Author Archives: Julie Mellby

Ragamuffin Day cancelled

“The entire Ragamuffin Parade Committee is heartbroken,” wrote the 2020 committee, “that we will be disappointing so many children and, of course, their parents by not having this big, fun event along Third Avenue this year.”


Don Freeman (1908-1978), Dress Up Day, ca. 1936. Lithograph.

First held on Thanksgiving in 1870, American children would dress as beggars or street urchins and go door to door asking for candy and pennies. Eventually, uncontrolled begging was replaced with an annual costume parade. Last held in Manhattan around 1956, the parade was revived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, and continues along Ragamuffin Way each year (except during the present Covid 19 epidemic).

James Greenwood (1832-1929), The True History of a Little Ragamuffin (London: Ward, Lock, and Tyler, 1867). Not yet at Princeton University Library. See David Croal Thomson , Life and labours of Hablôt Knight Browne, “Phiz” (London, Chapman and Hall, 1884). Graphic Arts Collection oversize 2008-0463Q. 20-volume set, extra-illustrated with tipped-in works by Browne, including: etchings (some hand-colored); engravings; aquatints; lithographs; wood engravings; pencil drawings (some with added gouache); pen and ink washes; watercolors; one albumen photograph of a drawing; illustrated letters; and book covers.

Before Zoom, Pre-Cinema, Optical Devices Tour

Remember 2:00 p,m, EST on Friday, December 4, 2020


One day Gillett Griffin, Graphic Arts Curator 1953-1966, was working on the 2nd floor of Firestone library and a graduate student named William Mackenzie walked in. It seems his Scottish aunt had this big wood thing in her attic she wanted to get rid of and would Gillett like it for the collection? Happily he said yes.

The gigantic optical device [left] known as an alethoscope was added to the graphic arts collection. Because of its size, we call this a Mega-alethoscope or megalethoscope and there are only a handful of these beautiful devices in the United States. In fact, if you look it up in Wikipedia, you will see Princeton’s megalethoscope.

Patented by Carlo Ponti in 1861, the slides for this deluxe viewer are albumen silver prints on stretched canvas, with holes or layers so that when light comes from the front, you see a daytime scene and when light comes from the back, day turns to night.


The evolution of images and image viewing is of equal importance to the evolution of words. The optical devices are not simply toys or novelties but important evidence documenting image viewing over the last 500 years.





Please join us at 2:00 EST on Friday, December 4, 2020, for a free webinar highlighting our collection of pre-zoom, pre-cinema optical devices, rare artifacts designed for shared public entertainment or personal moments of wonder, leading up to the invention of the motion picture.

Through a series of live webcams (yikes, not prerecorded), we will attempt the phantasmagoria experienced in the past as we peer into 18th-century peepshows, twirl phenakistoscopes, open a gigantic megalethoscope and crank a miniature cinematograph. Feel the sense of wonder as still images come to life, turning day to night, causing volcanoes to erupt, and conjuring faces to rise from anamorphic chaos.

We will be joined by Christopher Collier, Executive Director, and Jesse Crooks, Operations Director and Head Projectionist for Renew Theaters, who will share some of the history and treasures of Princeton’s Garden Theater.

As always, this one hour session is free and open to the pubic but you need to register to get the invitation link: Register here.






Seen here are a variety of 18th-century hand colored prints and 19th-century photographs, each used in a different type of viewing device.

















Le Gueux = The Beggar

Eugène Héros (1860-1925) editor, Le gueux. January 1891-October 1892. Monthly. [Paris, 35, rue d’Hauteville: Gueux, 1891-92]. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process



The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired 16 individual fascicles, a complete run, of the short lived satirical monthly Le gueux (The Beggar), edited and printed by the lyricist Eugène Héros. A trained lawyer and member of Le chat noir, Héros later became managing director of the Théâtre du Palais Royal (1907-1910) and manager of La Scala (1914-1918). In between writing popular songs, he published the pamphlet Suppression de l’assistance publique (Paris: P. Andreol, 1890), followed by La partie de baccara: comédie-vaudeville en un acte, the first of many plays.



Each issue of Gueux has a singular color lithograph on its cover designed by H. Gray (Henri Boulanger 1858–1924), Jules-Alexandre Grün (1868–1938), Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859-1923), Victor Sorel, Lilé, Jasmin, and Tzar. Number 9 has the a center fold by Steinlen, also seen on sheet music, titled Mon petit salé (My salted pork).


