Author Archives: Julie Mellby

The Women of “The Colophon”

In 1922, bibliophile Elmer Adler (1884–1962) founded the private press Pynson Printers and in 1930, began publishing a quarterly journal for book collectors called The Colophon, which featured articles on publishing, printing, and collecting. The physical volumes were also meant to offer examples of contemporary fine press publishing, with articles designed and printed by various presses within the same issue. The driving forces behind The Colophon were Adler, Burton Emmett, and John T. Winterich along with an extended list of contributing editors named in each issue.

While the vast majority of writers, editors, designers, and printers were men, the publication was not exclusively male and a look at the women who contributed to The Colophon provides insight into the history of the book in America during the early twentieth century. Adler closed Pynson Printers and The Colophon in 1940 when he moved to Princeton University. Although there was an attempt to continue under new editorial leadership, it was never equal to the earlier publication and did not last.

Here are the women included in The Colophon. The attached pdf provides an index to each woman’s individual contributions.The Women of The Colophon

Myrta Lockett Avary (1857-1946), author and journalist. Her books include Dixie After the War, The Recollections of Alexander H. Stephens and Uncle Remus and the Wren’s Nest.

Esther Averill (1902–1992) editor, publisher, writer and illustrator best known for the Cat Club picture books.

Althea Leah (Bierbower) Bass (1892–1988), Western Americana historian. Publications include Young Inquirer, The Arapaho Way, Cherokee Messenger, and The Story of a Young Seneca Indian Girl and Her Family, among others.

Babette Ann Boleman (1900s), author and rare book researcher.

Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973), writer and novelist. As the daughter of missionaries, Buck spent most of her life before 1934 in Zhenjiang, China. Her novel The Good Earth was the best-selling fiction book in the United States in 1931 and 1932 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932.

Willa Cather (1873–1947), writer and novelist. Notable books on American frontier life include O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, and My Ántonia. Elmer Adler and Pynson Printers published her early poetry.

Bertha Coolidge (1880–1953) American portrait miniaturist and bibliographer. Notable compilations include Morris L. Parrish’s A List of the Writings of Lewis Carroll [Charles L. Dodgson]in the Library at Dormy House, Pine Valley, New Jersey (1928) and  A Catalogue of the Altschul Collection of George Meredith in the Yale University Library (1931).

Bertha Jean Cunningham (1900s), author, married to a book collector living in Chicago.

Anne Goldthwaite (1869–1944), painter. Trained in Paris, Goldthwaite returned to New York in time to be included in the 1913 Armory Show. She was close friends of Kathrine Dreier, Edith Halpert, and Joseph Brummer, who each exhibited and sold her work at various stages of her career. She was also an active member of the New York Society of Women Artists and enthusiastic advocate for women’s rights.

Belle da Costa Greene (1883–1950), librarian to J. P. Morgan. After his death in 1913, Greene continued as librarian under his son, Jack Morgan. In 1924 the private collection was incorporated by the State of New York as a library for public uses and the Board of Trustees appointed Greene first director of the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Ruth Shepard Granniss (1872–1954), librarian to The Grolier Club, New York. Author of The Book in America, in collaboration with Lawrence C. Wroth, John Carter Brown Library (1939).

Jeanette Griffith (active 1920s–1930s), photographer.

Anne Lyon Haight (1895-1977), writer and bibliophile. Her books include Banned books, Notes on Some Books Banned for Various Reasons at Various Times and in Various Places; Morals, Manners, Etiquette and the Three R’s; and Portrait of Latin America as Seen by her Print Makers. Most notably, she was President of the Hroswitha Club, a women’s bibliophilic organization.

Helen O’Connor Harter (1905–1990), artist and illustrator. Married Thomas Harter, chief of the Los Angeles Examiner’s art department, and moved to New York City where they both worked as commercial illustrators. Eventually, they settled in Helen’s hometown of Tempe, Arizona, where she continued to teach and paint.

Victoria Hutson Huntley (1900–1971), artist and printmaker. Hutson studied under John Sloan and Max Weber, specializing in lithography and awarded prizes from the Chicago Art Institute and the Philadelphia Print Club. She painted murals for the post office in Greenwich, Connecticut, and in Springville, New York, under the Treasury Relief Art Project, part of the New Deal arts program.

