Author Archives: Julie Mellby

Teaching with images

When teaching with images, don’t forget the obvious. Wikimedia Commons is a collection of 61,896,277 images in the public domain as well as freely-licensed educational media content (images, sound and video clips) available to everyone (including many from our Graphic Arts Collection).

Now 16 years old, the resource is not perfect but free and sometime spectacular, such as this digital reproduction of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights from the Prado in Madrid. The painting is next to impossible to see in person, (when travel is available) given the crowds. Here you can zoom in on any corner of the panels, producing extraordinary views. Click on each thumbnail to enlarge it.

The three panels might represent Adam and Eve on the left, a bacchanal of pleasures in the middle, and hell on the right. Commissioned by Engelbert II of Nassau, it was meant to be seen by a very few and only recently moved to a public museum. Note the prevalence of strawberries. The oak panels are not signed but attributed to Bosch.

Each wikimedia page also provides the object’s current location, Bosch is in room 56, the object history and bibliography. In this case, there are multiple files to download from various sources. Here are a few close-ups.


This man is being talked into signing a document, perhaps a papal indulgence, by the pig with a nun’s habit. One year after Bosch’s death, Martin Luther would protest against the sale of papal indulgences.

 

 

 

A brief introduction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zD_nwg9CMzw

Black Lives Matter

This week it’s hard to concentrate with the continuing inequities in the United States so blatantly exposed. While it is necessary for everyone to do better, here are just a few recent acquisitions that might help to highlight interesting and important Black lives, for upcoming classes.

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Here is a small selection from a group of approximately 120 press and wire photographs dating from the early 1960s through 1980, recently acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection with the help of Steven Knowlton, Librarian for History and African American Studies. These heavily used prints all relate to the Civil Rights movement in the United States, documenting protests, marches, sit-ins, and police confrontations in Atlanta, Alabama, Chicago, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Washington, D.C.

[left] “Selma, Ala., Mar. 12 — The ‘Wall’ is down — Jubilant demonstrators held aloft a rope barricade after it was cut down in Selma, Ala. today [by] public safety director Wilson Baker. The demonstrators had sung [unclear] referring to the barricade as the Berlin wall and Baker unexpectedly walked over and severed it. He said “nothing has changed” and still refused to allow the non-stop demonstrators to march. …1965.” Read more about 1965 events in Selma: https://www.cnn.com/2013/09/15/us/1965-selma-to-montgomery-march-fast-facts/index.html

Read more about this photo-archive: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2018/02/23/the-civil-rights-movement-in-america/

 

 

jones set designs3

This beautiful design by Robert Edmond Jones (1887-1954), is for the production of Simon the Cyrenian, one of three short plays that opened April 5, 1917 at New York’s Garden Theater under the heading Three Plays for a Negro Theater. Jones not only designed but directed the three productions, which each featured all Black casts. As one of the first straight plays to feature Black actors exclusively, without melodrama or burlesque, this production is often cited as the beginning of the period we call the Harlem renaissance.

W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963) transcribed the outpouring of critical review in The Crisis, beginning with poet Percy MacKaye’s comment, “It is indeed an historic happening. Probably for the first time, in any comparable degree, both races are here brought together upon a plane utterly devoid of all racial antagonisms—a plane of art in which audiences and actors are happily peers, mutually cordial to each others’ gifts of appreciation and interpretation.” Read more; https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2014/03/12/robert-edmond-jones-directs-an-all-black-cast/

 

 


During his years as an undergraduate at the Hampton Institute, Willis J. Hubert (1919-2007) kept a scrapbook, filling it with programs, report cards, newspaper articles, and many informal photographs of his classmates. This enormous volume bound in carved wood boards, 30 x 46 x 7 cm, provides an intimate look at undergraduate life at this primarily black school from 1936 to 1940.

According to his obituary, published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from May 15 to May 17, 2007, Hubert went on to have a distinguished military career in which he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Not long after he graduated from the Hampton Institute, he entered the U.S. Air Force and trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field, where Hubert was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen.