Also included in one issue is a subscription card and receipt card designed by H. Gray (Henri Boulanger 1858–1924).


Picturing Chess

Given the success of The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis (New York: Random House, 1983) [HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access ReCAP PS3570.E95 Q4 1983] and the Netflix series, we thought it might be interesting to see what chess games were in our collection, played by all genders. Princeton owns one of the earliest calotypes of two men playing chess, attributed to the unknown British amateur named Brodie and undated [above: Richard Willats ark:/88435/k930bx11x, Treasures of the Graphic Arts Collection]. This rivals the calotype attributed to Antoine Claudet showing two men playing chess around 1845.

On the left is the death mask for the French chess master Louis-Charles Mahé de La Bourdonnais (1795–1840, box 25), who Wikipedia calls “possibly the strongest player in the early 19th century.” Unfortunately there is no picture of him actually playing.

Princeton University Library’s Eugene Beauharnais Cook chess collection, includes over 2000 volumes, separately arranged, classed and catalogued. The complete list of the collection is published in Princeton University Library Classified List VI (1920) pp. 3585-3608 [(ExB) 0639.7373.5 vol. 6]. [full text] .

Within the Cook collection is a portfolio holding nineteen prints and photographs (Cook Oversize GV1447 .C665e). Two are particularly interesting as they are both the French and German edition of the lithograph after Johann Peter Hasenclever (1810-1853) from the series Le musee des rieurs. The German print is titled Die Schachspieler (Berlin) and in Paris the print is called Les Joueurs d’echecs.

Other chess themes appear in Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), Check mate. n.d. [1790]. Pen and ink. Graphic Arts Collection Rothrock GA 2014.00739. Below James Bretherton (active 1770-1781), A game at chess [before and after lettering]. London: [s.n.], 1780/03/01. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize GA 2011.01368 and at the bottom George Cruikshank (1792-1878), Game of chess. London: [s.n.], 1819/08/01. Graphic Arts Collection GC022

Proof before lettering above. Note the changes in the final print below, including a second dog.

There is much more, of course, but this is a taste.



A Curious Application of Photography 1857

TelaDoc medicine is not so new. Under the heading: “PARIS GOSSIP: New Freaks of Fashionable Life–A Grisette Strangled in an Eastern Harem–French Marringes–Miscellaneous News,” a story titled “Curious application of photography” was printed in New York Daily Times January 6, 1857, then, reprinted in various other papers as far as the Lancaster Gazetter (from the Paris correspondent of the New York Times), Friday, January 31, 1857.

It looks like this:

Who needs paper?

Fred Tomaselli, Untitled, 2020. Paper collage, resin, paint. James Cohan Gallery

Will your library continue to purchase paper newspapers?

At a time when the home delivery of the paper New York Times is rising to nearly $200/year (depending on location and a variety of discounts) and a petition is being widely circulated to stop the freezing the largest historical paper collections in the world (webpage), we seem to be at a precipice in our need or appreciation for paper, in its many formats.

At the same time, those living in the New York area can pick up around two dozen free paper newspapers focused on neighborhoods and/or social groups (is anyone collecting them?) And the most interesting art exhibition of the weekend involves the intersection of newspaper text (specifically from the New York Times) and painting. Three of the eight works by Fred Tomaselli (born 1956) shown at James Cohan’s Gallery are pictured here digitally, better seen in the original.

These are disparate topics, that do seem to relate.


Fred Tomaselli, Untitled, 2020. Paper collage, resin, paint. James Cohan Gallery

Fred Tomaselli Opening October 23 from James Cohan Gallery on Vimeo.

Fred Tomaselli, Untitled, 2020. Paper collage, resin, paint. James Cohan Gallery

“In early 2020, the management of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Den Haag) made the decision that its famous paper historical collection will no longer be a “core domain” and thus be terminated in terms of curatorship. Starting in January 2021 the second largest paper collection in the world will be without an active curatorship and without further collection development, i.e. no more acquisitions of relevant objects and specialist literature. While the collection will be stored and available, ongoing and future research will be frozen.”

Perhaps this is one of many collections that no longer have the benefit of curatorial control, perhaps that is another issue. It does seem to be a moment when we are re-evaluating the importance of paper within special collections and in our lives.

