Printers’ Marks on Eighth Avenue

The next time you are running to Penn Station on your way back to Princeton, look up.

On August 8, 1915, The New-York Tribune announced plans “To erect printing crafts building: Plans provide for a 21 story structure costing $2,500,000 site at 34th Street and Eighth Avenue much space already has been leased from the plans by big concerns as the proposed printing crafts building will look.”


One of the first to rent space and move into the building was Louis H. Orr (1857-1916), director of the Bartlet Orr Press and son of the wood engraver John William Orr (1815-1887). Louis Orr grew up surrounded by members of the printing trade. As the new building was being conceived and designed, Orr suggested including printers’ marks on the façade in honor of the many presses that had come before. His own firm’s design was, of course, included.

Around the same time, the Bartlet Orr Press published a brochure giving a little history of printers’ marks, which was collected by Elmer Adler when he opened his own press Pynson Printers. Happily, Adler’s copy made its way into the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton University Library.



Horace Townsend (1859-1922), Printers marks: being a brief consideration of some marks used by printers in the XV century with special reference to a XX century mark (New York: Bartlett Orr Press, 1913). From the library of Elmer Adler (1884-1962). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize 2009-0109Q



The New Incas

Paul Yule, The New Incas; introduction by John Hemming (London: New Pyramid Press, 1983). Copy 18 of 40. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2006-0047E

In reorganizing the elephant volumes today, this embossed leather binding caught our attention. The New Incas was published, printed, and bound in 1983 by Robert Hadrill at The New Pyramid Press, Waterside Workshops, 99 Rotherhithe Street, London. The photographs are by Paul Yule.




For other Hadrill bindings, see:

Some Trout: Poetry on Trout and Angling, with etchings by D.R. Wakefield (Wiveliscombe, Somersetshire: Chevington Press, [1987]). Publisher’s quarter forest green morocco and marbled paper boards, by Robert Hadrill. Copy 27 of 75. Rare Books: Kenneth H. Rockey Angling Collection (ExRockey) Oversize PN6110.A6 S65e

My Illustrated Alphabet (London: New Pyramid Press, 1986). Designed, printed, and bound by Robert Hadrill–t.p. verso. Copy 16 of 65. Cotsen Children’s Library (CTSN) Folios / Picture Books 17215


Nathaniel Orr and Company

Orr Family Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

“If you would like,” wrote J. A. Adams, “I can give you constant work on these drawings for 18 or 20 months. I would rather you would come to this city, as it would be more convenient. Please let me know whether you can devote your whole time to them or how many you can do.” The offer was made in the summer of 1843 to Nathaniel Orr (1822-1908). Engraver Joseph Alexander Adams (103-1880) and in turn, the artist of the original designs John Gadsby Chapman (1808-1889), were both exceedingly pleased with the young artist’s work and thanks to this offer, Orr moved to New York City to work full-time on an Harper and Brother’s Illustrated Bible.

In the 1850s, Orr established his own firm and needed a logo. Various drawings survive leading to several wood engravings used in advertising, stationery, and other N. Orr and Company information. Two of his engraved blocks are held in the Orr Family Papers, collected by his daughter and donated to the University of Florida.

Woodblock seen above, at an angle with raked light and below, straight on from the top.

A second version of Nathaniel Orr’s company logo can be seen below. If it looks familiar, it was the logo borrowed by Sinclair Hamilton, Class of 1906, and stamped on the cover of his book: Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers 1670-1870 (with the inner text changed to present his own information). It would have been kinder if Hamilton had included an entry on Nathaniel Orr either in his first volume or the supplement.


The earliest version of this design was printed in 1843 [seen below], when Nathaniel Orr first moved from Albany to New York City.


A third design was created for the head of Orr’s stationery near the end of his career. After several tries, seen below, the final design was printed.

Orr Family Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

Mezzotint copper plate for Orpheus and Eurydice

Copper plateEngraved by Frank Short (1857-1945) after a painting by George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), [Mezzotint copper plate for] Orpheus and Eurydice, 1889. Engraved top right: London. Published Oct. 1st 1889 by Rob. Dunthorne at the Rembrandt Head in Vigo Street. W. Graphic Arts Collection GC148 Printing blocks and plates collection.

Paper printEngraved by Frank Short (1857-1945) after a painting by George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), Orpheus and Eurydice, 1889. Mezzotint. Edition: 300, printed by Frederick Goulding (1842-1909) for Robert Dunthorne. Inscribed top right: London. Published Oct. 1st 1889 by Rob. Dunthorne at the Rembrandt Head in Vigo Street. W. Mezzotint. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2005.01549.