Helen M. Knubel (1901-1992), historian. According to the New York Times, she was considered the foremost archivist of the history of the Lutheran Church in North America. She helped to organize the library and archives of the National Lutheran Council, of which she was the secretary of research and statistics from 1954 to 1966. She then became associate director of the Office of Research, Statistics and Archives of the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A., the successor of the NLC.

Marie Abrams Lawson (1894–1956), author and illustrator. The only woman asked to design a cover of The Colophon, Lawson primarily wrote and illustrated children’s books. She was married to Robert Lawson, also a children’s book author and illustrator.

Vera Liebert (1900s), actress and theater historian.

Flora Virginia Milner Livingston (1862–1962), librarian and bibliographer. She was named curator of Harry Elkins Widener collection at Harvard College Library, following the death of her husband Luther S. Livingston, the first librarian of the Widener collection. She completed bibliographies for Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, John Gay and others.

(Emma) Miriam Lone (born ca. 1873), bibliographer and chief cataloguer for New York dealer Lathrop Harper. Author of A Selection of Incunabula Describing One Thousand Books Printed in the XVth Century.

Dorothy McEntee (1902-1990) artist and printmaker.

Dorothy McKay (1902–1972), artist and cartoonist. McKay drew for various magazines including The New Yorker, Esquire, and Life, among others.

Edith Whittlesley Newton (1878–1964), painter and printmaker. Newton lived in New Milford, Connecticut, where she specialized in landscape painting and lithographs.

Lucy Eugenia Osborne (1879–1955), librarian, bibliographer, and historian of rare books at the Chapin Library, Williams College from 1922 to 1947.

Elizabeth Robins Pennell (1855–1936), American writer. She wrote art criticism, travelogues, memoirs, and biographies of Mary Wollstonecraft, Charles Godfrey Leland, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler. She was also a collector of cookbooks, which was given to the Library of Congress along with her husband, Joseph Pennell’s library.

Carlotta Petrina (1901–1997), artist and printer. Best known for her 1933 illustrations to John Milton’s Paradise Lost and the John Dryden translation of Virgil’s Aeneid (1944). The Carlotta Petrina Museum and Cultural Center in Brownsville, Texas, exhibits her art and memorabilia.

Fanny (Fannie Elizabeth) Ratchford (1887–1974), librarian and historian. Ratchford served as librarian of rare books at the University of Texas, Austin. She wrote numerous books and articles, beginning with Some Reminiscences of Persons and Incidents of the Civil War (1909). She received Guggenheim fellowships for 1929–1930, 1939–1940, and 1957–1958 and, late in life, assisted in editing the Oxford edition of the complete works of the Brontës.

Elizabeth Ridgway (1900s), book collector.

Ethel Dane Roberts (1900s), librarian and curator of the Frances Pearsons Plimpton Library of Italian Literature, Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893–1957), English crime writer, poet, playwright, and humanist. Best known for her mysteries, especially the character of amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

Lillian Gary Taylor (1865–1961), collector. Taylor’s library of best-selling American fiction included over 1900 volumes published between 1787 and 1945 and was donated to the University of Virginia in 1945.

Eleanor M. Tilton (1913-1991?), professor and authority on Ralph W. Emerson.

Olivia H. D. Torrence (1900s), author and wife of the poet Ridgely Torrence.

Janet Camp Buck Troxell (1897–1987), collector. Between 1930 and 1965 she amassed over 800 printed items and more than 3,000 manuscripts relating to the Rossettis and their friends (now at Princeton University Library). Names relate to three marriages: Wilder Hobson, New York publisher; Dr. Albert W. Buck, superintendent of New Haven Hospital; and Gilbert McCoy Troxell, curator of American literature, Yale University Library.

Eunice Wead (1881–1969), librarian and curator. A graduate of Smith College, Wead became Smith’s reference librarian in 1906. She moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, serving as a curator of rare books in the general library, in the William L. Clements Library, and as one of the first teachers in the Department of Library Science. On her retirement from Michigan, she returned to Smith to give a course in book history and book arts.

Carolyn Wells (1862–1942), writer and collector. Wells was a prolific author, including mystery novels, poetry, humor, and children’s books. Her collection of Walt Whitman poetry was donated to the Library of Congress.