Detail, Untitled, 2020.

Fitzgerald, Joyce, and Beach dine together June 27, 1928

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), The Great Gatsby (New York: Scribner’s 1925). Beach 3740.8.341.11 c.4

Answering a reference question this morning, this charming sketch appeared. It is well-known in the Fitzgerald circles but makes for a nice ending to the week.

For the complete story, see J.D. Thomas, “F. Scott Fitzgerald: James Joyce’s “Most Devoted” Admirer,” The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review 5 (2006), pp. 65-85




Hours Press

One of the most interesting small presses to come out of Paris in the 1920s was Hours Press, run by Nancy Cunard (1896-1965), with the assistance of Henry Crowder (1890-1955). Details about the press are recorded by Cunard herself in These were the Hours: memories of my Hours Press, Reanville and Paris, 1928-1931, edited with a foreword by Hugh Ford (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, [1969]).

The British heiress was a popular jazz age beauty, well over six feet tall, she was sought after by many artists including Constantin Brancusi whose bronze sculpture La jeune fille sophistiquée (Portrait de Nancy Cunard) sold in 2018 for $71,000,000.

Cunard settled in Paris at the age of 24, where she published three volumes of poetry in quick succession: Outlaws in 1921, Sublunary in 1923, and Parallax in 1925. Convinced that she could print and publish her own books, Cunard left Paris in 1927 for a house in Réanville, Normandy. There she installed a 200-year-old Belgian Mathieu hand press purchased from Bill Bird of Three Mountains editions. It came with plenty of Caslon Old Face type and Vergé de Rives paper that she happily used for most of her early books. As a printer Cunard was chiefly self-taught although she had some lessons in setting type from Leonard and Virginia Woolf. Her imprint was to be called Hours Press, perhaps a suggestion from Virginia.

Front covers above. Back covers below.


Around this time, she also fell in love with Henry Crowder (1890-1955), a Black American jazz musician and lived with him for the next eight years, building the printshop together. “Henry Crowder, . . . had helped in many different ways already . . . Together we folded the sheets into pages as they came off the new Minerva press I had just bought to increase the tempo of our work.” Many friends offered to let Hours Press publish their manuscripts and artists such as Man Ray and Yves Tanguy agreed to design the covers.

In January 1930, they moved their home and printshop back to Paris where Crowder could both print and perform with his jazz band. Under his direction, they also worked on an anthology of African American writing to be called Negro, which soon became an obsession for Cunard. While vacationing in the south of France that summer, Cunard and Crowder turned over the management of the press to Mrs. Wyn Henderson and her young printer John Sibthorpe. This freed Cunard for research and travel to collect work for their anthology but eventually, she had to choose between projects. Hours Press was closed in early 1931 having completed 25 publications.

Cunard published her Negro anthology in 1934, collecting poetry, fiction, and nonfiction primarily by African-American writers, including Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston along with writing by George Padmore and her own essay on the Scottsboro Boys.

Hours Press books:

Douglas, Norman. Report on the Punice-Stone Industry of the Lipari Islands. June 1928. 80 letterpress copies set in 11 pt. Caslon Old Face. Not for sale.

Moore, George. Peronnik the Fool. December 1928. 200 letterpress signed copies on Vergé de Rives paper set in 11 pt. Caslon Old Face. Sold for £2.

Aldington, Richard. Hark the Herald. December 1928. 100 letterpress signed copies on Vergé de Rives paper, set in 17 pt. Caslon Old Face. Mary blue wrappers. Not for sale.

Guevara, Alvaro. St George at Silene. January 1929. 150 letterpress signed copies on Velin de Rives paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Designed by the author. Sold for 10s, 6d.

Douglas, Norman. One Day. July 1929. 200 signed copies on Velin de Rives, set in monotype. Sold for 3 £3, 3 s. Also 300 copies, Vergé de Vidalon sold £1. 10s

Symons, Arthur. Mes Souvenirs. July 1929. 200 signed copies on Velin de Rives paper. Sold for £2, 2s.

Aragon, Louis. La Chasse au Snark. Early winter. 300 letterpress signed copies on Alfa paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Title on front designed and composed by Aragon. Also 5 copies on Japan paper. 300 copies sold at £1. 1s; 5 copies at £5, 5s.