Hubert became the first African American to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. (New York University) while on active duty, as well as the first to complete the Harvard Business School (Military Co-op) Statistics Training Program. Read more: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2018/05/04/undergraduate-life-at-the-hampton-institute/

 

 

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a set of photographic postcards documenting the “Burning of the Negro Smith.” Two are captioned in white ink. None of them were ever addressed or mailed. The postcards came in a plain envelope marked with the caption in pencil: “Greenville, TX, 28 July 1908”.

“Ted Smith, aged 18 years old, was accused of raping a young white woman in Clinton, Texas. He was arrested and brought to jail in nearby Greenville. A mob took him from his cell at eight the next morning. Rather than the usual hanging, they covered him under a pile of wood, doused him with kerosene, and burned him alive in the center of town, in front of a large crowd. The postcards depict the horrible scene, with the crowd gathered around the fire. Read more: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2018/05/03/the-murder-of-ted-smith-in-1908/

 

 

The Graphic Arts Collection acquired a rare promotional brochure for the Norman Film Company’s 1919 silent movie, The Green Eyed Monster, its first production with an all Black cast. Billed as a “Stupendous All-Star Negro Motion Picture,” audiences found it long and so, Norman had the film cut from eight-reels to five-reels. A second release in 1920 led to great success. Although no portion of the film survives, reviews list the actors as Jack Austin, Louise Dunbar, Steve Reynolds, and Robert A. Stuart.

“The first film company devoted to the production of race movies was the Chicago-based Ebony Film Company, which began operation in 1915. The first black-owned film company was The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, founded by the famous Missourian actor Noble Johnson in 1916. However, the biggest name in race movies was and remains Oscar Micheaux, an Illinois-born director who started The Micheaux Book & Film Company in 1919 and went on to direct at least forty films with predominantly black casts for black audiences.”–The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 18 (2011).

Read more: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2018/01/24/brochure-for-all-colored-cast-silent-film/

 

 

avery haitian boat3

Eric Avery, USA Dishonor and Disrespect (Haitian Interdiction 1981-1994), 1991. Linoleum block print on a seven-color lithograph printed on mold made Okawara paper. 46½ x 34 inches. Edition: 30. Graphic Arts Collection 2014- in process.

Dr. Eric Avery incorporates his medical practice with his activist art, delving into such themes as infectious diseases, human rights abuse, and the death penalty, among others. Many of his complex prints appropriate one or more iconic art historical images into contemporary events. A few examples are now at Princeton University.

On July 14, 1990, The New York Times reported, “Bahamas Facing More Questions As It Buries 39 Drowned Haitians.” The story continued “Thirty-nine Haitians fleeing their impoverished Caribbean island drowned when their sailboat capsized and sank in choppy seas while being towed by Bahamian authorities, Government officials said. No explanation for what caused the sinking was given.” Published by the Tamarind Institute, Avery’s complex linocut incorporates the facts of the 1990 tragedy with three separate art historical paintings: Theodore Gericault’s The Raft of the Medusa, 1824; John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark, 1778; and Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1633.

Read more: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2014/10/01/eric-avery/

Elsa Dorfman

Jorge Luis Borges at the Midget Restaurant, 1970s. (c) Elsa Dorfman

The early portrait photography of Elsa Dorfman (1937-2020) is beautifully represented in the Graphic Arts Collection, thanks to a generous gift from the artist’s husband Harvey Silverglate, Princeton Class of 1964. An extended profile of the photographer can be read here: https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2017/09/elsa-dorfmans-portrait-photography

Her work was featured in the 2010 Princeton University Library exhibition The Author’s Portrait, one of the few living artists included because, well, we couldn’t not include her terrific work. Each of the prints in our collection includes a hand-written caption made by Dorfman with a steel-nib pen dipped in black India ink. She once wrote to us correcting a reproduction of her work that did not include the text, noting it was an integral part of the final work. These photographs come from the early 1970s, when Dorfman was selling gelatin silver prints for $2.50 each from a grocery cart in Harvard Square.

