Author Archives: Julie Mellby

Murder: Victim died of acute boredom in his own library. Body discovered surrounded by the past year’s best sellers.

John Riddell (pseudonym for Corey Ford, 1902-1969), John Riddell Murder Case, a Philo Vance Parody (New York: C. Scribner’s sons, 1930). Caricatures by Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957). Recap 3742.68.351

 **Explanation of the title page: “Meaning No Offense” is the title of Ford’s 1928 book and “Salt Water Taffy” is his next book published in 1929.

Under the pseudonym S. S. Van Dine, Willard Huntington Wright (1888-1939) wrote crime fiction and introduced the popular detective Philo Vance. His novels later became radio dramas and motion pictures starring William Powell, all available today on YouTube.

The character and voice of Philo Vance was so beautifully written and so often repeated in New York society that in 1930, humorist Corey Ford (1902-1969) partnered with the Mexican caricaturist Miguel Covarrubias (1904-1957) to write a parody, along with parodies in the voices of Will Rogers, Sherwood Anderson, and others. They followed this with In the Worst Possible Taste in 1832 (Recap PN6231.P3F47).

Covarrubias moved to New York in 1924 and was given an exhibition at the Whitney Studio Club shortly after he arrived. He charmed his way into New York literary circles with his satirical drawings, first published in The Prince of Wales and Other Famous Americans (1925) (Firestone ND259.C8 A3). Covarrubias went on to draw covers for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker before returning to Mexico in the mid-1930s.


See also: S.S. Van Dine, The Benson murder case (New York: A. L. Burt [c1926]). Recap 3998.46.316. Or watch it here:

The Clyde Mystery (September 27, 1931)
The Wall Street Mystery (November 4, 1931)
The Week End Mystery (December 6, 1931)
The Symphony Murder Mystery (January 10, 1932)
The Studio Murder Mystery (February 7, 1932)
The Skull Murder Mystery (March 1932)
The Cole Case (The Cole Murder Case) (April 3, 1932)
Murder in the Pullman (May 22, 1932)
The Side Show Mystery (June 11, 1932)
The Campus Mystery (July 2, 1932)
The Crane Poison Case (July 9, 1932)
The Trans-Atlantic Murder Mystery (August 31, 1932)

Sorting Out John William Orr and Nathaniel Orr, Part Two

Already an established engraver, Nathaniel Orr (1822-1908) moved to New York City around 1843, to begin working on The Illuminated Bible, embellished with sixteen hundred historical engravings… (Harper & Brothers, 1846. GAX Hamilton 198Q).

He is sometimes listed as Orr Jr. and worked at 75 Nassau Street, in the shop of John William Orr (1815-1887), presumed to be Nathaniel’s uncle.

75 Nassau Street in 2017.


In 1850, Nathaniel Orr took an office of his own around the corner at 151 Fulton Street but within a year, moved to 52 John Street where he stayed until his retirement in 1888. It is a large building and Nathaniel has a reputation for offering his fellow artists rooms to work whenever they were in need.

52 John Street is part of the central building.
Alfred Tallis (active 1860), Tallis’s New York Street Views (New York: Tallis and Company, 1863)


Orr’s business was two doors away from the Methodist Episcopal Church at 44 John Street, first built in 1768, then rebuilt in 1817 and 1841. One of Orr’s early prints (left) is an image of the first Church building, which has recently been painted onto the wall of the memorial park east of the current Church. This Church is famous for including both black and white members equally in their congregation:

“At the birth of Methodism in this country its handful of votaries were so simple and honest, and so free from any thought of race distinctions in the divine presence, that no special notice was taken of the fact that there were colored people present to their disparagement. When Captain Webb and his associates met in a sail loft in 1765, on what was then known as the Battery, at the south end of New York city, they thought not of the complexion of the attendants, but rather of the salvation of their souls. And four years later, when John Street Church was built to accommodate the congregation of that first formed Methodist Church in America, there were no Negro pews nor back seats nor gallery especially provided for the dark-skinned members. They were welcomed in common with other members to all the privileges of God’s house and worship.” –One Hundred Years of The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Chapter I, Early Race Distinctions.

Painted mural in the memorial park, 48 John Street, next to the Methodist Episcopal Church

Nathaniel Orr was involved in many anti-slavery publications. In January 1853, he accepted a commission to engrave Frederick M. Coffin’s illustrations for Twelve Years a Slave: Narrative of Solomon Northup. The project was finished in less than six months, published August 1853.

