Carl Browne’s Open Letter

Carl Browne (1849-1914), Carl Browne’s Illustrated Open Letter (San Francisco, Calif.: C. Browne, [1800s]). January 16, 1887 issue composed of multiple sheets, entirely hand drawn and printed, with masthead also hand drawn. Cover design includes “a copy of an etching by Th. Nast of himself and presented by the Great Caricaturist of Harper’s Weekly to Carl Browne, ‘The Nast of the Pacific Coast.'” Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process


The Washington Post, Saturday, January 17, 1914

Carl Browne was an American cattle rancher, cartoonist, journalist, and politician. A former close political associate of controversial San Francisco politician Denis Kearney, Browne is best remembered as a top leader of the Coxey’s Army protest movement of 1894.

Carl Browne was a hulking ex-con, an itinerant labor leader and a mesmerizing speaker. A guest at Coxey’s farm and oddly dressed in fringed buckskin suit, he’d marched around, pronouncing that Coxey had been Andrew Jackson in a past life. Browne considered himself the reincarnation of Jesus Christ, and asked that admirers call him “Humble Carl.” His eye for spectacle also made him a brilliant promoter. Together with Coxey, he planned a pilgrimage to Capitol Hill to present their Good Roads Bill, a $500 million Federal jobs plan.

Read more:

Browne was born July 4, 1849 in Newton, Iowa, and worked a variety of jobs during his younger years, including time as a printer, a painter, a cattle rancher, a cartoonist, and a journalist. He moved to San Francisco and became active in politics as an active member there of the Workingmen’s Party. Browne was recognized for his commitment to the organization and served as personal secretary to Denis Kearney, a politician who championed exclusion of the Chinese people from the United States.

While in San Francisco, Browne launched a radical weekly newspaper, which he edited and for which he drew political cartoons, The Open Letter. In a 1929 monograph, historian Donald L. McMurry described the colorful Browne in the following manner: “Browne’s picturesque appearance made him a conspicuous figure wherever he went. Tall, heavy, and bearded, his unkempt hair streaked with gray, he added to the effect by wearing an exaggerated Western costume. It consisted of a buckskin coat with fringes, and buttons made of Mexican silver half-dollars, high boots, a sombrero, a fur cloak when weather permitted, and around his neck, instead of a collar, a string of amber beads, the gift of his dying wife…. Closer inspection revealed the reason why his men called him ‘Old Greasy. It was suggested that he would have been a more pleasant companion if he had bathed oftener.”

At a Chicago convention of advocates of free silver held in August 1893, Browne made the acquaintance of Ohio politician Jacob Coxey, who saw in the charismatic labor agitator Browne a potential popularizer of his proposed governmental reforms. Browne had become well-known in Chicago as an exceptional public speaker, addressing a series of public meetings at Lake Front Park on the problem of unemployment and its possible solution — one means of which, he is said to have suggested, would be a march of unemployed workers on the nation’s capital.

Impressed with the charismatic Browne’s effectiveness and intellectual proximity to his own ideas, Coxey convinced Browne to join his campaign for the Good Roads Bill — a plan for putting the unemployed to work improving the transportation infrastructure of the United States. Browne obliged, both speaking in its behalf and drawing a series of cartoons illustrating the dysfunctional nature of the current economic system and depicting the benefits to be obtained by society through passage of the Coxey plan.

Coxey was pleased with Browne’s commitment to the cause of labor reform and persuaded him to stay with him at his home in Massillon, Ohio through the winter of 1893-94, a grim time when the United States was buffeted by the severe economic contraction known to history as the Panic of 1893. Together Coxey and Browne discussed a means of better publicizing the Good Roads Bill, with the pair determining to, in Coxey’s words, “send a petition to Washington with boots on” through a cross-country march of the unemployed.

Browne and Coxey held a series of public meetings in Massillon and other towns in the area, drawing attention to Coxey’s proposed Good Roads Bill and drawing attention to the planned march, which was to depart from Massillon for Washington, D.C. on Easter Sunday 1894.

