Author Archives: Julie Mellby

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Thomas Rowlandson (1757-1827), Quarter day, or clearing the premisses without consulting your landlord, January 30, 1814. Hand colored etching. Gift of Dickson Q. Brown, Princeton University Class of 1895. Graphic Arts Collection Rowlandson 1785E vol.7


Just a quick note to everyone who has so kindly followed this blog over the years. I will be leaving Princeton at the end of August and so, this will be the end of the new posts.

Since 2007 over 5,000 items in the graphic arts collection have been described. I’m told the site will remain for research and reference, which is my hope. If you have questions about the collection, you can post them to:

Thanks very much for your interest. Julie

Joseph Low, word and image

Corresponding with artists can often mean translating decorative words and images into simple sentences. Beginning in 1952, Graphic Arts curator Gillett Griffin (1928-2016) wrote to the American artist Joseph Low (1911-2007), inviting him to Princeton University to give a demonstration in linoleum block and stencil printing. The two became good friends and a lively correspondence followed, many of the cards and letters archived in our vertical files.

In 1958, Low was invited back to exhibit his new print “The Burning of Nassau Hall in 1802,” in the main lobby of Firestone Library, seen below, and not long after that, Low established his own private press, Eden Hill Press in Newtown, Conn., named after the road on which he lived.

Our library holds many illustrated editions by Low that complement the illustrated letter collection to give a rich and entertaining sense of the artist and his work. Here are a few examples.

Joseph Low (1911-2007), Burning of Nassau Hall, 1802. No date [1958]. Linocut. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2007.01750.


Perry’s “Narrative” and the battle between its printers

Scene showing Wilhelm Heine (1827-1885), official artist for Matthew Perry’s Narrative of the Expedition, sketching top center.


Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794-1858). Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy, by order of the government of the United States. Comp. from the original notes and journals of Commodore Perry ... by Francis L. Hawks. With numerous illus. Pub. by order of the Congress of the United States. Washington, A. O. P. Nicholson and Beverly Tucker, 1856.
Separate titles: Vol. 2 Natural history reports by D. S. Green and others; v. 3 Observation of the zodiacal light, from April 2, 1853 to April 22, 1855, made chiefly on board the United States Steam-Frigate Mississippi … data by George Jones.
Copies at Princeton: Eugene B. Cook Chess Collection Oversize 42843.708q; Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2008-0094Q; Special Collections–Oversize DS809.P45; Special Collections-Rare Books 1732.708q

Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794-1858). Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy … Compiled from the original notes and journals of Commodore Perry and his officers, at his request and under his supervision, by Francis L. Hawks … New York, D. Appleton and Company; London, Trubner & Co., 1856.
Copies at Princeton: Firestone Library DS809 .P45 1856; Special Collections-Rare Books 2006-0435N

This is a link to a pdf with the lithographs in v.1, including the names of the artists (Heine, Peters, etc) or the photographer (Brown) on the right: Perry

Above, comparing two volumes printed for the Senate, two printed for the House of Representatives, and two trade editions.


“In 1851, President Millard Fillmore authorized a formal naval expedition to Japan to return shipwrecked Japanese sailors and request that Americans stranded in Japan be returned to the United States. He sent Commodore John Aulick to accomplish these tasks, but before Aulick left Guangzhou for Japan, he was relieved of his post and replaced by Commodore Matthew Perry. A lifetime naval officer, Perry had distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War and was instrumental in promoting the United States Navy’s conversion to steam power. …On July 8, 1853… Perry led his four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay, seeking to re-establish for the first time in over 200 years regular trade and discourse between Japan and the western world.”–
“Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations”

The opening of Japan to trade with the United States led to an exchange in both directions of an enormous number of products and technology along with the intermingling of Eastern and Western arts and cultural. Curiosity on both sides was immense and influenced the development of music, costume, food, architecture, and other aspects of modern life for a generation to come.

