Author Archives: Julie Mellby

Trade cards for pianos and organs

The Graphic Arts Collection includes many boxes of chromolithographed trade cards. Here is a section of piano and organ companies, mixed with a few videos so you can hear the sound of the reed instruments. A brief video introducing the Estey Organ Company is at the bottom.

William Gray’s Social Contrasts [of women]

William Gray, Social Contrasts, Portrayed in a series of twenty two coloured lithographic plates from pen and ink sketches (London: William Oliver, 3 Amen Corner, Paternoster Row. And all Booksellers, no date [1865]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

In Victorian London, women were either good or bad, wealthy or poor, public or private, lucky or out of luck. There was no in-between. While this lovely volume offers charming lithographic plates, it also highlights the lack of options for women at that time. A successful performer is seen “Coming out in the lime light” but at the end of the night “Going Home in the Rain.”

Gray’s work was enthusiastically advertised in the March 31st issue of The Bookseller (1865), which promoted the “magnificently-coloured lithographic plates, copied from the original coloured pen and ink sketches” designed and executed by William Gray. In the same issue, the editor comments,

Mr William Oliver, who has recently commenced business in Amen Corner, Paternoster Row, publishes a volume, which in its way, is the most striking thing we have seen since the appearance of George Cruikshank’s “Bottle”. It is by a new artist, William Gray, and is entitled “Social Contrasts” … All are thoughtful studies, and preach more impressive sermons on a painful subject, than even Mr. Spurgeon [Charles Spurgeon the noted preacher] or the Bishop of Oxford could deliver. Shall we add that like many other erring objects, the pictures in this volume are so pretty, that we look on them with great enjoyment’ (p. 157).

“the most striking thing we have seen since the appearance of Greoge Cruikshank’s Bottle”


George Cruikshank (1792-1878), The Bottle: in eight plates designed and etched by George Cruikshank (London: published for the author by David Bogue; New York: Wiley and Putnam; Sydney, New South Wales: J. Sands, 1847). Graphic Arts Collection Oversize Cruik 1847.6eq

Samples of the Peter Adams Company’s American Art Papers

Peter Adams Company, Samples of the Peter Adams Company’s American Art Papers made at the company’s Waverly Mills at Buckland, Conn. New York, 1893. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process

“The Waverly Mills were established by Peter Adams, at the village of Buckland, near the city of Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.A., in the year 1861,” wrote Henry H. Bowman in this 1893 paper sample book for the Mill, although other sources indicate Adams purchased the mill in 1863. The book continues:

“…Mr. Adams was born in Scotland, and there learned thoroughly, in all its branches, the business of paper making. His father died when he was very young. His parents were in very moderate circumstances, and the spirit of self-reliance and the restless energy that throughout his career overcame all obstacles to success, were manifested by him then, when, at the tender age of eight years, he commenced the work of making himself an adept in the art of paper making.

To this work he applied himself steadily until he became an expert paper maker in all the branches of the art. At the age of twenty-one years he came to America. He and three other young Scotchmen set up and operated, at Saugerties, N.Y., the first fourdrinier paper machine that was operated in America. He soon became superintendent of a paper mill, and thereafter his services were in constant requisition in that capacity until he entered int the business of paper making on his own.”


By 1884, Peter Adams (1807-1889) was known as one of the oldest and most successful paper manufacturers in the United States.


Note the specificity of this sample book: plate papers (8); chromolithographic plate papers (10) chart papers (2); map papers (6) and book papers (14). It is rare the printer of a chromolithograph, or other printed material, should credit the type of paper on which it’s printed for its quality but here the paper is shown with an actual chromolithograph, suggesting just that.






The importance of the Adams firm is demonstrated by their New York City offices, housed at 38 Park Row, in the eleven-story Potter Building commissioned by Orlando B. Potter and constructed in 1883-86 to replace Potter’s World Building, destroyed by fire in January 1882.

King’s Handbook mentions that there were two hundred offices in the Potter Building, “including those of several newspaper and periodical publishers, insurance and other companies, lawyers and professional men.” Among its newspaper tenants were the editorial and business offices of The Press, a popular penny newspaper founded in 1887 with ties to the Republican party, and the New York-Observer, the oldest American religious newspaper, started in 1823 and previously located in the World Building until the fire.

Other tenants included Peter Adams Co. and Adams & Bishop Co., manufacturers of fine papers for printing, maps, photography, etc.; the Mutual Reserve Fund Life Association, established in 1881 and the then largest assessment insurance firm in the world; the business offices of Otis Brothers & Co., manufacturers of elevators since 1855 and the leading maker of passenger elevators; the New York Architectural Terra Cotta Co. offices; and O.B. Potter himself, on the top floor.