When we were asked if we had an example of mezzotint engraving in our copper plate collection, this was the first to emerge.

From 1880 forward, the London print dealer and publisher Robert Dunthorne (born ca. 1851) was the official publisher to the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers and manager of the Dunthorne Gallery on Vigo Street. By 1881, he changed the shop’s name to The Rembrandt Gallery, making sure to include this on each of the prints he published.

In 1889, Dunthorne commissioned a mezzotint of the painting Orpheus and Eurydice by George Frederick Watts (1817-1904), one of several Watts did on the story of these lovers. The difficult job of mezzotint engraving was given to Frank Short (1857-1945) and the plate of printed by Frederick Goulding (1842-1909). 300 sheets were printed and barely two years later, Short retired the plate, carving this phrase into the bottom right: I wrought thee. / Thou served me well. / Now rest thee. / Frank Short Sept. 1891.

Probably not long after this, Dunthorne presented the plate to “Princetown College” (the name was officially changed to Princeton University in 1896). No record of the gift is recorded in any of the college newspapers or yet found in library records.

A copy of the print has been added to the collection so plate and paper can be viewed side-by-side, not only as a beautiful work of art but also a wonderful teaching tool.

I wrought thee./ Thou served me well./ Now rest thee./ Frank Short Sept. 1891

London. Published Oct. 1st 1889 by Rob. Dunthorne at the Rembrandt Head in Vigo Street. W

Printed by Frederick Goulding


Orpheus and Eurydice from the painting by G.F. Watts, R.A.
Copper plate lit from above with less contrast.

Liebig Company’s Trade Cards

Times of the day


If you have been to the south bank arts complex in London and seen the tower labeled OXO, you were enjoying the Art Deco design of architect Albert Moore, who reconstructed the complex in the late 1920s for the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, manufacturers of Oxo beef stock cubes.

The company was founded and named for the chemist Justus von Liebig (1803-1873) who developed a beef extract in 1847, which was consumed in great quantities throughout Europe.

Almost as popular as Liebig’s extract were the chromolithographic trade cards he produced and distributed. From 1872 into the 1970s, the company printed cards featuring every imaginable profession and genre. Collectors number the cards at 11,000 distributed in 14 countries and languages.

Princeton has a small group, not all complete sets but in beautiful condition. Here are a few examples.

From the Life of a famous painter
Painters and sculptors

Justus von Liebig, Introduction à l’étude de la chimie (Paris: L. Mathias, 1837). Recap 8306.584.1837

Carlo Paoloni, Justus von Liebig; eine Bibliographie sämtlicher Verőffentlichungen mit biographischen Anmerkunge (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1968) Z8504.52.P365 1968

Justus von Liebig, Experimental Chemie ([Darmstadt?], 1848). QD43.B75 1848

Justus von Liebig, Liebig’s Complete Works on Chemistry (Philadelphia: T.B. Peterson, 1852). QD28.L54 1852

Free Non-Linear Literature

Over the last year, Google Creative Labs and the London publisher Visual Editions have been releasing visual books for your phone under the imprint Editions At Play. Two new titles are being offered today, for free and for your participation.

“Today we’re excited to release two new books which, we hope, will continue to inspire fresh conventions around how we think of books and ‘bookness’, and how authors can work with developers and designers to create new formats of non-linear, dynamic literature”:

A Universe Explodes, by Google’s own Tea Uglow, is “on one level the story of a parent losing their grip on reality. The book is accessible to all, but owned by only a few, and when one owner is ‘finished’ with their version, they dedicate it to a new owner, triggering a change of ownership which is recorded to the Blockchain–a permanent, public database accessible to everyone. There are 100 ‘versions’ of A Universe Explodes, which each start the same. The first 100 owners receive a personal dedication from Tea, and are then invited to edit the book themselves by removing two words and adding one. They in turn dedicate their version to someone else, creating a ‘daisy book chain’ which gradually gets shorter until there is only one word per page in the book.”

The second title is Seed, by British author Joanna Walsh, is the story of a young woman coming of age in the 1980s, digitally growing and decaying around an unmentionable event that every reading will see differently.


Date: January 29, 1932; Material: Metal

“The misfortune happened to me on May 28, 1929. Being dragged along by the waters of the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas, I saw myself in such great danger that I invoked Our Lady of San Juan de los Lagos with a true heart, and at that moment my salvation came from a friend who, bravely fighting the fearful waters, was able to pull me to the river bank. In thanksgiving for so apparent a miracle, I make public the present retablo. San Francisco de Rincón. January 29 of 1932. Domingo Segura.”