To document this important moment in history, writer Francis L. Hawks (1798-1866) was hired to compile and published Perry’s Narrative of the Expedition in an illustrated edition for the U.S. Congress and trade edition for the American public. This was complicated by the fact that, at that time, there was no Government Printing (later Publishing) Office but separate printers for the House of Representatives and for the Senate. Nathaniel Beverly Tucker (1820-1890) was an American journalist who was elected Public Printer for the United States Senate from 1853 to 1857 and Alfred Osborn Pope Nicholson (1808-1876), a lawyer from Tennessee, was elected Public Printer of the United States House of Representatives.

Article I, section 5 of the Constitution requires that “each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings and from time to time publish the same.” After years of struggling with various systems of contracting for printed documents that were beset with scandal and corruption, in 1860 Congress created the Government Printing Office as its official printer.– Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond

On January 12, 1855, the Senate was the first to place an order for Perry’s Narrative, requesting 5,000 copies, with 500 to be given to Perry and 500 for the U. S. Navy. The following month, the House of Representatives demanded that a copy of the Navy’s report be given to their printer so that 10,00 extra copies be printed along with the 500 for Perry.

“In Senate of the United States, January 12, 1855, ordered to be printed and that 5,000 additional copies be printed; five hundred of which for the use of Commodore Perry. January 29, 1855, ordered that 500 copies be for the use of the Navy Department.”

“In the House of Representatives, February 14, 1855, Resolved. That the Secretary of the Navy be requested to communicate to this House a copy of the report of Commodore M.C. Perry on the subject of the late expedition to Japan; and if said report shall not be completed before the expiration of the present session of Congress, then to deliver the same to the Clerk of the House during the recess. Resolved. That 10,000 extra copies of the said report, together with the maps, charts, and drawings, be printed and five hundred additional copies for the use of the said Commodore M.C. Perry.”


Eliphalet M. Brown preparing to make a daguerreotype.


At the time, the animosity between Tucker and Nicholson was such that they had taken each other to court the previous year, claiming the other was responsible for work and/or compensation in the printing of government documents. In fact, both men were subcontracting the work to the same printing office of Cornelius Wendell and in 1858, the New York Herald broke a story of corruption in the “fat” jobs held by the Congressional printers, which led to both Tucker and Nicholson leaving their positions and eventually to the formation of the Government Printing Office in 1860.

A history of the Government Printing Office:

It was during this litigation that they undertook the printing of Perry’s Narrative, presumably ordering up to 10,500 copies, all printed in the same shop of Cornelius Wendell, with exactly the same text and images, bound in three volumes. A smaller trade edition was printed and published in one volume by D. Appleton and Company in New York City with the tinted lithographs from watercolors by Wilhelm Heine (1827-1885) and daguerreotypes by Eliphalet M. Brown (1816-1886) reproduced as wood engravings.

“Some of the volumes issued by the Government in the past have been very elaborate and expensive. In looking over the subject, it appears a mystery how so much money could be put into a single volume.” Navel Expedition to Japan, 3v. $140.851.30 in 1856–R. W. (Robert Washington) Kerr (born 1841), History of the Government Printing Office (Lancaster, Pa., Inquirer Print. and Pub. Co., 1881). Graphic Arts Collection 2006-3271N


The only difference between the Senate and HoR volumes at Princeton is volume two, which has the colored plates bound recto in one, and verso in the other. Below, in the smaller single volume, Heine’s drawings are slightly changed. See Heine sketching right.


This post is one of two in our Department of Special Collections today about the same phenomenon in the Western world through the lens of different collections under our care, as people throughout Europe and North America had a sudden fascination with all-things Japanese in the latter half of the 19th century. April C. Armstrong, Special Collections Assistant, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, is posting on the “West meets East Japanese themes in Princeton’s graphic arts of the late-19th-century.”

Another post planned in the coming weeks from Emma Sarconi on the Manuscripts News blog will show what our collections have to tell us about “The Mikado,” a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera set in Japan that was first performed in London in 1885 and quickly spread throughout the English-speaking world—even, it appears, to the extent that a group of students named their eating club after it.


More about the book’s illustrations:


Life at Benfolly

“All the adults were writing books…”

“Life at Benfolly” by Janice Biala documents the summer of 1937 when Biala and her partner Ford Madox Ford spent two months at Benfolly, Allen Tate’s farm on the Cumberland River outside Clarksville, Tennessee. Biala also brought her sister-in-law, known as Wally, who had agreed to serve as secretary. All the grown-ups were busy writing books, when the young Robert Lowell turned up unexpectedly.