The mill is now a restaurant, located along a popular hiking trail:

Sons of Africa designed by Aaron Douglas

The designs created by Aaron Douglas (1899-1979) for Georgina A. Gollock’s Sons of Africa (New York: Friendship Press, 1928) are simple and refined but add enormously to the beauty of the book’s first edition. Gollock compiled this collection of biographies of notable Africans, “including kings and chiefs of pre-modern times, characters of the early nineteenth century when Africa was coming to know the West, and recently living Christian leaders.” In the 19th century, the Sons of Africa was an abolitionist group composed of prominent Africans living in Britain, including Olaudah Equiano.


Chapters include: The discovery of the sons of Africa. The great Askia; a tale of Timbuktu. Osai Tutu Kwamina; from Kumasi to the coast. A Nigerian romance; the career of Bishop Crowther. Tshaka the Zulu; a black Napoleon. Moshesh the nation-builder. Khama the Good. Sir Apolo Kagwa; from page to prime minister. Where three continents meet; the life work of J.E. Kwegyir Aggrey. Men of affairs. Evangelists, pastors, teachers. Among the prophets. Mothers of men.


1928 was a pivotal year for Douglas, a pioneered the African-American modernism. He received a one-year Barnes Foundation Fellowship in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he studied the painting and African art collection of Albert C. Barnes. It was also the year Douglas participated in the seminal College Art Association exhibition entitled “Contemporary Negro Art.”




The book’s publisher, The Friendship Press, was at that time a branch of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, which produced an international array of progressive books, including Blind spots: experiments in the self-cure of race prejudice by Henry Smith Leiper; India looks to her future by Oscar MacMillan Buck; Young Islam on trek by Basil Mathews; and Aggrey of Africa: a study in Black and white by Edwin William Smith.


Princeton’s copy also includes the dust jacket, which reproduces the design printed on the front and back covers.

The irresistible “wow” factor of Charles LeDray’s Book Ends

The unpacking and opening of this new acquisition has been documented below to avoid any misunderstandings with our reading room or the reading public. Seen here is the latest in a continuing series of deluxe limited editions published for the Library Council of the Museum of Modern Art under its editor May Castleberry.

Over the past two years Charles LeDray, an artist known for creating collections made up of a multiplicity of carefully crafted and often very small objects, produced a collection of 177 unique “used” miniature books and this week, the Graphic Arts Collection received its unique edition of LeDray’s Book Ends.



Writing for the New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl observed, “The bite-size world of LeDray’s miniature sculptures is the real world scaled to thought—which, of course, must be compact enough to fit into our crowded skulls. . . . Beyond the irresistible “wow” factor of LeDray’s workaholic perfectionism, there’s a profound delight in grasping the quiddity of a specific mop or a lonesome cinder block. Even when the works are fanciful . . . they have the obduracy of righteous Minimalism, defying associations with the cute or the twee.” —

Here is a description from MoMA: “LeDray’s volumes are miniaturized, abridged, and altered versions of eighteen used books that the artist found in secondhand shops, yard sales, or on the streets of New York and his own library. The list of eighteen . . . recall and reveal the multiple histories and fragile aspirations and creations of another era. The artist’s constructed artifacts, seemingly marked by the passage of time, illuminate the journey of a set of books through the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

. . . To create miniature ephemera to be placed in each volume, he made over 1,500 drawings based on old bookplates, library cards and other printed or drawn pieces of his own invention that might have been inserted in a forgotten book. These pieces were printed by hand-letterpress by the Grenfell Press and by Peter Kruty Editions in Brooklyn.

. . . Each of these hand-sewn volumes measures less than four by five inches. Some are bound in cloth, some in paper; in all cases their covers have been foil stamped to replicate the covers of the original books. Working from LeDray’s drawings and mostly using letterpress, Miller and Ewing at the Grenfell Press, with the help of Peter Kruty Editions in Brooklyn, New York, printed over 1,100 pieces of ephemera, each unique.”


Of the 177 volumes, most of which went to the members of the Library Council, to libraries, and to the artist, 18 copies were set aside to make a unique sculptural set of 18 unique volumes as a gift from the artist to The Museum of Modern Art.