Blanche Colton Williams (1879–1944) author and professor of English literature. Williams earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1908 and a doctorate in 1913. She went on to teach in the English Department at Hunter College and eventually head of the department. The first editor of the O. Henry Prize Stories, she also collected George Eliot first editions, donated to the Mississippi University for Women library.

Edith Wharton (1862–1937), novelist and playwright. Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1921. She is best remembered for her books The Age of Innocence, The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and her manual The Writing of Fiction.

A Day of Printing Arts

Tag der druck kunst, the first national Day of Printing Arts held last March in Germany was a tremendous success and a call has gone out for a European Day of Printing Arts, to be held March 15, 2020. Initiated by the Berlin-based “Bundesverband Bildender Künstler” (the German Artists Association) all graphic artists, along with as museums, galleries and art institutes are being called to participate. The date was selected to celebrate the anniversary of the recognition of printing techniques as intangible heritage by the German Council of Unesco.

https://www.aepm.eu/publications/conference-proceedings-2/safeguarding-intangible-heritage-passing-on-printing-techniques-to-future-generations/towards-a-european-lobby-for-intangible-printing-heritage/

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if members of the printing community in the United States were to join our colleagues and hold an international day of printing arts? APHA? Grolier? STA? Ladies of Letterpress? CBAA? Guild of Bookworkers? APA?

American Revolutionaries by Esnauts et Rapilly

What do these men have in common, besides the same hat?

They are part of a series of portraits of American revolutionary officers, published in Paris during the 1770s by partners Jacques Esnault (1739-1812, also written Esnauts) and Michel Rapilly (1740-1797?), whose shop was located at no. 259 rue Saint Jacques. Each portrait uses the same cartouche with a shield, cannon, and banner, some laterally reversed. Most of the prints held in the Graphic Arts Collection are before the complete caption, signature, or number at the top.

 

The portraits in the Graphic Arts Collection (both catalogued and recently found) include:

Israel Putnam (1718-1790), an American army general officer, popularly known as Old Put, who fought with distinction at the Battle of Bunker Hill during the American Revolutionary War.

Charles Lee (1732-1782), a general of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence. He also served earlier in the British Army during the Seven Years War.

Horatio Lloyd Gates (1727-1806), a retired British soldier who served as an American general during the Revolutionary War.

George Washington (1732-1799), an American general and the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797.

John Hancock (1737-1793) an American merchant and president of the Second Continental Congress.

John Sullivan (1740-1795), an Irish-American General in the Revolutionary War, a delegate in the Continental Congress, Governor of New Hampshire and a United States federal judge.

George Brydges Rodney (1718-1792), 1st Baron Rodney, KB, a British naval officer. He is best known for his commands in the American War of Independence

Robert Rogers (1731-1795), an American colonial frontiersman. Rogers served in the British army during both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution.

Esek Hopkins (1718-1802), the only Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War.

Benedict Arnold (1741-1801), an American military officer who served as a general during the American Revolutionary War, fighting for the American Continental Army before defecting to the British in 1780.

Several prints are complete with the signature of the printmaker “Dupin,” although it is not certain whether this refers to Jean Victor Dupin (born 1718) or Nicolas Dupin (died after 1789) also referred to as Dupin II.

It would not be Pierre Dupin “the Elder” (ca.1690-ca.1751), father of Jean-Victor, as several online sources list. Nicolas is the better attribution but cannot be confirmed.

 

This is the only print in our collection with text engraved in the cartouche.

Who Drew These and Why?

The Graphic Arts Collection has a series of portraits all done in the same unidentified hand. Was this a class assignment to copy 19th-century black and white sources, and then add color? Or were these actually connected to the source?

Each portrait has an ink transcription on the back taken from the Illustrated London News obituary for these men: Justice Field; Sir Thomas Henry; M. Thiers, Fitzroy Kelley, Sergeant Parry, Alexander J.E. Cockburn, G.H. Lewes-Litera, and F.P.G. Guizot. Neither the portrait nor the text are exact copies.

When you go back to the original portrait and put the two faces side-by-side, the amateur style of the watercolor becomes apparent but the numbering on many and elaborate caption seem to indicate a serious project.

