Category Archives: Acquisitions

new acquisitions



veniceFine press book collectors around the world have been waiting many months for the new volume being produced at Whittington Press. This week, online comments have been springing up throughout social media sites as individuals finally received and opened their mail containing Venice.


John Craig, Venice; with 35 of his wood engravings (Risbury, Herefordshire: Whittington Press, 2016). Copy 44 of 150 in Pirate leather. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) in process

John Randle notes, “The 80 wood-engravings, and some linocuts, some with colour, have made the book a printer’s challenge. John Craig’s use of white space has, as with Britten’s Aldeburgh (2000) and The Locks of the Oxford Canal (1985), been critical, and the asymmetric imposition of type and images is based upon his precise layouts. The resulting double-page spreads can be seen almost as a series of stage sets, introducing us to the often undiscovered delights of a city which he has visited regularly for the past twenty years.

The French-fold binding style is a new departure for us. The pages are left folded at the top edge, enabling us to use a lightweight Zerkall mould-made paper, specially hot-pressed to give an extra sheen for the engravings, and allowing us to print throughout on the smooth side of the paper only.”




The book begins: “This collection of engraved illustrations is by, and for, a Venice amateur. I offer an apology; so much has been produced on the subject that one is wary of taking up yet more space on the shelf . . . and yet . . . there is some impulse that drives people to express, explain, pin down something that no other city possesses. With this in mind – (as Robert Graves puts it) ‘one still stands ready, with a boy’s presumption,/ To court the queen in her high silk pavilion’.

There is (or was) in Venice a bookshop as big as a small house that sells only ‘Venice’ books in which all the history, architecture, paintings, sculpture and topography are most expertly covered by the best authors—living and dead—the competition is enormous. For this reason I have chosen to ignore the better known set pieces and illustrated as an innocent holiday maker wandering—open mouthed—without plan or guide through the small and less known parts of the city.”


Ladies of Letterpress

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“Ladies of Letterpress” was founded in late 2007 and their website opened to the public in January of 2009. It states: “Ladies of Letterpress is an international trade organization for letterpress printers and print enthusiasts. Our mission is to promote the art and craft of letterpress printing and to encourage the voice and vision of women printers. We strive to maintain the cultural legacy of fine press printing while advancing it as a living, contemporary art form as well as a viable commercial printing method. Membership is open to both men and women. This is a community where you can read about our adventures in commercial, fine press, art and zine printing, ask for advice and learn from other printers, share resources, and get inspiration for your own business and work — all for the love of letterpress.”


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Last year the organization published a huge volume documenting each individual member and offering readers 86 removable posters to enjoy in the book or frame for the wall. This is an important addition to the informative already on the website, which includes videos, activities, jobs, discussions, and publications. A national conference will be held in September. Consider joining!


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Kseniya Thomas and Jessica White, Ladies of Letterpress (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2015). Graphic Arts GA2016- in process

Souvenir serviette

coronation napkinThanks to the generous donation of Nancy Armstrong, the Graphic Arts Collection is the proud new owner of a souvenir serviette (paper napkin) from the coronation of King Edward VII, held August 9, 1902. Our collection holds a small number of similar British souvenirs, chiefly from the 1902 event. A few others are posted here:

The napkin has a printed border of red, white and green with the words to the national anthem in the center square. “You are requested,” notes the printed text, “to join in singing ‘The National Anthem’ after dinner,” leading us to believe that this particular napkin was handed out free of charge to attendees of the coronation dinner rather than sold by street hawkers at the price of one penny. According to Michael Twyman, the printing was done by a few London firms who specialized in this genre, including S. Burgess of the Strand and Mathews of Hoxton (this sheet gives no indication of its printer). Thanks to Ms. Armstrong for her contribution to our collection.