Read more about Charles LeDray:



Mame et Compagnie Bindings

One of the sad aspects in the history of our library, like many other institutional collections, is that many books and magazines were rebound as soon as they are purchased, discarding often decorative and even unique bindings. Although we already hold many books from the publishing firm of Mame et Compagnie or Mame et fils, we have acquired an additional set of ten volumes with their 19th-century French decorative paper bindings intact. Each has the original publishers’ colored embossed paper-covered boards, many with hand-colored lithograph inlays, some with school prize labels.


“The book then undergoes the binding in three workshops, magnificent in their arrangement and comfort, and in which are employed 260 men and 250 women and children.” This is the entire description of the Mame binding workshop given in the 1878 history of the Mame and Sons publishing company, entitled Firm of Alfred Mame and Sons (1796-1893): printing–binding–bookselling: patronal institutions: participation, A. Mame’s endowments, homes for working people, superannuation, mutual aid societies. The report offers little information on production of their books but concentrates on the civic engagement of the company, which promoted the health and well-being of its workers through stock participation, company housing, and other benefits.

“…The situation of the establishment in the centre of a city excluded the idea of giving gratuitous lodgings to the working people: a [site], Peabody’s buildings style, has been constructed, where 62 families are lodged in habitations completely isolated the one from the other, each having its little garden and forming a quadrangle around a vast square planted with trees” …The Firm of Alfred Mame…


The titles included in this group of decorative bindings
Louis Fridel, Les Naugrages au Spitzberg ou les Salutaires effets de la confiance en dieu. Neuvième édition. [Bibliothèque de la jeunesse chrétienne]. Tours: Mame, 1850.
Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Champagnac, Les Amies de Pension traduit de l’anglais. [Bibliothèque spéciale de la jeunesse]. Paris: P.C. LeHuby, [c. 1851].
Washington Irving, Voyages et découvertes des compagnons de Colomb… 4e édition. [Bibliothèque des écoles chrétiennes]. Tours: Mame, 1851.
Washington Irving, Voyages et découvertes des compagnons de Colomb… 7e édition. [Bibliothèque de la jeunesse chrétienne]. Tours: Mame, 1858.
Fanny, comtesse de Tilière, Laure et Anna ou la Puissance de la foi sur le caractère… sixième édition. [Bibliothèque de la jeunesse chrétienne]. Tours: Mame, 1859.
Jules Lacroix de Marlès, Histoire de Russie… nouvelle édition. [Bibliothèque des écoles chrétiennes].Tours: Mame, 1861.
Ernest Fouinet, Gerson ou le Manuscrit aux enluminures… dixième édition. [Bibliothèque de la jeunesse chrétienne]. Tours: Mame, 1866.
Anaïs, comtesse de Bassanville, La Gerbe. Rouen: Mégard et Compagnie, 1870.
Catherine-Thérèse Woillez, Le jeune Tambour… onzième édition. [Bibliothèque de la jeunesse chrétienne]. Tours, Mame et fils, 1872.
Contes arabes tirés des Mille et une nuits… Iere partie. [Bibliothèque de la jeunesse chrétienne]. Tours: Mame et fils, 1879.


The Catholic Encyclopedia published this biography of Alfred-Henry-Armand Mame (1811-1893)

“Alfred conceived and carried out, for the first time, the idea of uniting in the same publishing house, a certain number of workshops, grouping all the industries connected with the making of books: printing, binding, selling, and forwarding. By analogy with the great ironworks of Le Creusot, the Mame firm has been called the literary “Creusot”.

Mame was also one of the principal owners of the paper-mills of La Haye-Descartes; and it could thus be said that a book, from the time when the rags are transformed into paper up to the moment when the final binding is put on, passed through a succession of workers, all of whom were connected with Mame. Daily, as early as 1865, this publishing house brought out from three to four thousand kilograms of books; it employed seven hundred workers within and from four hundred to five hundred outside.

Inspired by the social Catholic ideal, Alfred Mame established for his employees a pension fund for those over sixty, wholly maintained by the firm. He opened schools, which caused him to receive one of the ten thousand francs awards reserved for the “établissements modèles où régnaient au plus haut degré l’harmonie sociale et le bien-être des ouvriers”. In 1874 Mame organized a system by which his working-men shared in the profits of the firm.”