Source Citation: “Death of the Lord Chief Justice.” Illustrated London News [London, England] 27 Nov. 1880: 522+. Illustrated London News. Web. 25 June 2019. URL:http://find.galegroup.com/iln/infomark.do?&source=gale&prodId=ILN&userGroupName=prin77918&tabID=T003&docPage=article&docId=HN3100108866&type=multipage&contentSet=LTO&version=1.0

Several of the wood engraved originals (but not all) are signed by Biscombe Gardner, a regular contributor to the Illustrated London News, portraiture a specialty.

William Biscombe Gardner (1847–1919) was a British painter and wood-engraver. Working in both watercolour and oils, he exhibited widely in London in the late 19th century at venues such as the Royal Academy and the Grosvenor Gallery.[1] From 1896 he lived at Thirlestane Court. He illustrated a number of books featuring the British landscape (see below), notably Kent, Canterbury, and The Peak Country. He also drew scenes from the Welsh Elan Valley in the 1890s, before it was flooded to form the Elan Valley Reservoirs, which appeared in two books by Grant Allen (see “illustrated Books” below). However, it was as a fine wood-engraver that he was mainly known, providing illustrations (sometimes large) for British magazines of the day such as The Pall Mall Gazette, The Illustrated London News, The English Illustrated Magazine and The Magazine of Art. He was a firm advocate of traditional wood-engraving considering it to be the most versatile in comparison to the more conventional methods of engraving and etching, or more recent methods including “process illustration”–DNB

Source Citation: “This Eminent French Statesman and Historian Died on Saturday Night, at His Rural Mansion of Val Richer, Ner Lisieux, in Normandy.” Illustrated London News [London, England] 19 Sept. 1874: 277+. Illustrated London News. Web. 25 June 2019. URL: http://find.galegroup.com/iln/infomark.do?&source=gale&prodId=ILN&userGroupName=prin77918&tabID=T003&docPage=article&docId=HN3100093116&type=multipage&contentSet=LTO&version=1.0

In the end, it is most likely a copy assignment or personal exercise. Why the watercolors stayed together and came to Princeton is still a mystery.

Campaigning 1814

The Graphic Arts Collection holds two copies of a rare broadside prepared for the 1814 gubernatorial campaign of Samuel Dexter (1761-1816): The Ship Union — 98, will meet the Enemy on the First Monday in April, with an American Crew, …not one fainting lubber among them. Peace, obtained by the thunder of our Cannon … not by base submission! ([Boston: Yankee-office, 1814]).

The two stanzas of verse beneath the woodcut were written to encourage people to vote against Governor Strong and for Dexter.

Arise! Ye Sons of Washington, your boarded bark to save,
Don’t give up your gallant Ship, to float on faction’s wave;
The Union, ninety-eight, will soon pour upon the foe
Quincy’s famous cannon balls, and lay the Rebels low;
Brave Dexter will command her and like the noble Perry,
In April next, will rout the foe, and then we’ll all be merry.

Then rally round the Polls, and drive out Caleb Strong,
Let Dexter once but rule us—our Union will be long;
No longer will our gallant ship avoid to meet the foe,
Our Union will range quickly up, and give the deadly blow,
Hoist up the Union Flag, my boys, upon the lofty mast.
And down the Rebel Rag will come, and all their hopes we blast.


When the United States Congress voted to join the War of 1812 on June 18, there were still many who opposed it, in particular Caleb Strong (1745-1819), Governor of Massachusetts. Eight days later, the Massachusetts House of Representatives condemned the war and voted against it 406 to 240. When the war continued into 1814, Strong’s position gained in popularity and instead of retiring, the 69-year-old Federalist ran for a second term.

“…Such was the political atmosphere in Massachusetts, for instance, that the Republicans put forth moderate Federalist Samuel Dexter as their gubernatorial candidate in 1814. Dexter was careful to say that although he shared mainstream Federalists’ sense of grievance, he differed with them as to “their indiscriminate opposition to the war, especially their convention project.” The 1814 election therefore represented a referendum on the proposed Hartford convention above and beyond the war itself, and Caleb Strong beat Dexter handily, drawing 55 percent of the vote.”–Matthew Mason, “Slavery and Politics in the Early American Republic” (Univ of North Carolina Press, 2009).