The portraits included in our collection are Audre Lord[e] at Riverside Park; Charles Olson at Kelleher’s; Jorge Luis Borges at the Midget Restaurant; Nikki Giovanni at home; Robert Creeley and Spot at Good Harbor Beach; Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky; Anais Nin at home; Robert Lowell at Arthur Freeman’s apt. Cambridge, Mass.; W. H. Auden at home; and W. S. Merwin at home. Also in the collection is the pivotal Elsa’s Housebook: a Woman’s Photojournal (Boston: D. R. Godine, c1974). Graphic Arts Collection 2006-2545N, which can be read online through temporary access by Hathi Trust.

Elsa Dorfman passed away on May 30, 2020. An obituary by Mark Feeney appeared in the Boston Globe almost immediately that begins

“Elsa Dorfman, whose large-format Polaroid color portraits made her famous in the world of photography, and whose ebullient personality made her famous in the world of Cambridge, died Saturday at her Cambridge home. … Three parts earth mother to two parts riot grrrl (or perhaps the other way around), Ms. Dorfman cut a memorable figure. Her beaming moon face, set off by glasses and center-parted hair, was almost as distinctive as her don’t-try-this-at-home fashion sense. Jumpers and running shoes? Of course. Polka dots and stripes? On occasion.”

Her work was introduced to an international audience by Errol Morris’s documentary about her, “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography.” Here is the trailer:

 

 

When Dorfman moved back to Cambridge in 1959, after an early stay in New York City, she started organizing readings by writers and poets, calling her company the “Paterson Society” after William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg’s home. This led to introductions and friendships, which in turn led to the many portraits of authors, poets, and literary figures. This early video shows the set up for our photograph of Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky;

 

Her large format Polaroid camera, one of only six in existence, weighed close to 240 pounds, producing photographic print nearly 2 feet square. This clip shows the camera in action:

 

 

Ms. Dorfman, photographed at her Cambridge home on Feb. 4, 2020. Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff

Chauncey Bradley Ives’ Noah Webster

After Chauncey Bradley Ives (1810–1894), Bust of Noah Webster, ca.1840. Plaster cast. (ex) 4766. Gift of Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey.

During the 21st-century renovation of Firestone Library, a cast plaster bust of Noah Webster (1758-1843) was relocated from the library tower to the newly constructed special collection vaults. It came with a possible attribution to the 19th-century sculptor John Henri Isaac Browere (1792-1834).

We can now confidently re-attribute the bust to Chauncey Bradley Ives (1810-1894), an American sculptor who worked primarily in the Neo-classic style. Today he is remembered for his portraits of celebrated Americans, both full-length statues and busts, including Noah Webster completed in 1840. Our bust was donated to Princeton by (or in honor of) Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey (died 1961). Mr. and Mrs. Bailey also donated a bronze cast of Ives’ Webster bust to Yale University in 1964, where the University also owns a painted cast plaster version of the bust.


In 1964, a New York Times reporter attended an outdoor auction of the household possessions and furnishings of the late Mrs. Theodore L. Bailey (died 1961). The sale included pieces belonging to Noah Webster, of whom Mrs. Bailey was a direct descendant.–“Picnicking’s Half the Fun at Auction,” New York Times November 14, 1964. This may explain their interest in having Webster’s likeness at the universities.  Mr. Theodore Bailey, Jr. was a member of the Princeton Class of 1926 and he also presented a bronze bust of Webster to the Mead Art Museum, Amherst College.

Noah Webster, Jr. (1758-1843), a graduate of Yale, wrote the first American dictionary, entitled A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language (1806) and followed it with An American Dictionary of the English Language (1828). Before the age thirty, Webster had already published a three volume study: A Grammatical Institute of the English Language, including a speller (1783), a grammar (1784), and a reader (1785). See more: https://www.merriam-webster.com/about-us/americas-first-dictionary

The former attribution was not a bad guess. In 1825, John Henri Isaac Browere (1792-1834) began using plaster life masks to create full three-dimensional busts of noted Americans, such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, De Witt Clinton, and Dolley Madison. It was his hope to establish a National Gallery of Notable Americans, but critics were divided on the merits of his technique, dubbing him a mechanic and calling his New York studio a “plaster factory.”