Browne gained notoriety for his Theosophic religious views and Coxey was converted to his unorthodox ideas. They came to regard their march as an “Army of Peace,” giving the name “Commonweal of Christ” to their movement. This quasi-religious interpretation of the 1894 march movement was broadly ridiculed, generating some publicity for the cause but generally doing “a great deal more harm than good,” in the estimation of at least one historian.

The “Commonweal of Christ” arrived in Washington, DC on May Day, 1894, with about 400 marchers in the ranks. “Coxey and Brown made their way to the steps of the United States Capitol to address the accompanying crowd, but were blocked by mounted police. The pair jumped a stone wall in an attempt to reach their goal, along with Christopher Columbus Jones, leader of the marchers from Philadelphia, but police on foot chased the three down and detained them, first holding down Browne and beating him, tearing his clothes and ripping off the amber bead necklace from his neck. Coxey was released, but Browne and Jones were placed under arrest, with bond posted by two wealthy sympathizers of the marchers.”

On May 2, Coxey, Browne, and Jones were charged in police court with carrying an illegal banner on capitol grounds, with Coxey and Browne additionally charged with trampling the grass. A jury trial followed, during which the District Attorney denigrated Browne as “a fakir, a charlatan, and a mounteback who dresses up in ridiculous garments and exhibits himself to the curious multitudes at 10 cents a head.” The three defendants were convicted on the morning of May 8 and freed on bond.

Sentence was pronounced on May 21, with Coxey and Browne each fined $5 for walking on the grass, and Coxey, Browne, and Jones sentenced to 20 days in jail for carrying banners on capitol grounds.

In January 1914, Browne collapsed and died at the age of 64 years old. Special thanks to Donald (“Rusty”) Mott for all his good research on Browne. This post is also copied from the following sources:

W.T. Stead, Chicago To-Day, or, The Labour War in America. London: Review of Reviews, 1894.

Donald L. McMurry, Coxey’s Army: A Study in Industrial Unrest, 1893-1898. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1929.

Benjamin F. Alexander, Coxey’s Army: Popular Protest in the Gilded Age. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015; *pg. 119.

Carlos A. Schwantes, Coxey’s Army: An American Odyssey. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 1985.



The Darts Champion

To make a color lithograph, each individual color in the design must be separated and drawn onto an individual lithographic stone. Then, the stones are printed one after another onto a single sheet, with careful registration.

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a progressive series of proofs for the well-known lithograph The Darts Champion by Barnett Freedman (1901-1958). This large (590 x 920 mm) print was commissioned by Guinness for its first lithograph series in 1956 to celebrate the publication of Guinness World Records. It was printed at the Curvwen Studio and the proofs kept by Freedman for many years. Emma Mason also used it to illustrate “Who? When? Where? The Story of the Guinness Lithographs” (see: Here’s the series:


Epigraph: He was not unlike a traveler walking into a landscape which may prove mirage.—from Patrick White, Riders in the Chariot.

“The Staglieno cemetery near Genoa was created in the 19th century. It is home not only to those whose bones lie buried beneath, but also to the splendidly ornate display of sculptures erected in their memory. Carved from inanimate lumps of stone, these memorials have become more than the monumental tributes they were originally commissioned to be. Now feathered with a gentle coat of dust, each appears to have taken on a life of its own and out of the melancholy of death comes the comforting notion of a presence that will remain.”—Nazreali Press.

In 2002, a bound volume of Lee Friedlander’s photographs taken in the Staglieno cemetery was published in an edition of 2,000 copies. The duotones were printed by Oceanic Graphics in China and released by Nazraeli Press in Tucson, Arizona. Peter Galassi, former Chief Curator, Department of Photography, MoMA, wrote in the foreword, “Photography likes sculpture. It likes to see how things look from different angles, especially things that don’t move. It likes light falling on surfaces and the way the two become one in the picture. . . . Above all, it likes the way photography, which makes living figures still, awakens figures frozen in stone.” – [Marquand recap Oversize TR658.3 .F75 2002q]

The following year, a special limited edition portfolio of 15 photogravures from the Staglieno series negatives was produced at the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, New York. The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have acquired copy 10 of the edition of 25 portfolios.