Later that year, Coffin and Orr partnered with John McLenan (1827-1865) to illustrate the sensationalist bestseller Hot Corn: Life Scenes in New York Illustrated by Solon Robinson (1854). So great is Nathaniel’s popularity by now, that of the three artists only Orr, the wood engraver, is mentioned on the title page.


For some of Nathaniel Orr’s earliest work, see:
John Gadsby Chapman (1808-1889), Bible illustrations ([New York? 1846?]). Manuscript note on title page of vol. 1: “These proofs, from the original cuts, were taken by hand by the Engravers thereof, in course of execution for Harpers Family Bible-New York 1843.-44. 45- and are, so far as I know, the only complete set existing. Presented by me to my Daughter. Rome October 5. 1879. John G. Chapman.” The engravers whose works are mentioned are Roberts, Childs, Minot, Howland, Gordon, Butler, Morse, Nathaniel Orr, Hall, Hart, Henry Kinnersley, Augustus F. Kinnersley, Pekham, Bookhout, Holland, Weeks and Adams. (GAX) Oversize Hamilton 199q

Gillett G. Griffin Memorial Lecture

The Gillett G. Griffin Memorial Lecture Series is being established in honor of our former colleague Gillett Good Griffin (1942-2016), who served as graphic arts curator within Rare Books and Special Collections from 1952 to 1966. Although officially the collection’s second curator, he was the first to establish a place for the graphic arts collection inside Firestone Library, along with galleries and study rooms where students were regularly and warmly welcomed. Gillett’s passion for collecting began almost 70 years ago while he was a student at Yale University School of Art. His personal collection of Japanese prints, for instance, was begun as an undergraduate and later, when Gillett generously donated them to Princeton University Library, formed the basis for the department’s collection.

When we received the sad news of Gillett’s passing in June 2016, we wanted to find a way to not only commemorate the man but also his passion for bringing objects in the collection directly to the public and the public to the collection. To that end, we decided to select one of the great treasures acquired by Gillett for an in-depth investigation presented in a public memorial lecture.

In 2017, the inaugural lecture will be delivered by Dr. Sara Stevenson, former chief curator at the National Galleries of Scotland. For 36 years, Dr. Stevenson was responsible for building and developing the Scottish National Photography Collection and she continues to publish, her most recent publication entitled: Scottish Photography: The First Thirty Years. Her lecture, “The London Circle: Early Explorations of Photography,” will highlight the Richard Willats album of early paper photography purchased for the graphic arts collection by Gillett.

The lecture will be held on Sunday, April 2, 2017, at 3:00 in the Friends Center followed by a reception. The event is free and open to the public.


Spirit Photography on Trial


La revue spirite, the leading journal of 19th-century French spiritualism, was founded in 1858 by Allan Kardec (pseudonym of Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail 1804-1869) and after his death, Pierre-Gaetan Leymarie (1817-1901) took over as editor. Leymarie was not only a fake medium but also active in the bogus practice of spirit photography, using the respected journal to advertise and promote it.

Leymarie formed a partnership with the photographer Édouard Isidore Buguet (1840-1901) along with an American medium Alfred-Henri Firman. They sold their manipulated prints through La revue spirite, where Leymarie printed glowing reviews. This lasted for several years until the French police caught on to their scheme.


In April 1875, an undercover officer went to Buguet’s studio on the pretense of having his photograph taken. During the session, props and other tricks were discovered and Buguet was arrested. Leymarie and Firman were also charged with fraud.

A sensational trial followed, in which many respected men and women testified on the men’s behalf. Eventually, Buguet confessed and was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 500 francs but escaped before he served any time. Leymarie was sentenced to one year and Firman six months, after which both returned to successful careers in the spiritualism business. La revue spirite continues to be published.

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a rare first edition of Proces des Spirites, Edite par Madame P.G. Laymarie, which is the account of the 1875 trial, complete with the passionate testimony of the Parisian elite compiled by Leymarie’s wife Marina. La photographie spirite et l’analyse spectrale comparées (1875) has also been acquired, offering a contemporary account by L. Legas, the president of the Belgian spiritualist group La Vérité.


Various photographs by Buguet found on google image.

