Category Archives: Acquisitions

new acquisitions

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.


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.

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.


Grant Strudwick’s Black Power ABC’s and much more

The Graphic Arts Collection has acquired a small selection from Tia Blassingame’s collection of modern prints, artist’s books, and zines by Black artists. As the director of Primrose Press (and a member of Princeton Class of 1993), Blassingame is intimately acquainted with many of the Black artists, printers, writers, and authors producing work in the United States. Through her assistance and scholarship, we hope to fill Princeton’s rare book vault with important limited editions by these talented artists.

It is our goal to make this the first of a continuing, perhaps annual, acquisition program. Most titles discuss the experience of being Black or explore some aspect of African American history, while others are brimming with bold, beautiful images.

The 2021 collection includes 41 artists’ books and zines, along with 7 prints/broadsides. Some of the artists represented are Antonio Benjamin, Maya Beverly, Lukaza Branfman-Verussimo, Brianna Rose Brooks, Diasporan Savant Press, Kimberly Enjoli, Jen White Johnson, William Lofton, Arial Robinson, Clarissa Sligh, Grant Strudwick, and of course, Tia Blassingame.

Highlighted here, just for fun, are two of the alphabets: Grant Strudwick’s Black Power ABC’s Card Set [above] and [below] Arial Robinson’s Modern Day Black Alphabet.

All these new acquisition will be catalogued and available for classes beginning in a few weeks. Our sincere thanks to Tia.

Vivicolor inserts for college yearbooks 1930

Berté Water Colour Printing. Vivicolor Inserts (Buffalo: Vivicolor Company, 1930). Also acquired 1929 edition and Jean Berté Water Colour Inks (Belleville, NJ: Wallace & Tiernan Products, ca. 1929). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process

Pochoir (stencil) printing makes beautiful color images but is expensive and difficult to master. To get the same look in less time Jean Berté (1883-1981) patented an innovative process that used rubber plates and water-based inks printed letterpress. Beginning in 1926, he sold dozens of licenses in the United States along with equipment, inks, and presses specifically designed for this process. In Europe, where pochoir was still preferred, few printers even tried the new method.

It is difficult to know which companies bought a license to the process for their own use and which Berté himself directed. The Vivicolor Company in Buffalo began producing Berté color plates for various uses, including inserts or sectional title pages for college yearbooks. Each sheet has a one-word heading such as Activities; Administration; Advertising; etc., along with an image designed around a particular theme. In 1930 you could choose from 13 different series such as Colonial American, Indian, Modernistic, Ultra-Modern, Moorish, Grecian, Alma Mater, Medieval, and Louis XIV.

Some of the artists hired to design these series included John Held Jr., Bertram Glover, Ellsworth Jaeger, and Norman Kent among others. Vivicolor guaranteed that “no two schools within 25 miles of each other would have the same inserts.”

Here are some details from John Held Jr.’s series with the full plate and text cropped to focus on the printed image.




Engravings by Suor Isabella Piccini (1644–1734)

For several years, the Graphic Arts Collection has been adding Venetian books with engravings by Isabella Puccini. Adding them one at a time.

Thanks to the extended collecting of David Rueger, Antiquariat INLIBRIS, Vienna, Princeton now holds 60 titles containing engravings signed and identified as Piccini’s, the vast majority from her lifetime. As the picture above illustrates they represent a wide variety of physical formats, as well as subject matter. There are both secular and religious commissions including medicine, history, law, and pageantry as well as theology and devotion.

Rueger mentions he took particular care to select items poorly represented in institutional holdings; 22 of our new acquisitions were not currently recorded in any American library. Here is a brief list by author and an annotated list by chronology. All scholarship goes to Rueger.
Piccini inventory short by name

Piccini inventory chronological

Within these books are approximately 257 engravings attributable to Piccini, plus one unbound sheet. It is our hope that Princeton University Library will become a destination collection for the study of female engravers, as well as Venetian illustrated books. Perhaps this acquisition will even inspire someone to write the definitive catalogue raisonné of this important artist’s work.

