project from Dolores Dorantes, Mexican poet and activist, who has been exiled to the United States for years. The book is an immersion into the physical context, the actual barrier; the very heart of the border between Mexico and the United States: the waters of the Río Bravo or Rio Grande. A number of figures in the water recall something else: skin, scars, wrinkles, genitals, the writing of an unknown language. A poem made of photographs, and the depiction of that sequence with a poem made of words. Or rather, a broken bilingual, visual-textual attempt of conversation over the tensions in between a simple, ever-changing but always the same flow of water, and all the terrible complexities around, above, beneath it.

The argument could be simple: at the end and at the beginning, it is only water. As simple, complex, beautiful and terrible as that. Or maybe not: to complete the argument it is necessary to summon the ghost of the body that runs through it.

In the words of Dolores Dorantes: I’m going to walk on water. Say. Bring me all those parts of the body and put them here. Say. I’m the body and I’m on the table. Soy tu cuerpo y estoy sobre la mesa, en la estructura divisoria del mundo. Soy tu cuerpo y estoy sobre la mesa del mercado del mundo. Soy tu cuerpo y estoy sobre la mesa, donde se encausa la corriente del mundo. I’m the farce, arranged at strategic points of our territories. Between the face and neck, for example. Between the anchored ankle and satisfaction.

Interview: Gato Negro — Leon Muñoz Santini from MISS READ on Vimeo.


León Muñoz Santini is the founder of the publishing house Gato Negro Ediciones in his hometown of Mexico City. As a young man, Santini studied political science at the Mexico’s National University but left that field to developed his career in editorial design, with a special focus in the fields of children’s literature, social design, and photography.

He has received multiple awards, among them the New Horizons in Bologna Ragazzi Awards (2009 and 2013); 50 Books / 50 Covers of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (2009); Quorum Award (2009); and repeatedly Caniem Editorial Arte Award, the White Ravens in Germany and the Book Bank of Venezuela.


The First Ferris Wheel

A Brief History of the Invention and Construction of the Ferris Wheel together with a short biography of George W.G. Ferris, Esq. (Chicago: The Ferris Wheel Company, 1893). Graphic Arts collection GA 2019- in process.

A rare little pamphlet has come into the Graphic Arts collection depicting the world’s first modern Ferris Wheel. Seven pages of letterpress open to a center fold birds eye view entitled: Birdseye view of Exposition Building from the summit of the Wheel.” The booklet includes technical details about the construction of the Wheel, ending “Each revolution took twenty minutes, passengers remaining on board during two revolutions.”

See also:
(Circuit Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit. July 14, 1906.)
No. 5S0.
1. PATENTs–-INVENTION.—PLEASURE WHEEL. The Conderman patent, No. 669,621, for a pleasure wheel similar to the Ferris wheel, except that it is lighter and the parts are detachable, so that it may be taken apart to facilitate its transportation from place to place, is void for lack of invention; the only changes over prior portable structures of the kind being such as required only mechanical skill to make.

Dore’s Folies Gauloises

Gustave Doré (1832-1883), Folies gauloises depuis les Romains jusqu’à nos jours : album de mœurs et de costumes (Paris: Au Bureau du Journal Amusant, [between 1852 and 1859]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

At the age of seventeen Dore composed a very amusing book, called “The Unpleasantnesses of a Pleasure Trip” (” Desagrements d’un voyage d’Agrement”), illustrated with twenty-four lithographs and one hundred and seventy-four drawings. This was brought out at Arnould de Vresse’s, and attained immense popularity….

His next little work was for the Journal Amusant called “Folies Gauloises depuis les Romains jusqu’a’ nos jours. Album des mceurs et des costumes.” This book was no less successful than the preceding ones. Dore worked so quickly that he amazed even his publishers. It sufficed to suggest a notion to him; he forthwith gave it artistic being upon the wood; and while Paris was devouring his latest production, another was already in process of preparation. He seemed possessed by a demon of work, and was the despair of all his contemporaries, who had only one hope, viz., that he would tire of such excessive labour. But they hoped in vain.

He worked for the pleasure of working, never for mere gain. His drawings were only fairly paid for at that time; indeed he produced them with such marvellous facility that he was oftener under-paid than not. Publishers readily saw how little effort production was to the gifted lad, and were not slow to make capital out of his very quickness. He absolutely flooded the market with his work. Perhaps this was unwise. “But one paramount idea beset him,” said M. Lacroix, “to be constantly at work and constantly before the public. When his sketches were not accepted and paid for, he often gave them away, in order to be able to say, ‘So-and-so is my publisher.’ For a time he literally depreciated the value of his own labour by the enormous prodigality of his pencil.”
–Blanche Roosevelt, The Life and Reminiscences of Gustave Doré (1885). Marquand Library ND553.D7 M2

A Fox Shimmy (Foxtrot)

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired this illustrated sheet music for a Spanish foxtrot titled Ku-Klux-Klan fox-shimmy, with music by W. Keppler Lais (pseudonym for Patricio Muñoz Aceña, 1894-1940) and lyrics by Dowler-Sam (Madrid Unión Musical Española, 1923).

Published in Madrid, the two verses end with a similar but contradictory chorus:
Ku-Klux-Klan… a mi me das horror… Yo pensaba ir… mas ya no voy a Nueva-York.
Ku-Klux-Klan… Ya no me das horror… no pensaba it… Mas ya me voy a Nueva-York

Ku-Klux-Klan … you give me horror … I thought to go … but I’m not going to New York anymore.
Ku-Klux-Klan … You don’t give me horror anymore … I didn’t think about it … But I’m going to New York!

[poor translation] In the catacombs of New York City the white sect of terror have their lair. They have sworn to exterminate all Negros and the Ku-Klux-Klan is feared throughout Atlanta. They travel disguised with hoods and robes as Nazarenes in mysterious processions. And at midnight, in the shadows of the night, the Ku-Kux-Klan burns Negros at the stake.


Patricio Muñoz Aceña wrote a second foxtrot the same year:

See more: Danny O. Crew, Ku Klux Klan Sheet Music: An Illustrated Catalogue of Published Music, 1867-2002 (2015).