Procès des spirites. Edité par Mme P.G. Leymarie (Paris: Librarie Spirite, 1875). Graphic Arts Collection 2017-in process

L. Legas, La photographie spirite et l’analyse spectrale compares (Paris; Legas, 1875). Graphic Arts Collection 2017-in process

See also: Henri Sausse, Biographie d’Allan Kardec (Paris: Pygmalion, 1993). (F) BF1283.K228 S287 1993

Hogarth’s Prison Scene

Our copy of William Hogarth’s “Prison Scene,” plate seven from “A Rake’s Progress,” is going to New York City to join the exhibition, “Taming Traders: Origins of the New York Stock Exchange,” at the New-York Historical Society from March 31 to June 11, 2017.



Mounted on the 225th anniversary of the New York Stock Exchange, the exhibition charts the development of this crucial trading institution. Objects on display include early bond and stock certificates, correspondence, portraits of traders, and views of Wall Street and the Tontine Coffee House. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Michael Ryan, New-York Historical vice president and director of the Patricia D. Klingenstein Library.

Their website tells the story:

On May 17, 1792―under a buttonwood tree, the site of street trading at the time―24 stock brokers signed an agreement that regulated aspects of trading, thus creating the New York Stock Exchange. Before then, in the early days of the new republic when the United States was deeply in debt, it was Alexander Hamilton’s job as the first Secretary of the Treasury to persuade his colleagues in the first Congress that debt could be a beneficial commodity that could be sold and traded. But rampant speculation in war debt and bank stock turned to financial panic and provided the cautionary backdrop for the drafting of the Buttonwood Agreement in May 1792, which would change global commerce forever.

William Hogarth (1697–1764) engraved the eight plates of “A Rake’s Progress” in 1735 and we had the entire set on view back in 2011 in our own exhibition Sin and the City: William Hogarth’s London:

Walt Whitman and “Life Illustrated”

“Christmas at ‘Grace,” Life Illustrated NS Vol. 1, no. 13 (January 26, 1856). Folio. Graphic Arts Collection 2017 in process. Walt Whitman’s unsigned contribution is a critical review of the Christmas service at Grace Episcopal Church, occupying nearly two of the four columns on the front page.


Jason Stacy writes, “The phrenologists Orson Squire Fowler (1809–1887), Lorenzo Niles Fowler (1811–1896), and Samuel R. Wells (1820–1875) published Life Illustrated: A Journal of Entertainment, Improvement, and Progress between 1854 and 1861, after which the newspaper merged with the American Phrenological Journal.

Life Illustrated was one of the earliest periodicals to review Whitman’s first edition of Leaves of Grass (1855), and the review described the poet as “a perfect loafer; yet a thoughtful loafer, an amiable loafer, an able loafer.” The journal also printed Emerson’s famous letter to Whitman that began “I greet you at the beginning of a great career . . .” in October 1856, and Whitman published this letter in the second edition of Leaves of Grass (1856).”

Between November 1855 and August 1856, Whitman published a number of items in Life Illustrated on topics ranging from the opera to working-class housing to the English language as the nation’s “mightiest inheritance.” The Graphic Arts collection recently acquired a number of issues of the newspaper with his contributions.

Here are a few:

“The Circus,” Life Illustrated NS Vol. 2, no. 18 (August 30, 1856). Folio. Graphic Arts Collection 2017 in process. Walt Whitman’s contribution, unsigned, describes his experiences at a performance of Dan Rice’s circus and occupies one and a half of the four columns on the editorial page.



“Voltaire,” Life Illustrated NS Vol. 2, no. 2 (May 10, 1856). Folio. Graphic Arts Collection 2017 in process. Walt Whitman’s attributed contribution is an appreciation of the radical Voltaire, occupying nearly two columns on the front page.



“The Opera,” Life Illustrated NS Vol. 1, no 2 (November 10, 1855). Folio. Graphic Arts Collection 2017 in process. Walt Whitman’s first contribution, unsigned, occupies three of the four columns on the front page.




“Democracy,” designed and executed by one who has neither place nor pension.

Attributed to William Charles (1776-1820), Democracy against the Unnatural Union. Trial Octr. 14t 1817. Designed and executed by one who has neither place nor pension, 1817. Etching. Graphic Arts collection GAX 2017- in process

Two hundred years ago, candidate William Findlay (1768-1846) and Joseph Hiester (1752-1832) ran against each other for the Democratic-Republican (later called Jacksonian) nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania. Findlay won the nomination and the Governorship in 1817 but Hiester won when they ran again in 1820.