Not with frail chisels, brushes, or pens
Does she work, who lives in a humble convent,
But in pure metal creates immortal works,
She paints with a skilled hand, she engraves, and she writes.


Princeton’s collection begins in 1663 when, at the age of 19, Piccini pulled her first known engraving. In her early twenties, she became a novitiate of a Franciscan convent and took the nom de religion Isabella. Note, our collection does not include the work with the signature ‘I. Piccini’ which belonged to her father, Jacopo Piccini. Rueger comments:

Other nuances also become apparent: for example, the frontispiece to the 1669 La Ricreatione Del Savio In Discorso Con La Natura is signed simply ‘Piccini f.’ However, we know that Isabella was professed as a nun in 1666, and subsequently (as illustrated in the present collection) shifted her signature to reflect her religiosity. Instead, the 1669 frontispiece of the Ricreatione del Savio must be the work of Jacopo Piccini. Nevertheless, this frontispiece is commonly attributed in institutional records to Isabella, based solely on the ‘Piccini’ signature. Such indications start to become clear only when a critical mass of examples can be gathered in one place, as we hope to have done with the present collection.

One of the most exciting inclusions in the present collection is a book fully illustrated by Piccini relatively early in her career: “Memorie Funeste de’ Fatti Dolorosi occorsi nella Passione amarissima dell’ Unigenito Figlio di Dio” (1682) [seen above] which was subsequently ordered to be burned. Although recorded as such in the Index, we have been unable to trace another surviving copy. Needless to say, the book’s engravings have never been acknowledged as Piccini’s work before, but shed remarkable light on the nun’s willingness to undertake projects with notoriously suspect publishers like Giovanni Giacomo Hertz and authors like Michele Cicogna.




See also:
Luisa Di Vaio, “Suor Isabella Piccini,” in Grafica d’arte. Milano, 2003.

Anna Francesca Valcanover, “Contributi ad una storia del libro illustrato veneto: suor Isabella Piccini,” in Biblioteche venete. Abamo Terme, 1985.

Bellarmino Bagatti, “Un’ artista francescana del bulino: Suor Isabella Piccini,” in Studi francescani. Firenze, 1931.

For more biography, see the entry in the Enciclopedia delle donne:

In Medias Res


Was it fate that brought the package from Dublin to the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton exactly on Bloomsday, June 16, 2021, or just good planning? In the midst of the annual celebration for James Joyce’s Ulysses, we acquired a special limited edition copy of In Medias Res, The Ulysses Maps, A Dublin Odyssey. The portfolio is comprised of seven drypoints by David Lilburn—Phoenix Park, The Quays, O’Connell St., Loop Bridge, Eccles Street, Coastline, Howth—which together form a map of a large part of Dublin and its environs. In particular, they include the areas of the city that feature prominently in Ulysses.


Hand-printed from zinc plates on Hahnemuhle paper, each sheet has additions of chine collé and watercolor applied by the artist. The publishers write:

“Constructed from a multiplicity of drawn marks and viewpoints, the work is packed with references to the topography of Dublin and plots fragments, characters, anecdotes, conversations, historical events and classical allusions all mentioned or implicit in the text. The work enables the viewer to orientate himself or herself within Dublin as it appears in Ulysses and as it is today and to follow the routes taken by various characters in Ulysses as they crisscross the city throughout 16th June 1904.”

While they can be exhibited in sequence, the artist composed each individual print so that it would also function as a completely self-contained image. All seven prints are reproduced on the artist’s website, so we are posting only a few spectacular details from this complex work. Special thanks to Stoney Road Press for their help in the acquisition.