Ida Saint-Elme, the Female Casanova

Ida Saint-Elme on the left, Daumier on the right

Ida Saint-Elme (née Maria Johanna Elselina Versfelt, 1776-1845), La caricature française. Journal sans abonnées et sans collaborateurs [= French Caricature. Journal without subscribers and collaborators] no I-XXV [= all published]. (London: Privately published, 1836). Bound with: Album de la correspondance du prince émigré. Londres, privately published. Imprimerie de Schulze et Cie 1836. Bound with: Portrait d’Alibaud, avec sa défense interrompue par les pairs et des confidences sur sa vie intime, d’une jeune francaise, publié par Mme. Ida St. Elme, 1836. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process


The Dutch writer, explorer, and actress Maria Johanna Elselina Versfelt (1778-1845) was also known as Ida Saint-Elme; Elzelina av Aylde Jonghe; and by her pseudonym La Contemporaine. The Getty’s union list of artist names adds: Elzélina van Aylde Jonghe and Elzélina Tolstoy van Aylde-Jonghe.

Her moniker “the Female Casanova” came after she published her eight volume memoir Mémoires d’une contemporaine, 1827-28 [recap 1509.178.7913], which emphasized her romantic adventures. Perhaps to escape this celebrity, she spent the next few years sailing the Nile and exploring Egypt, publishing a six-part travelogue La Contemporaine en Egypt.

Later, while working as a manuscript dealer in London, she also published a satirical magazine modeled after Charles Philipon‘s La caricature, which she called La caricature francaise. Journal sans abonnées et sans collaborateurs. This is possibly the earliest satirical magazine written, illustrated, and published by a woman. However she stole many images directly from Philipon’s magazine, such as her copy of Honoré Daumier’s 1833 lithograph “Ah ! Tu veux te frotter à la presse !” from La Caricature.


“One of the most unusual results of the September Laws was the founding in March 1836 of a French caricature journal in exile, La Caricature Françoise. It was published anonymously (by the Bonapartist intriguer Ida Saint-Elme) in London, in order to escape censorship, at an office it dubbed “The Crowned Pear.” This new extremely rare tabloid-sized weekly, which lasted only six months, consisted of four pages of text and included on the title page a woodcut caricature which was often copied from drawing previously published in Philipon’s journals.” –Robert Justin Goldstein, Censorship of Political Caricature in Nineteenth-century France, 1989.

“The magazine contained letters from the king, whether or not forged, which ridiculed him. In April 1841 this led to a legal process against Versfelt, the so-called “Procès des lettres”. But the court could not prove that the published letters were actually falsified and Versfelt was therefore not convicted. But many English prominent people considered her a forger. After this Versfelt left for Belgium, where she would live until her death in 1845. She died on 19 May 1845, blind and penniless, in a hospice in Brussels. She was buried in an anonymous grave.” ~ Enne Koops

Dictionnaire de botanique

Dictionnaire de botanique: 3 vols, folio (340 × 200 mm), containing a total of more than 1200 leaves (Belgium?, ca. 1920s). Graphic Arts Collection 2020- in process

A few weeks ago, we posted some images from the massive four volume hand-drawn, hand-written tome by an unknown amateur scientist. Today, we post a few more specifically from the unique, three volume set labeled Dictionnaire de botanique.

Assumed to be the life work of a Belgian naturalist, this extraordinary collection documents and illustrates animal and plant biology, fossil records, cell growth, poisonous plant and germ genealogy, human evolution, insect patterns, and more.

Should it be studied for its scientific presentations? Is it worth the time it would take to research the 1,200 pages of French text and images? Does it make legitimate claims for or against Darwin and other experts? We will continue to share this material, in the hope that someone will recognize its sources or present new theories on its creation.




With sincere thanks to Eduardo Cadava, Professor of English, and an Associate Member of the Department of Comparative Literature, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the School of Architecture, the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, and the Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies, the Graphic Arts Collection has acquired a wide variety of artists’ books and photobooks from the Athens collective known as VOID. According to their website:

“Created in October 2016, Void is a non profit organization focused on alternative publishing, exhibitions and education. Our goal is to engage in a series of projects around photography and other visual arts. We are open to new ideas, and you are more than welcome to get involved and be part of our projects. It’s our goal to make Void a platform for exchanging ideas with people living both in Greece and abroad. We have collaborated with many Greek and International photographers and institutions like American Suburb X, ISSP, Athens Photo Festival, Istanbul Photobook Festival, Lucy Art Residency, PHmuseum, LensCulture among others. If you feel like reading more about Void, here you find a nice feature by Cat Lachowskyj for LensCulture.”

The titles come in all shapes and sizes and formats including a variety of bindings, papers, and electrical devices. Each author appears to have designed their own. To see more information, check out the website where each project is described in detail.