“The Tates liked Robert but feared that he might become a nuisance. When he asked if he could stay at Benfolly, Allen said, ‘Robert, you’d have to live in a tent in the yard. We have no room for you.’ Taking that as an invitation to pitch a tent in the yard, Lowell returned form Nashville a few days later with an olive-green Sears, Roebuck umbrella tent. Sitting in his tent he tried to craft classical unromantic poems according to Tate’s definition of a good poem and read Marvell aloud to himself for the scansion. He also ran numerous errands for Caroline, who declared him the ‘handiest boy’ she ever saw.”
–Robert Buffington, “The Tates, Ford, and the House of Fiction,” The Sewanee Review
Vol. 116, No. 1 (Winter 2008), pp. 73-92.

1.Caroline Gordon (1895-1981)
2.Allen Tate (1899-1979)
3.Janice Biala (1903-2000)
4.Ford Madox Ford (1873-1939)
5.West Portico of Benfolly, three miles from Clarksville, Tennessee.
6.Caroline Gordon holding Vili
7.Tenant farmer, Mr. Norman
8.Nancy Tate (Wood) (1925-2007) 7 years old
9.Rachel “Wally” Wolodofsky Tworkov (1917-1991)
10.Ida (last name unknown) hired to cook
11.Clarksville, Tennessee
12.John T. Cunningham bridge
14.Nancy Tate
15.Nancy’s visitor
16.Robert Lowell (1917-1977) 20 years old
17.Nancy in Cumberland River
18.Nancy teaching tenant children
19.Little Bit


In 1939, Dean Christian Gauss approached the Carnegie Foundation to help Princeton University focus on the cultivation of writers and other artists. The Foundation promptly responded with a generous five-year grant of $75,000 to pay the salaries of “practioners in the arts”. . . . That same year, Professor Thorp nominated poet and critic Allen Tate as the first Resident Fellow in Creative Writing, and Tate began teaching the following September. He was to “act as general adviser to undergraduates interested in writing and will be in general charge of the new plan designed to further the work of entering freshman in creative writing.” The following year, the Creative Arts Committee appointed Tate for a second year and allowed him to invite poet and critic Richard P. Blackmur to assist him.

In 1942, the Committee appointed George Stewart, Princeton class of 1917, as Resident Fellow and, over the course of the nearly 20 years that followed, brought a succession of poets, writers, and critics to teach in the program under the Committee Chairman Professor Arthur Szathmary and the Program Director R.P. Blackmur. Among these were John Berryman, Joseph N. Frank, Delmore Schwartz, William Meredith, Robert Fitzgerald, Sean O’Faolain, Richard Eberhart, Kingsley Amis, and Philip Roth. Today, this program has evolved into the Hodder Fellowship.–

Color separation for Scribner’s Magazine 1905

The beautiful color illustrations in Scribner’s Magazine were of course thanks in part to the artist of the original painting or drawing but much credit also goes to the artist who did the color separations for each tone or section of the picture. Did them by eye, not photoshop or even a camera. Without these precise zinc or stone plates and the right mixture of colored inks, the true beauty of the painting would not have survived the translation into print.

The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have a number of proofs for the individual color plates that were combined to form a single image, such as the plates for the story “An Impressionist’s New York” by H.G. Dwight, illustrated by Walter Jack Duncan (1881-1941) and published in Scribner’s Magazine November 1905. Here is a taste of that work.







Highland Jeans 1839

Copperplate laterally reversed above, as engraved below

With sincere thanks to W. Allen Scheuch II, Princeton Class of 1976, the Graphic Arts Collection has an early 19th-century engraved copper plate from the Highland Jeans company. There is no information on this manufacturer other than a series of 1839 dry-goods advertisements by Samuel Seay in Tennessee.

In searching historic cotton and woolen mills from the time, in that area, John N. Lovett, Jr has written a detailed survey available online. A small section is posted below.