Aldington, Richard. The Eaten Heart. Late winter 1929. 200 letterpress signed copies on Canson-Montgolfier set in 16pt. Caslon Old Face. Sold for £1, 1s.

Lowenfels, Walter. Apollinaire. Early 1930. 150 copies signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Cover front and back designed by Yves Tanguy, printed black on daffodil paper boards. Sold for £1, 10s.

MacCown, Eugene. Catalogue of Paintings, Drawings, and Gouaches. Early 1930. 1000 copies set in Caslon old Face Italics on Vergé de Rives paper. Not for sale.

Graves, Robert. Ten Poems More. Early spring 1930. 200 signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt Caslon Old Face. Cover photomontage by Len Lye. Sold for £1. 10s.

Riding, Laura. Twenty Poems Less. Spring 1930. 200 signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Front and back cover photomontage designed by Len Lye. Sold for £1. 10s.

Riding, Laura. Four Unposted Letters to Catherine. Early summer. 200 signed copies on Haut Vidalon paper set in Garamond Italic type. Front and back cover photomontage by Len Lye. Sold for £2.

Campbell, Roy. Poems. July 1930. 200 letterpress signed copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Two drawings by the author. Sold for £1. 10s.

Beckett, Samuel. Whoroscope. Midsummer 1930. 100 signed letterpress copies and 200 not signed, both on Vergé de Rives paper set in 11 pt. Caslon Old Face. Won £10 prize for the best poem on ‘Time.’ Signed sold for 5s; not signed sold for 1s.

Pound, Ezra. A Draft of XXX Cantos. Midsummer 1930. 200 copies not signed on Canson-Montgolfier-Soleil Velin paper and 10 signed (2 of these on vellum) on Texas Mountain paper bound in red leather. Initial letters by Dorothy Shakespear (wife of Pound). 200 copies sold for £2; 10 copies sold for £5, 5s.

Rodker, John. Collected Poems. August 1930. 200 signed copies hand-made paper. Initial lettering by Edward Wadsworth. Front and back cover photomontage by Len Lye. Sold for £1, 10s.

Crowder, Henry. Henry-Music. December 1930. 150 copies signed. Cover photomontage by Man Ray. Sold for 10s, 6d.

Acton, Harold. This Chaos. January 1931. 150 letterpress signed copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Front and back cover designed and printed in blue by
Elliott Seabrooke. Sold for £1, 10s.

Aldington, Richard. Last Straws. January 1931. 200 signed copies in green suede cloth boards. 300 not signed copies in grey-brown paper boards. Designed by Douglas Cockerell. Signed copies sold for £2; unsigned copies sold for 7s, 6d.

Howard, Brian. First Poems. January 1931. 150 signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Covers designed by John Banting. Sold for £1. 10s.

Brown, Bob. Words. January 1931. 150 signed letterpress copies on Canson-Montgolfier paper set in 16 pt. Caslon Old Face. Upper cover designed by John Sibthorpe. Sold for £1, 10s.

Moore, George. The Talking Pine. Early 1931. 500 copies. Not for sale.

Ellis, Havelock. The Revaluation of Obscenity. Spring 1931. 200 signed copies. Blue cloth boards. Sold for £2.


Zapata from Yolla Bolly Press

If you were very fortunate in the 1980s or 1990s, you got to visit the Yolla Bolly Press, “Publishers of Modern Literature in Fine Press Limited Editions,” in Round Valley, Mendocino County, four hours north of San Francisco, deep in California’s Coast Range mountains. The press, founded by James and Carolyn Robertson, ceased printing/publishing with the death of James Robertson in 2001. Happily, many of their books are still available.

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired Zapata: a narrative, in dramatic form, of the life of Emiliano Zapata written by John Steinbeck with woodcuts by Karin Wikström (Covelo, Calif. : Yolla Bolly Press, 1991). Copy 33/100. Graphic Arts Collection Q-000936 (note: printed with several different colored papers)


“This work formed the basis for the screenplay, Viva Zapata!” notes the t.p. verso. Steinbeck’s text is accompanied by: Zapata, the man, the myth, and the Mexican Revolution : commentary on John’s Steinbeck’s narrative by Robert E. Morsberger.