At the time of the election, Dexter was practicing law in Boston, having served in the Senate, as Secretary of War, and Secretary of the Treasury. His 1814 campaign centered on his support for the war–“Vigorous war till we have an honorable peace”–and accusations that Strong was a coward. This broadside promises his administration would have “not one fainting lubber among them.” The strategy was not successful.

 

Woman’s Independent Government Currency

This $10 bond in the Graphic Arts Collection comes with a Masonic label on the back. It is uncertain what the connection is although there was an interesting new church established in Chicago in 1868.


On August 26, 1868 The New York Times published an article entitled “The Kingdom of Woman. Another Astonishing Development of Spiritualism,” introducing the “headquarters of an extraordinary association of men and women, who deem their great mission to be the formation of a new empire, to be governed by females…”  —https://www.nytimes.com/1868/08/26/archives/the-kingdom-of-woman-another-astonishing-development-of.html

Over the next few years, papers in Indianapolis and other cities around the country echoed the announced:

“Euphemia Regina, Masonic queen of wisdom’s sacred temple, proposes to establish a memorial church at Warehouse Point,” which “is intended to enable woman to make a free pulpit and rostrum for her to dispense the law and ordinances of religion and politics, forming a divine marriage of church and state, and inaugurating ’The New Wisdom Age,’ for the world’s redemption. “Euphemia Regina” is “Sophronia Billings Abbe, grand scribe and corresponding secretary.” — Indianapolis News, Indianapolis, Marion County, 3 September 1872

It seems doubtful the church announced in 1868 relates to the “United States Church” above. This article http://www.iapsop.com/ssoc/1868__scott___spiritualism_not_divine.pdf
“Spiritualism Not Divine: or a System of Demonry [sic], Imposture, and Infidelity Examined in The Light of Philosophy, History, Morality, and the Bible” by James S.H. Scott (1868), takes it even further. Here is a small section:

“The pecuniary obligation incurred by the Masonic Queen of Heaven in the business transaction with which we were favored, had been liquidated, so to speak, as our readers will remember, by the tender of certain cabalistic bills on the Wisdom Bank, each entitling the bearer to Forty dollars worth of good in the City of Light and Love. A facsimile of this supernatural medium of exchange also appeared in our columns in connection with the aforesaid description.

These bills, it should be remembered, were, strictly speaking, neither current nor negotiable; they were, according to their tenor, based upon real estate, and were to be retained by the holder as a charm against all evil, sufficiently long to enable the influence which attended them to pervade his being, and then an agent of Euphemia Abia would, if desired, redeem them in the ordinary currency of the realm. The chief of the Republican job office, owing to grossness and skeptical obtuseness of his spiritual organism, failed to be come susceptible to the developing inducements of these pecuniary charms, and, probably as are buke to his infidelity, Euphemia Abia also failed to perform her part of the contract, and her agent so long delayed his advent that the most sanguine began to doubt the reality of this supernatural existence.

We have now, however, to announce the fact that the Masonic Queen of Heaven has caused to be fulfilled, in part, the vaticinations of Lady Sophronia Kilbourne, an agent having actually redeemed a third portion of these heavenly promises to pay, to the more than intense delight and astonishment of those to whom they were made payable. It becomes, therefore, a pleasant duty to chronicle the birth of a new organ of intelligence, The Wisdom Age, the printing of which, by the Republican job establishment was attended by the afore-and-above mentioned unusual business incidents, and the issuing of which to the world was delayed by these little idiosyncratic maneuvers of Euphemia Abia, Masonic Queen of Heaven, under whose auspices The Wisdom Age has been inaugurated.

 

VISAPUR 2019


https://plas.princeton.edu/people/visiting-scholars-artists-puerto-rico


The Program in Latin American Studies (PLAS) is once again hosting members of the academic and artistic communities of Puerto Rico as visitors at Princeton University in summer 2019. The program continues to provide relief to scholars, students, and artists affected by the catastrophic aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 by allowing them to continue their work at Princeton on a temporary basis.

The VISAPUR program provides a range of support including a stipend to cover living expenses, office space, access to libraries and other scholarly material, and an opportunity to engage with colleagues at Princeton.