This is one of 170 stories documented and transcribed by Jorge Durand and Douglas S. Massey in their 1995 book and exhibition Miracles on the Border. Each story resulted in the painting of a retablo, an offering for miracles granted, usually painted on small pieces of tin.

A reference question today reminded us that Massey photographed his collection of retablos and the images have been added to ArtStor, so that everyone can enjoy and even download them.

ArtStor notes,

“The retablos collected by Massey and Durand for Miracles on the Border, which date from 1912 to 1996, represent modern expressions of this traditional Mexican art form. Produced for Mexican migrants to the United States, these retablos were left anonymously at churches as offerings for miracles granted. They are united by the types of miracles they commemorate, specifically, the trials undergone by migrants crossing the border from Mexico into the United States. Massey and Durand used these images to study the social conditions surrounding Mexican migration, conducting statistical analyses of the age, gender, geographic origins, and eventual destinations of the migrants who commissioned the votive paintings.”

Massey is the Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Since 1988, Massey has collaborated with long–time colleague Jorge Durand, research professor of anthropology at the University of Guadalajara, collecting and studying retablos — religious folk art produced for Mexican migrants to the United States.

Material: Metal

Information can also be found on the website for the Mexican Migration Project (MMP), where the collection is described and several artists introduced:

The term retablo, from the Latin retro tabula, or “behind the altar,” originally referred to the large paintings depicting saints, Jesus, or the Virgin Mary, which hung behind altars in Catholic churches. In Mexico, retablos, also called laminas, came to denote the small devotional paintings that devout Mexicans would commission as ex–votos, or votive offerings, given in fulfillment of a vow or in gratitude for divine intercession.

Date: January 11, 1986; Material: Metal

Jorge Durand and Douglas S. Massey, Miracles on the Border: Retablos of Mexican Migrants to the United States; with Photographs by the Authors (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1995). Firestone Library (F) ND1432.M46 D87 1995

Creator: Aragón, José Rafael, ca. 1795-1862.; Date: 2nd quarter 19th century .; Material: Gesso.; Tempera.; Pine.; Panel (wood); Measurements: 8 x 11 inches.; Repository: Museum of New Mexico.; Accession Number: #L.5.54-54

There are additional retablos on Artstor from other collections, such as this piece owned by the Museum of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

The Valise

Latin American Studies and the Graphic Arts Collection are collaborating on the purchase of the limited edition publication La valija (The Valise), which was unveiled Tuesday night at the Museum of Modern Art. The collective artists’ project unites seven South American artists—Johanna Calle (Bogotá, Colombia), Matías Duville (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Maria Laet (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Mateo López (Bogotá, Colombia), Nicolás Paris (Bogota, Colombia), Rosângela Rennó (Belo Horizonte, Brazil), and Christian Vinck Henriquez (Maracaibo, Venezuela)—with the Argentine writer César Aria.

The artists created over 50 original artworks responding to Aria’s novel Un episodio en la vida del pintor viajero (An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter), which follows the German painter Johann Moritz Rugendas’s 1837 journey through South America.

Designed to fit in a special valise, the works include original prints, maps, artist’s books, airmail envelopes, origami toys, posters, a sound recording, and a hand blown glass sculpture, all reflecting the artists’ shared affinity for geography, travel literature, and book-making.








To celebrate the publication of The Valise, Aria gave a private reading for members of the Library Council of The Museum of Modern Art. He told the audience that he had wanted to be a painter but now paints with his words. Rejecting computers, Aria said he prefers to write using a fountain pen (he has an extensive collection) on good heavy paper.







For more information on this project, see

The novelist was recently profiled in The New Yorker to mark the publication of Ema the Captive, his 13th novel in English. See: Alena Graedon, “César Aira’s Infinite Footnote to Borges,” The New Yorker, January 27, 2017

Probably the best seller of 1786

A Wonderful Discovery of a Hermit Who Lived Upwards of 200 Years ([United States: s.n., 1786?]). Broadside with hand colored woodcut. Sinclair Hamilton Collection of American Illustrated Books. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 110

An Account of the Wonderful Old Hermit’s Death, and Burial ([Boston?: Printed by Ezekiel Russell?, 1787?]). Broadside with hand colored woodcut. Sinclair Hamilton Collection of American Illustrated Books. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Hamilton 111

The Sinclair Hamilton collection holds two broadsides concerning a hermit “who lived upwards of 200 years.” In the first, the hermit (who told everything but his name) was discovered in 1785 by “two Virginia gentlemen, Captain James Buckland and Mr. John Fielding.” The second describes a visit in 1786 by Dr. Samuel Brake, who offered the hermit a drink of rum, his first drink of alcohol and shortly after, the hermit died. “A deplorable ending to a man who had lived 200 years without liquor and might have lived 200 years more had he not drank that horrid draught!”