It is with sadness that we learned the artist, David Lilburn, passed away on Wednesday last (July 28, 2021) after a brief period of illness. Lilburn studied history at Trinity College, University of Dublin, 1969-73; lithography at Scuole istituto statale d’arte, Urbino 1973; and art & design at Limerick School of Art and Design (LSAD), Limerick Institute of Technology, 1980-83. Together with Jim Savage, he was also an occasional publisher. Here is a bibliography from his Occasional Press (apologies if I’m missing some):

A Connemara folio: a Ballynahinch sketchbook / Teskey, Donald, artist. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2011

An afterglow: a gallery of Connemara poems / Lally, Des.; Fallon, Peter, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2010

Ballynahinch postcards: poems / Fallon, Peter, 1951- Aghabullogue, Co. Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, 2007

Being there: an introduction to the work of Joe Wilson / Wilson, Joe; Dunne, Aidan. [Aghabullogue, Co. Cork]: Occasional Press in association with the West Cork Arts Centre, 2006

Berger on drawing / Berger, John, author.; Savage, Jim. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press, 2005, 2007, 2008.

Fountainstown / Cross, Dorothy, 1956-; Cross, Dorothy, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press, in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2012

In Connemara: O’Dea, Mick, 1958-; Savage, Jim. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in a collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2017

Into the mountains: images from the Twelve Bens / Wilson, Joe, 1947- artist.; Tóibín, Colm; Savage, Jim. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in a collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2014

John by Jean: fifty years of friendship: photos of John Berger / Mohr, Jean, photographer. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press, 2016

Montenotte / Cross, Dorothy, 1956-; Cross, Dorothy, Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press, in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2012

Pony / Curtis, Tony, 1955- author.; Lilburn, David, Aghabullogue, County Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press, 2013, ©2013

The Celtic zoo: a report back on the state of modern Ireland in 24 satirical watercolour drawings / Fitzgerald, Tom, 1939- artist.; Dorgan, Theo. Aghabullogue, County Cork: Occasional Press, 2014

The idea of islands / Hubbard, Sue.; Teskey, Donald. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press, 2010

This flight tonight: Captain John Alcock & Lieutenant Arthur Whitten Brown’s non-stop transatlantic flight from Newfoundland to Ireland 14th-15th June 1919 / Curtis, Tony, 1955- author.; Lilburn, David, Aghabullogue, County Cork, Ireland: Occasional Press in collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle, 2019

Walking drawing making memory: a Ballynahinch sketchbook / Lilburn, David, artist. Aghabullogue, Co. Cork: Occasional Press in a collaboration with Ballynahinch Castle Hotel, 2009


Visualizing the Virus

Visualizing the Virus was founded and is led by Dr Sria Chatterjee, an art historian and environmental humanities scholar who received her PhD from the department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton in 2019. It is made possible by a grant from DARIAH EU and support from the Institute of Experimental Design and Media, FHNW. Princeton Center for Digital Humanities is a project partner.

They have a wide network of collaborators and are particularly grateful to the Max-Planck Kunsthistorisches Institute, the University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda, the Department of History at Princeton University, PACE Center for Civic Engagement at Princeton for their collaborations.

The project goes beyond the media narratives around Covid-19. They write:

Visualizing the Virus is an interdisciplinary digital project through which one can visualize and understand the Coronavirus pandemic from a variety of perspectives. It aims to center the inequalities the pandemic makes visible. Gaps between the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences are hard to bridge. This means that pandemics are often studied without considering their many interconnected histories. Visualizing the Virus connects insights from different disciplines to create a collective digital space for exactly such a convergence. We are not only interested in the ways in which scientists, artists and people in their everyday lives have made the virus visible; but also in processes, historical and contemporary, that the viruses make visible – inequalities, be it of access to resources and healthcare, vaccine imperialism, xenophobia, gender inequalities, and so on.

If you would like to participate by collaborating and/or contributing to the project, they would love to hear from you. Our Graphic Arts webinar and acquisitions played a small part, with thanks to Ellen Ambrosone.

 Dulari Devi, Corona Effect in Patna, 2020. Acrylic on paper. Purchased with funds from South Asian Studies and Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process