Housed in a red velvet-covered clamshell case with the title embossed in silver, it is a tour-de-force of photographic capture together with expert copperplate printing. Master printer Lothar Osterburg created the copper plates and printed the edition with the assistance of students at the School of the Arts at Columbia University. Each print is signed and titled Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy.



Lee Friedlander, born in 1934, began photographing the American social landscape in 1948. He was the first photographer to receive the MacDowell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (1986), and in 1990 he received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award. His photographs are included in major museum collection around the world and there are multiple websites dedicated to his life and work. See:
; and many others.

Lee Friedlander: Staglieno (New York: LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, 2003). Photogravures by Lothar Osterburg from negatives by Lee Friedlander. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

The Legend of Phra Malai

Guest post by Martin Heijdra, Director, East Asian Library, Princeton University

The following content is largely based upon comparing our images with the list of selected readings at the end of this blog.

The Legend of Phra Malai is one of the core texts of popular Theravada Buddhist teaching in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand. The story relates how Phra Malai, a monk who has accumulated great merit, travels to hell, where people ask him to urge their relatives to make merit on their behalf, which indeed he successfully does after having come back to the human realm. When on earth, Phra Malai receives eight flowers from a poor peasant or woodcutter, offered with the hope to not be reborn as a poor man in his next life. To enable that, Phra Malai goes to the Tāvitiṁsa Heaven, where he meets Indra, the King of Gods, in front of the Cūḷāmaṇi Cetiya, a stupa with the relics of the Buddha’s hair.

This stupa was built by Indra in order to give the Deities an opportunity to continue to gain merit. Indra explains to Phra Malai the circumstances in which twelve of these deva deities had gained their merits. Finally Metteyya, the Buddha of the Future (Maitreya) comes from Tusita Heaven, and converses with Phra Malai. Some detailed ways to gain merit are discussed, including listening in one day and night to the Vessantara Jātaka. A deterioration of the world is predicted, to be followed by the final coming of Metteya, beginning a reign of harmony and happiness. On earth, Phra Malai tells this story to his listeners, explain to them the many ways of gaining merit.



There are several traditions of this legend, from popular to elitist. Ours belongs to the popular Phra Mālai klō̜n sūat พระมาลัยกลอนสวด tradition: illustrated texts written on accordion-folded samut khoi paper manuscripts using Khmer script, but in the Thai language (and incorporating Thai tone marks in the Khmer script). These are recited, sung and dramatized for an unsophisticated audience, with colloquial, sensational, even bawdy texts. The earliest extant version dates to the first half of the 18th century, although earlier versions most likely existed.

Samut khoi books (samut: book, khoi: a kind of tree: Streblus asper, or Trophis aspera) are made of boiled khoi bark: the resulting paste, of a naturally off-white color, is dried on cloth frames, and when ready, inscribed on both sides with black ink (or the paper is blackened with lampblack and inscribed with white or colored chalk/ink.). Recitation sessions (and texts) start after a brief chanting of Pali scripture (usually seven books of the Abhidhamma, i.e. the Basket of Higher Doctrine, the last of the three constituting parts of the Pali Canon which contains a detailed scholastic analysis and summary of the Buddha’s teachings.), before the actual Phra Malai legend begins.


The legend is in rather easy Thai, written in the kap poetry style derived from Cambodian, and emphasizes karmic retribution for sins and good deeds. The popular versions include greatly expanded parts and illustrations about Phra Malai’s visit to Hell. In addition, Phra Malai Klon Suat manuscripts are also commonly combined with at least images (rarely texts) from the Thotsachāt ทศชาติ (The last ten birth tales of the Buddha), as is our version. Indeed, the last tale of the Thotsachāt, the Vessantara Jātaka, is the tale whose recitation in one day and one night is told to Phra Malai to be one of the best merit-increasing endeavors.

The Thai funerary context originally implied entertainment and an atmosphere of fun. Such screens are often depicted in the first illustration of the manuscripts, although not in ours, where the monks are rather serious. Reactions against that began during the times of Rama I, but proved difficult to enforce. Still, reading the Phra Malai in these contexts suffered a slow decline, and is now rarely performed.