The manufacturers of textile machinery found their beginnings well before the Civil War, primarily in the New England area. Prior to that time, almost all textile machinery was built in England. The primitive machines fabricated in the United States in the years following Samuel Slater’s arrival in Rhode Island in the 1790’s were hand-crafted by artisans according to specifications furnished by a handful of knowledgeable people. The first machines built were carding machines, similar to the one surviving in Ketner’s Mill in Marion County. The spinning jack, a vast improvement over the jenny, was invented in England around 1810, and began to appear in American textile mills in New England circa 1820. Power looms first appeared in New England about 1815.

By the 1840’s, all these machines were universally employed in the larger textile factories. It is obvious from the surviving schedules of the 1820 Census of Manufactures for Tennessee that several carding machines were in operation. There are also some references to spinning factories prior to 1820 in the state, but these recollections are often difficult to verify. One source accepted as reliable is Eastin Morris’ Tennessee Gazetteer of 1834. This remarkable work includes references to three spinning factories, six cotton factories, and a cotton/woolen mill in the state. It is also known that several textile factories were in production in the state in the 1840’s. By this time, large manufacturers of textile machinery were established in New England. Some of the better known are highlighted below.

The Davis and Furber Company of North Andover, Massachusetts, was established before the Civil War, and survived until recent years. It was perhaps the longest-lived and largest manufacturer of most types of textile machinery, including pickers, cards, and spinning jacks and mules. The only product of this company known to survive in Tennessee is an 1866 Davis and Furber finishing card at Falls Mill in Franklin County. Crompton Loom Works. In the early 1840’s, a large textile mill in Massachusetts put into operation several power looms designed by a newly emigrated British mechanic named William Crompton. Soon after, the Crompton Loom Works was established in Worcester, Massachusetts. William’s son George took over the business later, and by 1876 the company was producing an extensive line of looms of many types. The company became Crompton and Knowles and continued to build looms well into the twentieth century. The only Crompton looms known in Tennessee are the three in the Falls Mill collection, two small plain looms and a large broad loom, manufactured in the early 1870’s.

Rhode Island manufacturer William Dean Davis began his business selling kerseys and linseys, for example, but in 1839 added all-wool jeans and plains. Jean was most commonly all cotton or cotton warp with a woolen weft, in a twill (diagonal rib) weave, and categorized with other durable fabrics meant for working clothes, such as fustian and denim.–Historic Context Evaluation For Mills In Tennessee by John N. Lovett, Jr., Ph.D.

The Second Wave and more

The Graphic Arts Collection continues to collect folk and tribal art from South Asia as it relates to the pandemic. In Mithila artist Nisha Jha’s “Second Wave”, she focuses on wearing masks, sanitizing, and vaccination as critical to stemming the spread of the virus. The border depicts the coronavirus being injected with the vaccine and “making this world corona-virus free.” In another section, she’s painted a Covid-19 vaccination center. The work also highlights how individuals in the informal sector adjusted to preserve their livelihoods in the midst of the pandemic, e.g. vegetable sellers who turned to offering masks and sanitizer.


Graphic Arts has also recently expanded the focus for this collection to include themes related to women’s experiences in India. One example is “Today’s Modern Woman” by Vinita Jha. This work reimagines the goddess Durga by replacing the traditional items in her hands with contemporary ones – (clockwise) an infant, a spray bottle for cleaning, a cup of coffee, a smart phone, a child, an iron, a shopping bag, and a griddle and spatula.


Nisha Jha (also the creator of “The Second Wave” and daughter of Vinita Jha) questions what constitutes an auspicious marriage in her painting “The Hungry Man of Dowry.” Here she has depicted the bride as the Kāmadhenu, or Cow of Plenty, who brings a BMW, a Royal Enfield motorcycle, a computer, and other luxury goods into her new marriage.


Thanks to Ellen Ambrosone, South Asian Studies Librarian, for this guest post.

Claud Lovat Fraser

Claud Lovat Fraser by Marion Neilson, gelatin silver print, 1913. National Portrait Gallery NPG P966

From 1911, when Claud Lovat Fraser left a law clerkship to devote himself to art, until 1921 when he died at the young age of 31, this prolific artist was responsible for dozens of poetry broadsheets, magazine and book designs, theatrical set and costume designs, and much more.