At his death, Browere’s collection of plasters was hidden from view until 1897, when McClure’s reporter Charles Henry Hart tracked them down and published “Unknown Life Masks of Great Americans…The Story of Their Production, Concealment from the Public, and Recent Recovery,” —McClure’s Magazine 9 1897. The Chicago Daily Tribune followed this with a front page article “Long Hidden Life Masks of Famous Americans” and the plaster busts were exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair. Later, most of the collection was donated to the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York (formerly the New York State Historical Association). Browere’s work in plaster was not unlike the bust of Webster.

See: Life Masks of Noted Americans of 1825 by John H. I. Browere (Cooperstown, N.Y., The New York State Historical Association [1951?]). Firestone Library NB1293.N49

Visiting Laurence Hutton and others

Drama critic, journalist, and collector Laurence Hutton received an honorary Master of Art degree from Princeton University in 1897, where he returned to lecture in English from 1901 until his death in 1904. He is buried in the Princeton cemetery.

Hutton left his collection of manuscripts, rare books, and life/death masks to the Princeton University Library, including two books that describe his obsession with death masks: Talks in a library with Laurence Hutton, recorded by Isabel Moore (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905) and Portraits in plaster: from the collection of Laurence Hutton (New York : Harper & Brothers, 1894). Images of the mask can be found at https://library.princeton.edu/libraries/firestone/rbsc/aids/C0770/

Here are a few of the other notable gravestones at the Princeton cemetery. An online brochure has more information: https://nassauchurch.org/about/princetoncemetery/brochure-and-map/

Both john Aaron Burr, Jr. (1756-1836), a colonel in the Army of the Revolution and vice president of the United States from 1801 to 1805; and his father Aaron Burr, Sr. (1716-1757), the second President of Princeton University (1748-1757) are buried in the Princeton cemetery. Burr Sr.’s grave is the oldest grave in the cemetery.

 

 

A large plot in the Princeton cemetery holds the graves of Richard Stockton Jr. (1764-1828), a lawyer and son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was a Federalist statesman who served his native New Jersey nationally, first in the Senate (1796-1799) and then in the House of Representatives (1813-1815). Nearby is Robert Field Stockton (1795-1866), son of Richard Stockton, Jr., who was a United States Senator (Democratic) from New Jersey (1851-1853). He was also president of the Delaware & Raritan Canal. Here is the grave of granddaughter Saidee.

Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), whose father was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, founded Shakespeare & Company, a Paris bookshop which became a focus for struggling expatriate writers. In 1922 she published James Joyce’s Ulysses when others considered it obscene. At her death, a large collection of manuscripts, books, and other material came to Princeton University Library. https://library.princeton.edu/special-collections/collections/sylvia-beach-papers

 

Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) was a New Jersey native and lawyer. He was the Mayor of Buffalo, Governor of New York, and elected President of the United States twice from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897. He remains the only President of the United States to win the popular vote in three consecutive elections and serve two non-consecutive terms. His birthday (March 18) is celebrated annually at the Princeton Cemetery with a short eulogy and wreath-laying ceremony.

“Cleveland’s introduction to Princeton came during his second presidency when he spoke at the University’s 1896 sesquicentennial celebration. So enamored with Princeton were the Clevelands that in 1897 Grover and wife Frances Folsom purchased a mansion on Hodge Road, dubbing the estate “Westland.” As a resident of Princeton the ex-president became deeply involved in University affairs and was a staple on campus, lecturing once or twice a year and taking part in annual Commencement ceremonies. He was elected a trustee in 1901 and until his death seven years later was one of the Board’s most visible members, contributing vocally to the tumultuous debate on the graduate school and acting as chairman of the trustees committee on that topic (Cleveland sided with Dean Andrew Fleming West’s plan)”.–https://findingaids.princeton.edu/collections/AC348#description.