Selected sources:
Brereton, Bonnie Pacala, Thai Tellings of Phra Malai: Texts and Rituals Concerning a Popular Buddhist Saint, Tempe: Arizona State University, Program for Southeast Asian Studies, 1995.

Brereton, Bonnie Pacala, “Those strange-looking monks in Phra Malai manuscript paintings: Voices of the text,” paper for the 13th International Conference on Thai studies: Globalized Thailand? Connectivity, conflict and conundrums of Thai Studies, 15-18 July 2017, Chiang Mai, Thailand, pp. 68-75

Ginsburg, Henry, Thai Art and Culture: Historic Manuscripts from Western Collections, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000

Ginsburg, Henry, Thai Manuscript Painting, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1989.

Igunma, Jana, “A Buddhist monk’s journey to heaven and hell,” Journal of International Association of Buddhist Universities 3 (2012), pp. 65-62

Peltier, Anatole, “Iconographie de la légende de Braḥ Mālay,“ Bulletin de l’École Française d’Extrême Orient 76 (1982), pp. 63-76

Explanation of the images
Our version of the Phra Malai Klon Suat contains the following illustrations (the numbers refer to those given to the images given in the digitized version, not to the actual folio):

3. This is the usual opening scene of Phra Malai Klon Suat manuscripts, where monks, carrying their talabat fans preside over the funeral wake of a deceased person. Wakes traditionally were an occasion of entertainment, although the 19th century saw a religious movement and laws against that practice. In fact, both the monks and the attendees are here, in comparison with other manuscripts, rather demure. The Phra Malai manuscript would be read during such funeral wake, making this a self-referential image.

5. This manuscript contains also images from the Thotsachāt (The Ten Birth Tales of the Buddha) and Pali extracts from the Buddhist canon, before the actual Thai Phra Malai Klon Suat starts. These images refer to the third tale. Sama, the future Buddha, looks after his blind parents living as ascetics in the forest. The misguided demon king Piliyakkha shoots Sama when fetching water for his parent, attended by two deer. Thanks to his and his parents’ great merit, Sama comes back to life, and his parents regain their eyesight.

8. In the sixth tale of the Thotsachāt, the future Buddha is a serpent divinity (naga) called Bhuridatta. While coiled around an ant-hill during a fast, he is captured by a vicious hunter who has a spell which can even ensnarl a naga (the spell is hidden in the water he sprinkles on the naga with the branch leaf). The tortured Bhuridatta then is carried to events where has to perform for the hunter, which he does without resentment, ultimately regaining his freedom.

12. These images exemplify the intertwining of the Ten Birth Tales with the Legend of Phra Malai. The left image could come from the fourth birth tale, on King Nimi, who, like Phra Malai, is guided by a divine charioteer through the hells and heavens, as well as the Phra Malai. To the left we see a kapok thorn tree, where adulterers are punished, with the man bitten by a dog and being forced to climb the thorn tree to reach his lover at the top pecked by a vulture. They never meet each other, and the punishment is continuous. To the right we see Phra Malai himself hovering above the denizens of hell. Displayed here are probably those who became intoxicated while on earth, and they have acid or molten copper poured down their throats. Visiting Hell, by his very presence Phra Malai temporarily causes rain to decrease the fire of Hell, allowing the victims to tell their stories. They implore him to make their situation known to their descendants on earth, and create merit on their behalf. The crucifixion shown here and in other similar illustration may be a Western influence of the 19th century—the image above this victim’s head probably derives from a halo, or a crown of thorns; it may also refer to the flying disks which in Hell torture victims’ heads.

24. This is a full-fledged hell scene, the only image without a central text. Those who butcher pigs for a living or cheat others have their body hairs become sharp swords embedded in their skin (upper left); corrupt rulers are have huge, decayed, foul-smelling testicles hanging down the ground “like a yam shoulder bag” (bottom left); those who abuse their parents or corrupt leaders will have disks cutting of their heads drenched with blood (left?); those abusing monks fall into an iron cauldron in the Lohakumbhi Hell (right, below Phra Malai); those who believe in false spirit mediums are reborn as ghosts that are part animal, part human (top.) The crucified image of the Nimi Tale reoccurs at the bottom, with halo/ crown of thorns/flying disk.