The specimen book to end all specimen books

Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813), Manuale tipografico del cavaliere Giambattista Bodoni (Parma: Presso la Vedova, 1818). 2 volumes, frontispiece portrait engraved by Francesco Rosaspina after a painting by Andrea Appiani; 33 cm. 250 type specimens designed and cut by Bodoni in Latin, Greek, German, Hebrew, Russian and numerous other languages. One of approximately 290 copies. Purchased with funds provided by the Friends of the Princeton University Library and the Graphic Arts Collection. GA 2016- in process


Thanks to the Friends of the Princeton University Library, we are the proud owner of the second and final edition of Giambattista Bodoni’s Manual tipografico. This much enlarged edition of his 1788 specimen book represents the culmination of more than four decades of work by one of Italy’s greatest typographers, type-designers, compositors, printers, and publishers. Universally celebrated as a “libro importantissimo” (Brooks), “ouvrage magnifique” (Graesse), “an imposing tour de force” (Updike), and “the specimen book to end all specimen books” (Lester), it was surprising to find this pivotal study had been missing from Princeton University Library.


David Pankow, for his introduction to the 1998 DVD, wrote, “The Manuale Tipografico of Giambattista Bodoni has been called the greatest type specimen book ever printed. Issued posthumously in 1818 at Parma by Bodoni’s devoted widow Margherita, the two-volume work contains a dazzling array of 142 roman alphabets with corresponding italics, . . . the culmination of more than forty years of assiduous devotion by Bodoni to the typographic arts, both in his capacity as printer to the Duke of Parma and as proprietor of his own private press and type foundry.”


No facsimile or DVD can truly replace the original printed pages of this typographic milestone and the acquisition of Bodoni’s 1818 Manuale closes a significant gap in our collection on the history of printing. Bodoni’s introduction of what were considered exotic typefaces—Hebrew, Greek, Russian, Arabic, Coptic, Armenian, Phoenician, and Tibetan alphabets—is essential to the study of European history and publishing.

“Bodoni’s Manuale is a crucial document,” writes Thomas Keenan, Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies Librarian, “of the introduction to the West and the first attempts at standardization in the West of the non-Roman scripts of Russia, Eastern Europe and the territories of the present-day Former Soviet Republics, and most particularly of the Cyrillic alphabets used in Russian and other Slavic languages, and the Georgian and Armenian scripts.”



The Water of the Wondrous Isles

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William Morris (1834-1896), The Water of the Wondrous Isles (Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1897). Limited ed. of 250 copies printed on paper. Cf. Peterson. “Printed at the Kelmscott Press … The borders and ornaments were designed entirely by William Morris, except the initial words Whilom & Empty, which were completed from his unfinished designs by R. Catterson-Smith …”–Colophon. Original full limp vellum with silk ties, lettered in gilt on spine. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2016- in process


water of the wondrous2A heliogravure portrait of William Morris is tipped in as a frontispiece, engraved by Frederick John Jenkins (1872-1929), after a negative by Elliott & Fry (active 1863-1962), published 1895.


water of the wondrousThe copy of The Water of the Wondrous Isles recently acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection was once owned by Sydney Ansell Gimson (1860-1938), with a bookplate on the front pastedown designed by his brother Ernest Gimson (1864-1919). Primarily a furniture and wallpaper designer, Ernest was an early member of the Art-Workers’ Guild and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

This might be his only attempt at a bookplate design. He gave his brother two options, writing “I have done what I can with the book plates and send you the result. They are neither of them satisfactory… I don’t understand designing for reduction. And it would require a more microscopic eye than mine to draw it real size.”


water of the wondrous3To read the entire text, in this edition, see

“In this magical setting,” writes literary historian Holly Ordway, “Morris gives us a characterization that subverts contemporary cultural norms for female behavior at a time in Victorian England when women agitated for the right to vote and equality before the law. What makes it even more complex is the issue of Birdalone’s beauty. In her world of brave knights, evil witches, and magical quests, it’s expected that damsels will be lovely. In this setting, to be the subversive character that she is without being beautiful would suggest that her independence is a compensatory mechanism, and that with physical attractiveness to fall back on she would be more traditional. As it is, her beauty seems irrelevant, making the point beauty is not a prerequisite to love, be loved, and be an individual as Birdalone is.”– “Subverting the Female Stereotype: William Morris’s The Water of the Wondrous Isles,” by Holly E. Ordway, Associate Professor, MiraCosta College

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The author and designer, William Morris, died in 1896 before the printing of his novel was finished and so, the book was published by the members of Morris’s estate. Enormously popular, OCLC lists 85 editions of the book from 1897-2016.
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16 bookSeveral years in the making, the Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to acquire copy 84/150 of the fine press, limited edition entitled 16, published at the centenary of Dublin’s 1916 Rising.