 

 

 

Clark Fisher (1835-1903), founded the Eagle Steel Works (later named Fisher & Norris Anvil Works) in Trenton, New Jersey. His wife Harriet White Fisher Andrew (1861-1939) was known for being the first woman to circle the globe in a automobile. After her husband’s death, she took over the management of Eagle Steel Works and was the only woman member of the National Association of Manufacturers.

 

Families at home together


In 1784, Thomas Rowlandson exhibited two watercolors at the Royal Academy, contrasting an Italian family with a French family, each dancing and playing music together in in their homes. Although the Italian family is poorly dressed, living in a bleak home lit only by one open window, they sing an operatic tune with great power and enjoyment. The harpsichord player doesn’t even have a table and chair but plays sitting on the floor. A mother sings while caring for the baby.

In an equally tattered room, the French family has pushed a bed against the wall to make room for dancing. Various pieces of elegant dress are worn over bare legs and torn sleeves. Even the dogs have been dressed up, while the hungry cat climbs into the cupboard looking for food,

Samuel Alken printed and hand colored reproductions of the two scenes, which were sold at his Soho shop as well as William Hinton’s printshop at Sweeting Alley in Cornhill. They must have been popular because in 1792, Samuel Fores had a second edition of the French Family published and sold from his shop, this time printed without aquatint.

 



[above] Samuel Alken (1756-1815), after a design by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), An Italian family, 1785. Hand colored etching with aquatint. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2014.00798. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.
[below] Samuel Alken (1756-1815), after a design by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), A French family, 1786. Hand colored etching with aquatint. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2014.00793. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Class of 1895.

Samuel Alken (1756-1815), after a design by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), A French family, 1792. Hand colored etching. British Museum.

Unfolding Digital Images

Folding plates are trouble in an all-digital world. The brief joy of finding a title through temporary access to Hathi Trust can be tempered when you get blank pages staring back at you instead of unfolded plates.

 

Princeton University’s library catalog offers 18 digital versions and/or editions of: A journey to Jerusalem, or, A relation of the travels of fourteen English-men in the year 1669 : from Scanderoon, to Tripoly, Joppa, Ramah, Jerusalem, Bethlem, Jericho, the River Jordan, the Dead Sea, and back again to Aleppo … London : Printed by T.M. for N. Crouch …, 1672, with its wonderful series of fold-out plates.Unfortunately, I was not able to find one copy that offered the plates unfolded, looking in google books, hathi trust, or several other platforms. While it is possible to access the engravings from museums that have removed them from the books, then you have the image without the text.

 

A class favorite is William Hogarth’s Analysis of Beauty with two plates, usually front and back, folded multiple times to fit with the rest of the pages. Again, many museums have removed the plates and provide excellent digital access without the text but most online books either do not have the plates at all, or like ECCO, demand you look at the book at 10% of the original size, to see the entire print.The exception in this case is at Hathi Trust where you see the folded package and then, the opened image. Download this quickly before your one hour window is up.

 

There are a number of 19th-century journals that begin with a folded frontispiece, fun to teach with when you have the physical object. Finding a frontispiece in the all-digital world can itself be too daunting for most people. I had to look through a dozen or so issues before I found a few frontispieces in ProQuest., list under a title and interspersed with the articles/chapters.

The complete title of George Cruikshank’s satirical print seen above is Princely piety, or the worshippers at Wanstead. Here is the complete hand colored print in the British Museum:

One other option is offer, below, but is no better than the first.

 

So as not to only complain, here is a success story:

One example of beautifully handled folding plates comes from Princeton’s digital imaging studio, managed by Roel Munoz, whose staff captured this French costume book for the Graphic Arts Collection with great success: http://pudl.princeton.edu/boundart.php?obj=v118rf94k

Need a Project, no. 12? Ice Cream and Anarchists

From the George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

Political activist Emma Goldman (1869-1940) came to the United States in 1885 and was swept up in the anarchist movement that led to the attempted killing of Henry Clay Frick and the assassination of President William McKinley. In between, to pay the rent, she twice operated an ice cream parlor. The first was successful but given up to make the attempt on Frick’s life. The second was a failure and forgotten.