32. A very poor man plucks lotuses and presents them to Phra Malai, with the request that he will never be born poor again. His wish is granted, and Phra Malai will later offer the lotuses in heaven at the Culamani Cetiya. This event is the occasion for painting a landscape scene in these manuscripts. Originally a woodcutter who came to bath, in later versions the poor man became to be described as a poor peasant needing to wash of his sweat after a day of work, with whom the listeners to the story could identify themselves.

46. Having received the eight lotuses from the poor peasant, Phra Malai immediately goes to the Tavatimsa heaven to offer them to the eight directions of the Culamani Cetiya, a stupa with the relics of Buddha’s hair. He encounters there many deva Great Beings or Deities, one of whom is displayed at the right side, with red halo and exquisitely dressed. Each of these male devas is accompanied by from hundred to tens and tens of thousands of female angels, the number varying according to their merits. These devas all come to pay homage to the Culamani stupa, which was built by Indra, the King of Gods, in order to give also the Deities an opportunity to continue to gain merit. Indra tells Phra Malai the circumstances of how each of these Great Beings accumulated their number of merits.

69. Finally the Buddha of the Future (Metteyya, in Sanskrit Maitreya) arrives from his Tusita Heaven. After having paid reverence to the cetiya, he explains to Phra Malai what will happen on earth before he will be reincarnated on earth. First the world will see a strong deterioration of the Buddhist dharma, with people’s life spans becoming increasingly short and incestuous promiscuity in every possible combination reigning everywhere. Most people will die. But after seven days, a new harmonious society will appear, and the earth will flourish. The Metteya will then be born in the human realm and attain enlightenment. These two images are of that harmonious society. All humans who have followed the Buddha’s way of life will be reborn. Huge kalpavriksha wish trees will provide those humans who have fed and clothed monks with whatever goods and valuables they wish for. In the left image a family plucks valuables from such a tree with a pole, while at the right people walk in the predicted harmony, free from worries and sickness. Even the level of water will be just right, “so that a crow can drink just by tilting its head… and so clear that you can see the fish.”

85. These last illustrations usually come earlier. At the left Indra (traditionally in green) is seen conversing with Phra Malai, in front of the Culamani cetiya. To the right the Buddha of the Future, Metteyya, arrives, heralded by his retinue.

Shipping, Boating, Sailing

Within the W. Allen Scheuch II, Class of 1976, collection of cartes porcelaine (trade cards made in Belgium between 1840 and 1888) are groups separated by a specific trade or product. The cards are beautifully designed and printed using metallic colored lithographic inks. Each one is finished with a high gloss by applying a coat of white lead and then, passing the card through steel cylinders. Here is a small selection from the group of shipping companies.

Several are designed and printed by the Belgian landscape painter and lithographer Augustus van den Steene (1803-1870).


The Graphic History of Manhattan in Five Medallions

Within the Thomas Paine Park in lower Manhattan rests the historic Foley Square. Renovated and redesigned in the 1990s, architect R.G. Roesch laid five large bronze medallions (each seven feet in diameter) into the ground throughout the park, designed by Rebecca Darr and fabricated by Gregg Lefevre.

Completed in 2000, the five medallions represent:

1. Before 1600: Lenape and Munsee Native Americans with three totem animals, the turtle, wolf, and turkey. According to author Will Grant, the Delaware People called Manhattan: Hay-la-py-ee-chen-quay-hee-lass or The Place Where the Sun is Born.


2. 1712-1794: The African Burial Ground with skeletons for Burial 336 and 354 of a mother and baby, along with the African Free School, Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise,” and Adinkra symbols of Ghana.


3.1700-1800: The Dutch presence and Dutch West India Company, Powder House for the city’s gun powder, gallows built in 1742 during the so called Negro Plot Conspiracy to hang eighteen Blacks and three Whites, and Bridewell city prison for American revolutionaries during British occupation.


4.1800-1900: A shot tower for making lead cannon balls, the site of Collect Pond, which was leveled and filled in, and the dangerous Five Points neighborhood that housed new immigrants.