Princeton University Library Forrestal Annex, Reserve PN1997 .V56 1993 c.1; c.2; c.3; c.4

“One hundred copies were printed, of which fifty numbered copies accompany the portfolio version of the Steinbeck narrative” “Forty copies, numbered 11 to 50, have seven handcolored illustrations, an additional Wikström print, a supplemental text, and are enclosed in a portfolio of archival board covered in buckram with bone closures. One hundred ninety copies, numbered 68 to 257, are enclosed in a slipcase of archival board covered with buckram. Copies numbered 1 to 10 and 51 to 67 are reserved for the Press”–Colophon.

Radical members of the South Carolina Legislature

Attributed to J. G. Gibbes, Radical Members of the So. Ca. [South Carolina] Legislature, no date [1868?]. Albumen silver print. GA 2009.01025 and GA 2009.01024

After our recent election, did anyone ask if either house, any legislature, or other governing body now had a majority of Black members? On January 14, 1868, the South Carolina constitutional convention met in Charleston with a majority of Black delegates.

There are many images of this 1868 photo-montage on the internet. We digitized ours so researchers could enlarge and study each individual man.
As described by the Digital South Carolina Encyclopedia,

The 1868 constitution was revolutionary because it embodied many democratic principles absent from previous constitutions. The new document provided for population alone, rather than wealth or the combination of wealth and population, as the basis for House representation. It also continued popular election of the governor. Additionally, the 1868 constitution abolished debtors’ prison, provided for public education, abolished property ownership as a qualification for office holding, granted some rights to women, and created counties. Provisions [in schools] for the deaf and blind were also ordered. Race was abolished as a limit on male suffrage. The Black Codes that had flourished under the constitution of 1865 were overturned. There was no provision against interracial marriage, and all the public schools were open to all races.

This text accompanies the print:

“These are the Photographs of 63 members of the reconstruction South Carolina Legislature, 50 of whom are negros, or mulattoes and 13 white. 22 read and write (8 grammatically). The remainder (41) make their mark with the aide of an amanuensis. Nineteen (19) are tax-payers to an aggregate amount of $146.10 the rest (44) pay no taxes, and the body levies on the white people of the State for $4,000,000.”

Two of the images in the composite read: “President, Lieut. Gov. Booze 40 acres and a mule” and “Judas Moses who raised the Confederate flag on Fort Sumter”.

The men’s names are printed on some copies:
1-Dusenberry, McKinlay, Dickson, Wilder, Hoyt, Randolph, Harris
2-Myes, Jillson, Lomax, Jackson, Thomas, Webb, Bozeman, Tomlinson, Wright.
3-Demars, Brodie, Hayes, Cain, Maxwell, Martin, Cook, Miller.
4-Rivers, Duncan, BOOZER, Smythe, Wright, MOSES, Sancho, Sanders, Nuckles.
5-Miteford, White, Barton, Boston, Shrewsbury, Mickey, Henderson, Howell, Hayne, Mobley, Hudson, Nash, Carmand.
6-Smith, Pettengill, Hyde, Lee, Simonds, Chesnut, McDaniel, Williams, Gardner.
7-Swails, Perrin, James, Johnston, Wimbush, Hayes, Farr, Meade, Thompson, Rainey.

Thanks to Emily E. Vaughn, we know a little more:
Row 1
Harris, David
McKinley, Whitfield J.
Randolph, Benjamin F.
Wilder, Charles M.

Row 2
Boseman, Benjamin A.
Lomax, Hutson J.
Mays, James P.
Thomas, William M.
Wright, Jonathan J.

Row 3
Brodie, William J.
Cain, Lawrence
Cooke, Wilson
Hayes, Eben
Maxwell, Henry J.

Row 4
Duncan, Hiram W.
Nuckles, Samuel
Rivers, Prince R.
Saunders, Sancho
Smythe, Powell
Wright, John B.

Row 5
Burton, Barney
Hayne, Henry E.
Henderson, James A.
Hutson, James
Mickey, Edward C.
Mobley, Junius S.
Nash, William B.
Shrewsbury, Henry L.
White, John Hannibal

Row 6
Chestnut, John A.
Gardner, John
Lee, Samuel J.
McDaniels, Harry
Simons, William M.
Smith, Abraham W.

Row 7
Farr, Simeon
James, Burrell
Johnson, William E.
Meade, James W.
Perrin, Wade
Rainey, Joseph H.
Swails, Stephen Atkins
Thompson, Benjamin A.
Wimbush, Lucius W.