Together with her partner at the time, Alexander Berkman (1870-1936), she opened her first ice cream parlor in 1892 in Worcester, Massachusetts. The enterprise is well documented and there are several links below. Goldman did the cooking and serving, while Berkman helped out periodically.

S.N. Behrman went to Goldman’s ice cream parlor as a child living in Worcester and wrote about the experience in “Double Chocolate with Emma and Sasha,” The New Yorker, January 16, 1954: 24-29.

“One day, when I was still very young, Providence Street began to come alive with rumors and horrid allegations about the proprietors of a new ice-cream parlor that had been opened in our neighborhood. We children were forbidden to patronize the anathematized parlor, and it was a long time before I dared to defy the ban. Since the new entrepreneurs were Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman (whom Miss Goldman called Sasha), some people might have disapproved of them on political grounds; the hatred of the Providence Street parents was founded on religious ones.”


Not long after she was released from prison, Goldman opened her second ice cream parlor in the spring of 1895, together with her friends Claus Timmerman and Edward Brady. Located in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, it only lasted three months. In her autobiography Goldman writes,

“It occurred to me that we might try something like our ice-cream parlour in Worcester. It had been successful there; why not in New York? Ed approved of the project and suggested that we proceed at once. I had saved a little money and Fedya offered us more. Friends advised Brownsville: it was a growing centre, and a store could be got not far from the race-tracks, where thousands of people were passing daily. So to Brownsville we went, and fixed up a beautiful place. Thousands did pass by there, but they kept on passing. They were in a hurry to get to the race-track, and on their way home they had already visited some ice-cream store nearer the track. Our daily receipts were not enough to cover our expenses. We could not even keep up the weekly payments on the furniture we had bought for the two rooms we had rented in Brownsville. One afternoon a wagon drove up and proceeded to collect beds, tables, chairs, and everything else we had. …In three months we had lost five hundred dollars, besides the work.” –Emma Goldman, Living My Life, Volume 1

This week’s challenge:
Where exactly was the second ice cream parlor located? Might it be the same building where she helped her friend Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) opened the first birth control clinic in the United States: 46 Amboy Street, Brooklyn, New York? When you find the answer, please email jmellby@princeton.edu.


46 Amboy Street, Brooklyn, New York. Above: ca. 1916.  Below: 2020.

Soon after this, Goldman moved into 208 East 13th Street, where she published a monthly magazine, Mother Earth, that served as a forum of anarchist ideas and a venue for radical artists and writers. Happily, Hathi Trust is providing open access for students while the library is closed. Firestone Library HX821.M85

 

Here are some other accounts of the ice cream parlor:
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=67893771
https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2015/04/ice-cream-the-dessert-of-revolution
http://www.snbehrman.com/library/newyorker/54.1.16.NY.htm
https://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-mh-anarchism-with-whipped-cream-and-a-cherry-on-top-20150401-column.html

A preview of the PBS American Experience episode on Emma Goldman:

The full hour can be streamed here: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/goldman/#part01

Scott Printing Machine Works, Plainfield, New Jersey

525 South Avenue, Plainfield, New Jersey, in 2020.

 

Scott Printing Press Co.’s Works, Plainfield, N.J., Industrial Area, side view of the factory along with the water tank. Plainfield Public Library. https://plainfieldlibrarynj.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p17109coll3

In 1884, Walter Scott (1844-1907) moved his printing press manufacturing business from Chicago to Plainfield, New Jersey, taking over the lot previously used by New Jersey’s Central Baseball Club. By 1903, Walter Scott & Company covered five acres of downtown Plainfield. “The buildings are of brick, contain a floor space of upwards of 115,000 square feet and are connected with each other by a narrow-gauge railroad, 2,300 feet in length, which runs through the buildings.” —Newspaperdom 10 (January 1, 1903).