5. 1900-2000: Construction of the subway or Interborough Rapid Transit, building the Civic Center, unearthing the African Burial Ground, the reconstruction of Foley Square described above, and Lorenzo Pace’s monument.

The African Burial Ground in New York City: Memory, Spirituality, and Space (Firestone Library F128.9.N4 F76 2015)

Rebecca Darr and R.G. Roesch, “Schematic of Medallions” Report of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, October 7, 1996.

Foley Square construction project and the historic African burial ground, New York, NY: hearings before the Subcommittee on Public Buildings and Grounds of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, House of Representatives, One Hundred Second Congress, second session, July 27, 1992 (New York City, NY), September 24, 1992 (Washington, DC). Washington: U.S. G.P.O., 1992. Forrestal Annex – Documents Off-Site Storage Y 4.P 96/11:102-80

New chapbooks

Here is a small taste of the over one hundred volumes that showed up at our door this week, thanks to the generosity of Bruce Willsie, Class of 1986. The collection of early 19th-century chapbooks includes Jewish history, international fiction, education, and much more. It is a beautiful complement to the Sinclair Hamilton Collection of Early American Book Illustrators and Wood Engravers. [scale is centimeters]


A man and his goat: “There was once a poor lame old man that lived in the midst of a wide uncultivated moor, in the north of England. He had formerly been a soldier, and had almost lost the use of one leg by a wound he had received in battle, when he was fighting against the enemies of his country. This poor man when he found himself thus disabled, built a hut of clay, which he covered with turf dug from the common. …In his walks over the common, he one day found a little kid that had lost its mother, and was almost famished with hunger: he took it home to his cottage, fed it with the produce of his garden, and nursed it till it grew strong and vigorous. Little Nan (for that was the name he gave it) returned his cares with gratitude, and became as much attached to him as a dog. All day she browzed upon the herbage that grew around his hut, and at night reposed upon the same bed of straw with her master. Frequently did she divert him with her innocent tricks, and gambols. She would nestle her little head in his bosom, and eat out of his hand part of his scanty allowance of bread, which he never failed to divide with his favourite. The old man often beheld her with silent joy, and, in the innocent feelings of his heart, would lift his hands to heaven, and thank the Deity, that, even in the midst of poverty and distress, had raised him up one faithful friend.”

The story of Naaman, a general in the Syrian army whose leprosy is cured by bathing in the Jordan river under instruction of the prophet Elisha, as told by a young slave girl. Price One Penny.

Back cover.

Of the four trades described is the making of paper for books.

The first picture in the book is not described. What is this?
This is a very pessimistic book, see below:

16th-century woodblocks

For those not on the Platesblocksstones list, see here the information from Ad Stijnman about these beautiful 16th century woodblocks.

“For those [who don’t] yet know, the website of the Biblioteca de Catalunya shows three woodblocks of two Spanish 16th-century blockbooks:

Dr. Stijnman (PhD University of Amsterdam, present affiliation University of Leiden, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London) is an independent scholar for historical printmaking processes, specializing in manual intaglio printmaking techniques. He is also the author of the chapter “Printing Fabric” in Johannes Teyler and Dutch Colour Prints, Ad Stijnman (comp.), Simon Turner (ed.), IV pts (Ouderkerk aan den IJssel: Sound & Vision, in co-operation with The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, 2017), in the series: The New Hollstein Dutch & Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts 1450–1700. Marquand NE674.T49 A4 2017


“The most influential printmaker of the first half of the century.” This is how Michael Brenson described Stanley William Hayter (1901-1988) in the New York Times, May 6, 1988.

Hayter was only 26-years-old when he established the printmaking studio Atelier 17 in Paris, where it flourished until 1940. When the Nazis invaded in September 1939, he was forced to pack what he was able and move the shop to New York City. According to Brenson, when Hayter left France, he left “behind 100 copper plates and a press, which were confiscated by the Vichy Government.”

Both a school and a commercial press, it is hard to think of a major artist of that period who did not pass through Hayter’s workshop at one time or another.