As with several other acquisitions, this order was made long before the virus hit everyone but it was worth waiting for. Please note they are welcoming new projects and portfolios:

“Void is a small but very passionate team, formed by only 3 overworking members, struggling hard to deliver the best results to the projects that are already in-house. For this reason, be patient. If we fall in love with your project, you will know it. One day. But you will. Now, send us that PDF. We are as curious as busy.”

This is just a tiny sample of the 3 dozen or so publications received.

Die Heilige Lanze = The Holy Lance

Johann Friedrich Fleischberger (baptised 1631-buried 1665), Eigentliche Abbildung deẞ Speers mit welchem unsererm Heiland Jesu seine heilige Seite eröffnet worden … J. F. Fleischb[erger] sculp. [Nuremberg], Johann Friedrich Fleischberger [for] W.V., [c. 1660]. Graphic Arts Collection 2020- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a small engraved broadside of the Holy Lance as kept in Nuremberg, surrounded by explanatory calligraphic text and scale measurements. The text that comes with it from the dealer is quoted here:

A rare illustrated broadside which celebrates the Holy Lance not only as a relic and a powerful component of the Imperial Regalia, but also – crucially – points out its historic archaeological importance as an antique weapon. The broadside was commissioned by an as yet unidentified art and armor collector, ‘W.V.’ who asked the Nuremberg engraver J. F. Fleischberger (baptised 1631, buried 1665) to copy it, to scale in reduced form, and adorned its illustration with explanatory text. The text gives a short historical overview about the importance of the Holy Lance, and ends with the note that the broadside was commissioned and paid for by an admirer and collector of old armor, ‘Solchen hat nun ein Liebhaber der Alten Waffen vorstellen lassen nach dem verjüngten Maẞstab’ [= A lover of old weapons has now had such a thing introduced according to the reduced standard’].

The Holy Lance was believed to have been used by the Roman centurion Longinus to probe and pierce the side of Christ when he hung on the cross, to ascertain his death. It is a relic of immense symbolism and power and is considered one the most important pieces of the Imperial Regalia. The Holy Roman Emperors came into possession of the Holy Lance in the 10th century, and in 1424 it was given by Emperor Sigismund to Nuremberg (to be kept there in perpetuity) and was kept there as part of the Imperial Regalia used in subsequent Imperial coronations. It was only moved to Vienna (where it is still kept in the Imperial Treasury) when the French Revolutionary troops threatened Nuremberg in 1796.


In addition, our rare book division acquired an uncommon dissertation by the Nuremberg lawyer Spies (1710-1778) on the importance of the Holy Lance in Nuremberg as part of the Imperial Regalia rather than as a relic. The Praeses, or thesis advisor, was the historian Johann David Köhler (1684-1755), professor in Altdorf since 1711, first of Logic then History, and whose supervised dissertations are regarded as important contributions to scholarly discourse. See below:

Wolfgang Spies. Dissertatio historico-critica de Imperiali Sacra Lancea non inter reliqvias Imperii sed clinodia referenda: cvm problemate de novo S. R. I. officio archi-lanciferatv / Qvam svb moderamine magnifici Academiae Rectoris domini Iohannis Davidis Koeleri P. P. Altdorf, Daniel Meyer, December 1731. Rare Books EX 2020- in process


The Holy Lance, displayed in the Imperial Treasury at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna, Austria.
Die Heilige Lanze = The Holy Lance. Karolingisch, 8. Jahrhundert Stahl, Eisen, Messing, Silber, Gold, Leder 50,7 cm lang. Carolingian, 8th century Steel, iron, brass, silver, gold, leather 50.7 cm long.

See also:


The British Museum has:
“The relics, vestments, and insignia of the Holy Roman Empire; in the centre of the print is the lance of St Maurice with inscription at its top; to the left and right of the spear are other relics in five rows, all accompanied by an inscription. Woodcut with hand-colouring , Nuremberg, 1470-1480. Inscription in six lines, accompanying the lance: “Dz ist dz sper domit xpo sein heilig seite ward auff gethan und der nagel dr xpo in sein rechten hand geschlage ward.”

“The Imperial Regalia and relics repicted in this print were preserved from 1424-1796 in the Heilig-Geist Kirche in Nuremberg, and were exhibited on the Feast of the Holy Lance on the Helitumsstuhl in the marketplace across from the Frauenkirche. Some of the objects were lost in the removal from Nuremberg during French occupation; the others are kept in the Schatzkammer in Vienna. Descriptions of them were printed in book-form in Nuremberg in 1487 and 1493 and it is highly likely that this print was also published in Nuremberg. Apart from the lance of St Maurice, the representations of the objects are stylised and do not resemble their originals.”