This satirical print is on Findlay’s side, who floats up to the governor’s chair while commenting “How easy do I [ascend].” Hiester stands on a shaky foundation at the right, labeled “federalism” and “old schoolism.” Below are bundles of the U.S. Gazette and Aurora newspapers. The paper Hiester has in his hand says “Serious Reflections.” One member of the crowd says, “I am thinking to myself how foolish we shall look if we do not Succeed.”

Scottish-born William Charles did have a place. He set up a printshop on South 3rd Street in Philadelphia. This is a view by William Birch around 1800 across the street:

The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. (1800). South East corner of Third, and Market Streets. Philadelphia. Retrieved from

Seconda parte delle logge di Rafaele nel Vaticano

Detail of plate one, God Dividing Light from Darkness


A single plate engraved by Giovanni Ottaviani after Raphael was recently found among the unidentified prints in our collection. This led to the discovery of a complete set of all 13 painted engravings for the “Seconda Parte” of the celebrated Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano. The spectacular volume has now been acquired for Princeton University Library in honor of Marvin Bielawski, Deputy University Librarian, Princeton University Library, thanks to the joint efforts of the Friends of the Princeton University Library and the Graphic Arts Collection.

Plate one, God Dividing Light from Darkness

Seconda parte delle Logge di Rafaele nel Vaticano. Volume two of Loggie di Rafaele nel Vaticano. Engraved by Giovanni Ottaviani (1735–ca. 1808) and Giovanni Volpato (1732–1803); after designs by Gaetano Savorelli (died 1791), Ludovicus Teseo Taurinensis (active 18th century) and Pietro Camporesi (1726–1781); after frescoes by Raphael (1483-1520). Publisher unknown, 1776. Title page and 13 engraving with hand painted gouache color. Purchased by the Friends of the Princeton University Library and the Graphic Arts Collection in honor of Marvin Bielawski. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2017- in process.

This volume of 18th-century painted engravings reproduces the 16th-century frescoes by Raphael (Rafaello Sanzio d’ Urbino) along the Loggia of the Vatican in Rome. Sometimes called Raphael’s Bible, the Loggia’s 13 arcades are decorated with 52 frescoes: 48 subjects from the Old Testament and 4 depicting the life of Christ. The original sketches were made by Raphael, the cartoons prepared by Giulio Romano, and the painting done by multiple artists between 1516-1519.

Only one of the 4 scenes from each arcade are reproduced in brilliant gouache color for the Seconda parte. All 52 scenes can be seen in black and white in Picturae peristylI Vaticani, manus Raphaelis SancI, in tabulis aereis nova cura expressae, chartisque reddita anno MDCCLXXXX ([Rome: Caleografia Camerale, 1790]). Rare Books (Ex) Oversize 2009-0001E

Professional photography will soon be completed of this beautiful volume but for now, here are some images of our new acquisition.

Plate two, Adam and Eve at Work out of Paradise.


Plate three, Building of the Ark.


Detail of plate four, Three Angels Appearing to Abraham.


Plate five, God Appearing to Isaac.


Detail from plate six, Jacob’s Ladder.


Detail from plate six, Jacob’s Ladder.


Detail from plate seven, Joseph Telling his Dream.


Detail from plate eight, The Finding of Moses.


Detail from plate nine, Moses Showing the Tables of the Law.


Plate nine, Moses Showing the Tables of the Law.


Plate ten, The Fall of Jericho.

Detail from plate ten, The Fall of Jericho.


Detail from plate eleven, David’s Triumph over the Syrians.


Plate twelve, The Judgment of Solomon.


Every copy of this volume should be considered unique.  Many were painted at a later date, or done with a different hand. See for example this detail from plate twelve of the copy owned by the New York Public Library.


Detail from plate thirteen, The Last Supper.

Title page of volume two, Logge di Rafaele nel Vaticano.


Below is the title page from volume one, not held at Princeton University Library

The Trickster Suite

Trickster Suite (Albuquerque, NM: Tamarind Institute, 1999). 16 lithographs designed and printed with master lithographers Bill Lagattuta, Alexa Burns, and Chris Armijo. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process

In 1999, the Tamarind Institute, a division of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico, hosted a cultural exchange between four artists from the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa and four artists from the pueblos of New Mexico. These eight artists explored the folklore of the roguish trickster, referencing a transformation process through the candor of the storytelling tradition.