Endorsed by the Princeton Task Force on Puerto Rico, PLAS manages the program with co-sponsorship from the Office of the Provost. Additional support has been provided by, the Firestone Library, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Office of the Dean of the Faculty, Office of the Dean of the College, Graduate School, Office of the Registrar, and Housing and Real Estate Services. Special thanks to professor emeritus Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, former PLAS director and professor of Spanish and Portuguese, for his leadership and commitment to the project.

See pictures from last year’s program also: https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2018/08/16/welcome-visiting-scholars-and-artists-from-puerto-rico/

Among the many treasures pulled to show our visitors was this new acquisition: Luis Lloréns Torres (1876-1944), Valle de Collores; grabados por Consuelo Gotay (Puerto Rico: Gotay, 1991). “Trabajaron en la tipografía, la impresión y la encuadernación, Consuelo Gotay, Rafael Orejuela, and Víctor Rodríguez Gotay.” Copy 44 of 100. Inscribed to Arcadio Díaz Quiñones from the artist. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

 

A Zebra with the Head of King George III

“Some of the first exotic animals to enter France and England in the early 1700s,” writes Geri Walton, “were the chimpanzee and the rhino. They would later be upstaged by the zebra, with one of the striped beasts arriving in England in 1762. It was a wedding gift from Sir Thomas Adams and given to Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, who had married George III a few months earlier in 1761.”

The zebra became a shorthand for royal greed and stupidity, appearing in multiple satirical prints of the time.

Thanks to the generous donation of Bruce Willsie, ‘86, the Graphic Arts Collection now holds on deposit this 1768 broadside The Times, which was a sequel to the broadside The Times, or 1768. It does not appear to have any connection to William Hogarth’s The Times, from September 7, 1762, although the comparison would make an interesting article.

Here is a copy of plate one from the British Museum.

The Times, or 1768. British Museum 1868,0808.4412.

They note “Lettered with the title, captions, twenty-four lines of verse in four columns giving the explanation to a numerical key ‘Behold corruption openly profest … Sweet Liberty return, and lasting Peace.’ and ‘To the Memory of William Allen Barbarously Murderd in St. Georges Fields/ Publish’d June 8, 1768 as the act directs, price 6d’.”

Our new broadside features William Allen rising from the dead in the center of the print, while Lord Bute rides a zebra with the head of George III on the right.  The verses below are written in the form of a rebus, substituting controversial words for pictures. Dorothy George writes for the British Museum:

“A broadside satirising Lord Bute, blaming him for the murder of William Allen; with an etching showing a landscape with two columns inscribed with the names of politicians, between the columns at the top centre a medallion of Oliver Cromwell, the left side of the image shows good influences, including a seated figure of Britannia and the Earl Temple accompanied by the British Lion, above them Fama blowing a trumpet and holding a laurel wreath, on the right side, dedicated to the bad influences, Lord Bute riding a zebra which has the head of King George III, near the zebra various animals, in the centre of the image the ghost of Allen rising from a grave; with engraved title, inscriptions, speech-bubbles, and verses in form of a rebus. (n.p.: [1768])”

William Allen was an innocent spectator killed by soldiers of the Scots Guard during the riots in St George’s Fields on 10 May 1768. The anonymous artist of the two quickly produced etchings are taking Lord Temple’s side, blaming Lord Bute, and his close connection with King George III, for the murder.

 

Can you make out the sentences?



 

 

 

How light is scattered by the metallic nanoparticles on the surface of a daguerreotype determines the characteristics of its image, such as shade and color.

https://news.unm.edu/news/trailblazing-findings-of-daguerrerotype-properties-revealed-by-the-metropolitan-museum-of-art-and-unm

Andrea E. Schlather, Paul Gieri, Mike Robinson, Silvia A. Centeno, and Alejandro Manjavacas, “Nineteenth-century nanotechnology: The plasmonic properties of daguerreotypes” in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Online first published June 10, 2019 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1904331116. Edited by Catherine J. Murphy, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL, and approved May 2, 2019.

As seen on various websites, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) and The University of New Mexico have announced groundbreaking new findings after a two-year study of the plasmonic properties of daguerreotypes. Using atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, together with numerical calculations, the team of scientists from The Met and UNM, in collaboration with Century Darkroom, Toronto was able to determine how the light scattered by the metallic nanoparticles on the surface of a daguerreotype determines the characteristics of its image, such as shade and color.