The text in each of the broadsides was also published in small booklets, which sold well.

“Probably the best domestic seller of 1786 was James Buckland’s An Account of the Discovery of a Hermit, Who Lived about 200 Years in a Cave at the Foot of a Hill, 73 Days Journey Westward of the Great [Allegheny] Mountains, which appeared in that year at [Pittsburgh], Portsmouth, Middletown, New Haven, Norwich, and Boston, and which went through several myth-adding editions in the next few years.”

“Its vogue is noted here merely to emphasize the fact that the American public was becoming prepared for that literary enfranchisement noticeable in the last years of the eighteenth century.” –Earl L. Bradsher, The Cambridge History of American Literature: Later National Literature: pt. II (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1921).

“The next day they did not depart as they had proposed, but being so much pleased, they tarried several days. At their departure they used their utmost endeavours to persuade the Hermit to come off with them; but he refused, and said he had been exceeding happy in their company, and could have entertained them longer; as for leaving his Cave he could not, he thought Heaven had provided that place for his dwelling, in which he ever expected to reside while he lived in this world. Notwithstanding his reluctance to leave his Cave, he was exceedingly affected with their leaving him, he wept like a child, and taking Capt Buckland by the hand, he embraced him, wishing him prosperity, after which they departed.”

In American Bibliography: 1786-1789 (1912), Charles Evans lists the following works by James Buckland:

19527 — An Account of the Discovery of a Hermit, Who Lived about 200 Years in a Cave, at the Foot of a Hill, 73 Days Journey Westward of the Great [Allegheny] Mountains Written By James Buckland And John Fielding, The Persons Who Discovered Him. [Pittsburgh]: Printed by John Scott and Joseph Hall, 1786.

19528 — The Remarkable Discovery of an American Hermit, Who Lived Upwards of 220 Years. Portsmouth: Printed and sold by George Jerry Osborne. 1786.

19529 — A Surprizing Account of an Old Hermit Lately Discovered in America; To Which Is Added, an Elegant Engraved Typographical Plate, Containing the Hermit, and the Travellers who Discovered Him… Middletown: Printed and sold by Woodward and Green. 1786.

19530 — A Surprizing Account of an Old Hermit, Lately Discovered in America. With an Elegant Engraved Typographical Plate, Containing the Hermit and the Travellers Who Discovered Him.  New-Haven: Printed by Daniel Bowen. 1786.

19531 — A Wonderful Discovery of an Old Hermit, Who Lived Upwards of Two Hundred Years. [Ornament.] Norwich: Printed by John Trumbull, M.DCC.LXXXVI.

19532 — A Wonderful Discovery of a Hermit! And a Most Remarkable Narrative of a Citizen of London, Who Left his Native Country on Account of Being Connected with a Nobleman’s Daughter, and Sailed in a Ship Bound for Italy . . .  [Boston: Printed by Ezckiel Russell and] Sold at the Office near Liberty Pole, [1786].

A Letter to Bailey and His Elephant, part 3

Thanks to the help of Jennifer Lemmer Posey, Associate Curator of the Circus Museum at The Ringling and Editor of Bandwagon, The Journal of the Circus Historical Society, we have the identity of the gentlemen seated above, drawn on an envelope by Henry Herman Cross (1837-1918) and mailed June 30, 1884, to James Anthony Bailey (1847-1906).

He is the entrepreneur and circus owner Adam John Forepaugh (1831-1890), once called ‘the Nobelist Roman of them all.’ From 1865 through 1890, Forepaugh owned and operated a circus under various names including Forepaugh’s Circus, The Great Forepaugh Show, The Adam Forepaugh Circus, and Forepaugh & The Wild West. His operations were at least equal to or larger than those of P. T. Barnum.

Forepaugh’s outfit “even claimed forty elephants for the 1883 season in response to the birth of P. T. Barnum’s ‘baby elephant’ at his winter quarters barns in Bridgeport the year before. The ‘Elephant wars’ of the 1880s were a result of a generation of gambling management tactics that many people understood as bluster.” — Susan Nance, “Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus,” JHU Press, Jan 14, 2013.