Stoney Road Press, An Post, and Poetry Ireland collaborated to produce this book, which includes four contemporary poems by Harry Clifton, Vona Groarke, Paula Meehan, and Paul Muldoon, alongside eight historical texts.

In addition, Stoney Road Press commissioned four limited edition prints by Irish artists Michael Canning, Alice Maher, Brian O’Doherty, and Kathy Prendergast. The Irish literary scholar, Professor Declan Kiberd, provides the introduction. More information on the project can be found at

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A special program on RTE radio with historian Declan Kiberd, Maureen Kennelly of Poetry Ireland, and publisher Kieran Owens was broadcast last March but it can still be hear at the above link.

Paul Muldoon, Princeton University’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities; Director, Princeton Atelier; and Professor of Creative Writing reads his own poem in Irish and Kennelly reads her translation in English.

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See also W.J. McCormack, Enigmas of sacrifice: a critique of Joseph M. Plunkett and the Dublin Insurrection of 1916 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, [2016]). Firestone Library (F) DA962 .M243 2016

A selection from Easter, 1916
W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

1869 Eclipse Photographed

eclipse 1869John C. Browne (1838-1918), Solar Eclipse Expedition, 1869. print from collodion on glass negative. (c) George Eastman House 75:0130:0071

In June 1869, Edward L. Wilson, editor of The Philadelphia Photographer, was appointed a member of the Solar Eclipse Expedition under the leadership of Prof. Henry Jackson Morton (1836-1902). Throughout the summer, members of the exposition trained in Philadelphia and on August 2, drove to Iowa to observe and hopefully photograph a total eclipse. There were three observation sites in Iowa for the August 7 event. John C. Browne (1838-1918) was at the Ottumwa site and made an exposure of their camp [above].

According to the Reports of Observations of the Total Eclipse of the Sun, August 7 1860, “At Mount Pleasant, Iowa, 28 miles to the westward, on the Burlington and Missouri Railway, were stationed: Prof, James C. Watson, director of Ann Arbor Observatory, University of Michigan, for astronomical observations; Prof J. M, Van Vleck, of the Wesleyan University, Middletown, Conn., for spectroscopic observations; Prof. Henry Morton, Ph.D,, of the Franklin Institutes in Philadelphia, in charge of the photographic party, with Mr. Edward L. Wilson, of Philadelphia, as photographer.”

eclipse 1869bHenry Jackson Morton (1836-1902) and party, “Four Views of the Solar Eclipse, August 1869,” in The Philadelphia Photographer 6, no.69 (September 1869), frontispiece.

In the September issue of The Philadelphia Photographer, Wilson published a composite photograph taken from four negatives made in Iowa only two week earlier. With the albumen silver print, he wrote,

“The late Solar Eclipse was an event which was heralded and predicted many years ago, but during the past year has attracted very great attention. The special attention of photographers has been called to it, as a subject of great interest for the camera, and we are glad to know that good and interesting results followed. The idea of making photographs of the great sources of light himself, particularly when he was partially or totally deprived of his power, had a charm about it which many found it impossible to overcome. …

Our friend Dr. Vogel, whom it will be remembered, secured the best photographs of the 1868 eclipse, awakened a desire in us to emulate him, so we joined Prof. Morton in his plans and efforts to organize a party for the purpose. During the last Session of Congress, an appropriation of five thousand dollars was made for the expenses of photographing and observing the eclipse. This was placed in the hands of Prof. J. H. C. Coffin, head of the Nautical Almanac Office, W.S.N., who taking charge of the Astronomical department himself, authorized Prof. Henry Morton, Ph.D., to make up the photographic branch and take charge of the same. This Prof. Morton undertook. …

Early on Monday morning, August 2d, the entire party started form this city in a handsome new car, fresh from the shops of the Pennsylvania Central Railroad company, at Altoona, which, on the way out was shifted from one road to the other, until our destination was reached … With the University telescope, were Prof. Morton and ourselves, in charge of the instrument, and Messrs. H.M. Clifford. James Cremer and W.V. Ranger, as photographers. We were also joined by Mr. John Carbutt of Chicago as a volunteer, who gave us most efficient aid in our manipulations….