Scott operated the largest printing press manufacturing firm in the United States (claimed to be the largest in the world), known especially for high-speed presses and folding machines used by newspapers. In 1893, the New York World installed the first color press in America adapted to newspaper printing, which was built by Scott’s Company in Plainfield. Known as a brilliant inventor, he received his first patent in 1874 and by 1903, held 200 patents. When he died 1907, his widow, Isabella Scott, operated the business until her death in 1931.

Google maps overview of the factory buildings still standing in 2020. The New Jersey Transit Raritan line still runs along the rear of the buildings.

 

Advertisements: The Inland printer. v.3 (1885/86) and American Printer and Lithographer 31 (1900).

 

A biographical sketch of Scott was published in The Inland Printer that begins “It is with pleasure that we are enabled to place before our readers the portrait of a gentleman whose name is familiar to every printer in the United States, Mr. Walter Scott. Blessed with great genius, tireless energy, indomitable perseverance, and administrative ability, he has succeeded in building up what is now the largest and most progressive printing press manufacturing establishment in the world.” It continues:

“Mr. Scott was born in Scotland on May 22, 1844. He was educated at the Ayr Academy, studied theoretical and applied mechanics, and learned the machinist trade. He came to the United States in 1869 and settled in Chicago. He was employed in several printing offices, and was for many years foreman of the pressrooms of the Inter Ocean. In 1872 he commenced to make inventions in printing machinery. His mechanical skill and thorough knowledge of the requirements of the printing office enabled him to produce economical and labor-saving machinery which was eagerly sought after by the appreciative printer. Among his inventions at that time was the printing from a web, pasting, cutting and folding, so as to produce a newspaper with the leaves cut in book from at one operation; also a new rotary web printing and folding machine which produced 30,000 copies per hour.

The demand for Mr. Scott’s improved machines became so great … that in 1884 it was found necessary to erect extensive and commodious works at Plainfield, New Jersey, a cut and description of which will be found below. Messrs. Walter Scott & Co. now makes no less than 117 different kinds and sizes of printing machines, ranging from a small cylinder press to a large book and newspaper machine costing $40,000 and capable of printing, pasting, cutting, and folding 96,000 eight-page papers per hour; besides many other machine and appliances connected with printing.

…This extensive manufactory is situated on South Avenue, between Richmond and Berckman Streets, and adjacent to the central Railroad of New Jersey, in the city of Plainfield. The works occupy five acres, are connected with the central Railroad by a siding and 1,700 feet of rails are laid through the yard to the various building. … The area of floor space is over 78,000 square feet. The buildings are beautifully lighted up by 25 arc and 400 incandescent electric lights, the dynamos of which are placed in the engine room.

…The factory and its equipment are the most complete of anything we have ever seen in this line of manufacture, and we understand it is the largest exclusively devoted to the manufacture of printing and kindred machinery in the United States, over one hundred and fifty machines being in process of construction at one time.– The Inland Printer, American Lithographer 7 (1889/1890): 564-66

See also:
Frederick W. Hamilton, Type and presses in America, a brief historical sketch of the development of type casting and press building in the United States ([Chicago] Pub. by the Committee on education, United typothetae of America, 1918). Graphic Arts Collection 2006-1856N

Herbert L. Baker, Cylinder printing machines, being a study of the mechanism and operation of the principal types of cylinder printing machines ([Chicago] Pub. by the Committee on education, United typothetae of America, 1918). Graphic Arts Collection 2007-0021N

 

 

The New York Times, May 24, 2020

In case you do not get The New York Times or didn’t see today’s paper, here is the front page. Access this page as a high-resolution PDF: VIEW PDF. This file is keyword searchable to find individuals, occupations, and locations. To order a high-quality reprint of this page, click here.

“Numbers alone cannot possibly measure the impact of the coronavirus on America, whether it is the number of patients treated, jobs interrupted or lives cut short. As the country nears a grim milestone of 100,000 deaths attributed to the virus, The New York Times scoured obituaries and death notices of the victims. The 1,000 people here reflect just 1 percent of the toll. None were mere numbers.”