Daguerreotypes, among the earliest photographs of the 19th century, owe their incredible optical properties, image resolution, and dynamic range to light scattering produced by metallic nanostructures on their surface. Here we provide a detailed experimental and theoretical analysis on how the material composition, morphology, and dimensions of these nanostructures determine the characteristics of the daguerreotype image. Our results provide a scientific understanding of the unique optical effects of these artworks and therefore, in addition to providing valuable insight for developing preservation protocols, can inspire additional approaches for color printing, where nanostructures are directly manufactured by light.

Abstract: Plasmons, the collective oscillations of mobile electrons in metallic nanostructures, interact strongly with light and produce vivid colors, thus offering a new route to develop color printing technologies with improved durability and material simplicity compared with conventional pigments. Over the last decades, researchers in plasmonics have been devoted to manipulating the characteristics of metallic nanostructures to achieve unique and controlled optical effects. However, before plasmonic nanostructures became a science, they were an art. The invention of the daguerreotype was publicly announced in 1839 and is recognized as the earliest photographic technology that successfully captured an image from a camera, with resolution and clarity that remain impressive even by today’s standards. Here, using a unique combination of daguerreotype artistry and expertise, experimental nanoscale surface analysis, and electromagnetic simulations, we perform a comprehensive analysis of the plasmonic properties of these early photographs, which can be recognized as an example of plasmonic color printing. Despite the large variability in size, morphology, and material composition of the nanostructures on the surface of a daguerreotype, we are able to identify and characterize the general mechanisms that give rise to the optical response of daguerreotypes. Therefore, our results provide valuable knowledge to develop preservation protocols and color printing technologies inspired by past ones.

See also Mudd Library’s 2000 online exhibition of their historic Princeton daguerreotypes: http://infoshare1.princeton.edu/libraries/firestone/rbsc/mudd/online_ex/dags/intro.shtml

Ten Etchings by J.J. Tissot

James Tissot (1836-1902), The Thames, ca. 1876. Drypoint and etching, from the portfolio Ten Etchings. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

James Tissot (1836-1902), On the Thames (or How Happy I Could Be with Either), ca. 1876. Oil on canvas. Hepworth Wakefield Art Gallery.

Thanks to the generous gift of William and Sally Rhoads, the Graphic Arts Collection is the new owner of Ten Etchings. First series (London (17 Grove End Road, St John’s Wood): J.J. Tissot, 1876). This rare portfolio of drypoints, 1876-1877, each with the artist’s red monogram stamp (L. 1545) on various laid papers, was published by James Tissot (1836-1902) in a total edition of 50 (of which 25 were for subscribers and 25 for sale).

Mr. Rhoads notes “The portfolio was purchased in the 1920s or 30s by my grandfather, Wm. S. Bertolet, M.D., and then owned for 50 years by my mother, Mary B. Rhoads, who was a long-time member of the Friends of the Princeton University Library. She would be delighted that they will reside in Firestone.”

In the early 1870s, James Tissot left Paris and settled in St. John’s Wood, outside London, at 17 Grove End Road (around the corner from Abbey Road and later, Abbey Road Studio). One day, he happened to meet Kathleen “Kate” Newton (née Kelly; 1854–1882), an unwed mother of two, who had also moved to St. John’s Wood where her married sister had a home. Tissot and Newton met, fell in love, and for the next six years, lived together, unmarried, in what the artist called “domestic bliss,” until Newton died of tuberculosis in 1882.

During this period, most of Tissot’s paintings and prints feature Newton, her children, and their quiet family life. Some scenes included Kate’s sister but the views of two young women unsupervised with an adult man scandalizing the London public.

Between 1876 and 1877, Tissot assembled and published a selection of prints in a portfolio titled simply Ten Etchings. Six of these prints, including The Thames at the top of this post, were reproductions of his paintings and two are based on drawings he made while part of the Paris Commune in 1871. The other two are unidentified portraits.
These figures are thought to represent Tissot and Newton.

 

Portrait 1876 James Tissot 1836-1902 Purchased 1927 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N04271