Early in 1939, Hayter conceived of a publication that could be sold to raise money for children left orphan during the war in Spain. He asked the British poet Stephen Spender (1909-1995) for a poem, who sent “The Fall of the City” and then, arranged for Aragon (1897-1982) to translate the poem into French, “Chute d’une cite.”

Next, he convinced eight artists to come to the studio and produce an etching or engraving for the project, in addition to his own contribution. The international group included Joseph Hecht (French, born in Poland, 1891–1951); Dalla Husband (Canadian, 1899–1945); Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944); Roderick Mead (American, 1900–1972); Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983); Dolf Rieser (South African, active in England, 1893–1983); Luis Vargas Rosas (Chilean, 1897-1977); and John Buckland Wright (New Zealander, 1897–1954). I add this here intentionally since many databases, like Princeton’s, have thrown out artists’ nationality as an element for recording and searching.

A reference inquiry led to the pulling and counting of the prints in this portfolio. The etchings and letterpress text were issued unbound in a wrapper with the title Fraternity embedded in one of Hayter’s designs. Since then, many prints have been removed from various copies and sold separately, Kandinsky and Miró in particular, but happily, Princeton’s copy is complete as issued.


Fraternity ([Paris: Atelier 17], 1939). Poem by Stephen Spender, translated by Aragon. Printed at Atelier 17 in an edition of 113 copies. Etchings by John Buckland-Wright, Stanley William Hayter, Josef Hecht, Dalla Husband, Wassily Kandinsky, Roderick Mead, Joan Miro, Dolf Rieser and Luis Vargas. Sylvia Beach Collection 3938.965.336

Woodrow Wilson Saves Erasers and Other Pencil Dramas

In 1761, Kaspar Faber (1730-1784) started a pencil factory in Stein (outside Nuremberg, Germany), which he named “A.W. Faber” after his son Anton Wilhelm Faber (1758-1819).

A subsidiary of this firm, The Eberhard Faber Pencil Company, had its first American office at 133 William Street in Manhattan. In 1858, Eberhard Faber (1822-1879) expanded its operations to include the manufacture of rubber bands and rubber erasers with a factory in Newark, New Jersey.

Three years later, the company opened its first U.S. pencil factory on 42nd Street near the East River. After a fire destroyed the factory in 1872, Faber moved its pencil company to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where it remained until 1956 when it moved to Wilkes-Barre, PA. In 1987, Eberhard Faber Pencil Company was sold to A.W Faber-Castell.– From the “Guide to the Eberhard Faber Pencil Company Collection” ARC.028, Brooklyn Historical Society.

[above] Faber Rubber Company in 1912 where rubber erasers and rubber bands were made.

[below] The building still stands today, although it is not occupied.

In 1858, Hymen Lipman (1817-1893) patented the first pencil / eraser combination and hoping to make a fortune off this invention, Joseph Reckendorfer (1836-1883) bought the patent from Lipman for $100,000, The Faber company fought this patent (they had a similar attachment) and in 1875, the Supreme Court ruled that the eraser-tipped pencil wasn’t unique and didn’t warrant a patent.

This was only the first of many confrontations the Faber boys  had with government agencies.

During World War I, Eberhard Faber fought to separate his American firm from his German relatives, placing advertisements in newspapers and magazines, such as the one above in Walden’s Stationer and Printer 41 (1918). However, sale of the property on Dickerson Street was ordered under a ruling by the Alien Property Act and the American businessman Theodore Friedeburg bought the factory for $145,000.

This is where President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) stepped in and by executive order, demanded that the sale be cancelled because the bid was clearly below market value. Read more about that era:

Then, in 1938, the Federal Trade Commission charged Faber and other rubber eraser manufacturers (and later, thirteen pencil manufacturers) of price fixing. The eraser firms included the American Lead Pencil Company, in Hoboken; Eagle Pencil Company, New York; Joseph Dixon Crucible Company, Jersey City (today a condominium complex), and Weldon Roberts Rubber Company, Newark; along with both A.W. Faber and Eberhard Faber companies.

They all appear to have pleaded no contest.


See also:

Faber-Castell USA.

Habstritt, Mary. “Eberhard Faber’s Pencil Factory,” Archive of Industry.