Princeton University Library holds 72 titles in various collections beginning with the broadsides published by Fraser, Holbrook Jackson, and the poet Ralph Hodgson under the imprint of the “Sign of the Flying Fame.” After World War I, Fraser’s designs were distributed by Harold Munro’s celebrated Poetry Bookshop at 35 Devonshire Street.


Graphic Arts holds Rhyme Sheets from both Fraser’s first and second series, along with many bound volumes from Munro’s shop.


It is difficult to get a sense of Fraser as a man until you see the two portraits held in London’s National Portrait Gallery. The first, above, is a charming Pictorialist headshot that leads one to assume he was a handsome, even dashing young man. The second, below, tells a different story of a large man in ill health, who aspired to an elegance in his work that he could not attain in real life.

Claud Lovat Fraser by Powys Evans, lithograph, 1922. National Portrait Gallery NPG D33422

Haldane Macfall wrote in The Book of Lovat (1923), that Fraser was “Romantically modern,” calling him “the last of the dandies.”  He goes on to say “His keen sense of Humour early warned him that his bulk, his stature, his heavy form, would have fitted ill with the slender elegancies of the powdered wig, brocaded coat, and knee-breeches; and with laughing philosophy he compromised before his frank mirror between art and God’s design of him by leaning towards the years of the Regency…”

Here are a few more of Fraser’s wonderful pochoir designs.

Drawn to be printed

Charles R. Macauley (1880-1934), A Yankee in Czar Nicolas’ Court, no date. Pen and ink on board. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.01949

The Graphic Arts Collection holds many drawings, paintings, and sketches prepared to be photographed and wood engraved for magazine illustrations. Most artists did not create finished work to be framed, but linear work that reproduced well for large runs on steam presses.

In searching recently for the original work of art, needed by a researcher who had only the half-tone reproduction, we found a number of works that had never been connected with the magazine issue where they were printed and published. Here are five such examples.

If anyone has the time to search them, it would be wonderful to connect the drawings with the printed story in Harper’s, Scribner’s, or other early 20th-century magazine. *This is not as easy as it sounds.


William Charles Morris (1874-1940), The End of a Perfect day in Italy, ca. 1936. Pen and ink on paper. Grpahic Arts Collection GA 2009. 00077


Angus MacDonall (1876-1927), Untitled [Firemen’s Parade], 1912. Pen and ink, gouache on paper. Graphic Arts Collection GA2006.02607.




Angus MacDonall (1876-1927), Father Time: Humph! They’re Showing No Regard for Me! 1911. Pen and ink, gouache on board. Graphic Arts Collection GA2006.02606


Phil Porter, Untitled [Theodore Roosevelt sharpening enormous pencil inscribed Magazine Editorship], no date. Pen and ink on paper. Graphic Arts collection GA 2006.01950


21st-century mutoscope or giphoscope

Like the 18th-century metamorphosis books, or the 19th-century Mutoscopes, or Thomas Edison’s 19/20th-century Kinetoscopes, the newly acquired “Ornithology L” by J.C. Fontanive is a sequence of images viewed in rapid succession. It will join our Zoetropes and Phenakistoscopes and other optical devices bringing our history of moving images delightfully into the 21st century.

Ornithology P from J. C. Fontanive on Vimeo.

“Juan Fontanive’s work reflects a duel interest in the rhythmic pulse of the natural world and the modern era’s invention of the moving image. While studying Literature and Textual Studies as an undergraduate at Syracuse University, Fontanive began experimenting with 16mm film, combining narrative and image. While pursuing a Masters Degree at the Royal Academy in London, Fontanive began creating hand-tooled mechanized flip books Fontanive has described as, “films without light.” Each compact aluminum cube is machined to flip through 72 double-sided screen-prints depicting birds, moths, and butterflies that are sourced from 18th and 19th century natural history illustrations, or collaged together; or, in the instance of his moth series, Otherlight, are original hand-drawn images. The perpetual movement through the images create the illusion of flight while at the same time, flipping through the images at half the rate of film, also gives the viewer a long gaze at the detailed illustrations.”

For more of the artist’s work see:

See Edison’s birds!!:

Ornithology I from J. C. Fontanive on Vimeo.