The eight artists are Thamae Setshogo, Xqaiqa Qomatcaa, Cg’ose Ntcoxo (Cgoise), Coex’ae (Dada) Qgam, Nora Naranjo-Morse, Felice Lucero, Diane Reyna, and Mateo Romero.

According to the prospectus, “During the first three days of the two-week project, the participants travelled to northern New Mexico sites for public storytelling sessions, then spent the remaining ten days at Tamarind, each making two lithographs in collaboration with the institute’s master printers.

The sixteen finished lithographs represent a colorful and varied interpretation of the idea of the trickster. While not all of the images relate directly to a specific story, they do refer to a transformation process or the storytelling tradition and its directness of communication.”

The Tamarind Institute is a nonprofit center for fine art lithography that trains master printers and houses a professional collaborative studio for artists. Founded in 1960 in Los Angeles, Tamarind is recognized internationally for its contributions to the growth of contemporary printmaking around the world and continues to provide professional training and creative opportunities for artists.For more information, see:

Callot’s Vie de la mere de Dieu

Jacques Callot (1592-1635) and François Rennel, Vie de la Mère de Diev representée par emblesmes = Vita Beatae Mariae Vir. Matris Dei emblematib[us] = [The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, represented in emblems]… ([Nancy: Antoine Charlot, 1628]). [4], 26 leaves of etched emblems.  Bound in a late nineteenth-century red morocco gilt, gilt edges, by Riviere. Provenance: Sir Henry Hope Edwardes, 10th Baronet (1829–1900), with his bookplate. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process


On each plate, below the Latin are four lines of French verse, as in the quatrain accompanying the figure of the salamander (symbol of the French king Francis I, representing the man who had been through fire and lived) in the opening emblem:

“Chaldaeo praevalet una Deo” (Chaldeans prevail with God):

Je vis sans me bruler au milieu de la flame:
Et la Vierge au milieu du crime original,
Par l’absolu pouvoir de l’Arbitre eternal,
Dans le brasier commun n’a point bruslé son Ame.
[note the last two lines are reversed in the second edition]

The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have acquired a rare first edition of this beautiful emblem book, one of two illustrated by Callot (the other being Lux claustri). The etchings are here in the unnumbered state. Paulette Choné convincingly established the place of printing, printer and date of the work, and also identified François Rennel as the author of the text (the initials ‘F. R.’ appear at the end of the preface; see P. Choné, Emblèmes et pensée symbolique en Lorraine (1525–1633), Paris, 1991, p. 725 ff.).


It was Callot’s close friend François Rennel (1583-1649), councillor at the Chambre des Comptes de Lorraine, who conceived the artist’s two emblem books. Both men were influential members of a Jesuit congregation in Nancy.

“The first works by [Maximilian van der Sandt] Sandaeus must have made a vivid impact; his inspiration, his sophisticated poetry and metaphorical vocabulary show a close affinity to the extreme delicacy of the Vie de la mere de Dieu and Lux claustri.” — P.Choné

“The publishing history of the Vita Beatae Mariae virginis. Vie de la bien-heureuse vierge Marie is complex. Whereas only one edition of the Lux claustra was published—Paris by François Langlois in 1646—three undated editions of the Vita beatae Mariae virginis… Vie de la bien-heureuse vierge marie were published in addition to that produced by Langlois in 1646 as a partner edition to the Lux claustra, and in all of these the text is different.”

“A further variant version of the work, (including the engravings but no text) exists in the Getty Museum. In the 1646 edition … each emblematic engraving is accompanied by a Latin motto, together with a Latin distich and a French quatrain. In one of the undated editions the mottoes are in French rather than in Latin, and there is a Latin distich, but no French quatrain, while the other two follow the pattern of the Lux claustra, and include both Latin and French mottoes, together with a Latin distich and a French quatrain. While the Latin mottoes remain the same in all editions that include them, the French mottoes in the undated Benoît Audran edition, in which they appear alone, are different from those which appear together with Latin mottoes in the other two undated editions.”—Alison Saunders, The Seventeenth-century French Emblem: A Study in Diversity (2000)