We were now told by the astronomers that the moon would soon reach the sun. Plates were prepared at once ready to get a picture of first contact. Prof. Watson was to signal us by lifting his hand at the moment. Our plate was in the camera and the slide drawn, while we watched for the signal. Up went the hand; click! went the stop and the first exposure was made, the plate showing on development the least contact, looking like the impression made upon an apple by the thumb when testing its ripeness. Negatives were then made at intervals of five to ten minutes until totality took place and after totality until the eclipse was ended and over.”

Additional reports were printed in The Philadelphia Photographer from Henry Morton; Edward Curtis (assistant surgeon U.S. Army); J. H. C. Coffin; John Whipple; and several others. Following the expedition in 1869, Morton received an honorary Ph.D. from Dickinson College and in 1871, Princeton University also recognize Morton’s accomplishments with an honorary degree.

Additional prints from the eclipse are found in: Reports on Observations of the Total Eclipse of the Sun, August, 7, 1869 (Washington, Govʾt print. off., 1870). Lithographs by J. Bien and J. F. Gedney. (GAX) Oversize 2003-0133Q
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Nap Poems published by the Letterpress Club

nap poems4Congratulations to the members of the Princeton University Letterpress Club who printed and published their first limited edition, fine press poetry book, entitled Nap Poems. The Graphic Arts Collection is proud to receive copy 5 of 30 for Rare Books and Special Collections, a few pages of which are shown here.

The edition was set at the Typography Studio located in the Lewis Center for the Arts, 185 Nassau Street. Monica Youn, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Michael Dickman, and Ben Lerner from Creative Writing at the Center graciously donated the poems, which were printed on a Vandercook SP20 proof press using Bixler’s Garamond type.

Members of the Letterpress Club who spent the spring semester producing Nap Poems include Jazmyn Blackburn, Class of 2019; Joyce Lee, Class of 2017; Zachary Liu, Class of 2018; Shefali Nayak, Class of 2018; Duc Nguyen, Class of 2017; Kennedy Poore, Class of 2018; and Jonathan Zong, Class of 2018. Peter Kazantsev was the letterpress studio technician for the Lewis Center.

Here are a few pictures from the Club’s open house last year:
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nap poemsFor more information about classes and events at the Lewis Center, see:
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Stammbaum des Königlichen Hauses Bayern

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ancestry chart4 Stammbaum des Königlichen Hauses Bayern = Family Tree of the Royal House of Bavaria (München: Michael Masson, 1855). Hand colored lithograph in 12 parts (each 550 x 520 mm), mounted on linen, measuring together: 2200 x 1550 mm. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2006- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection holds several large format family trees, printed in an almost life-size tree. This one depicts the ancestry of the Bavarian Royal House, lithographed by the Wild’sche Firm in Munich.

At the bottom of the trunk is Ernst I, Herzog von Bayern-München (1373-1438) and at the very top of the tree sits Ludwig II (Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm, 1845-1886), who was King of Bavaria from 1864 until his death in 1886. This was after the printing of our chart and so, Ludwig doesn’t yet have a crown on his name.
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See also: and

Picasso and Iliazd

picasso13Iliazd (Ilya Zdanevich, 1894-1975), Pirosmanachvili 1914 (Paris: Le Degré 41, 1972). Original vellum binding, with yellow dust-wrapper and preserved in publisher’s beige cloth chemise and slipcase. Presentation copy from Iliazd’s last wife to Chota Takaishvili. One of 78 copies printed on Japon ancien paper, signed in red pencil on the colophon by Iliazd and with the original etching signed by Picasso, printed by Atelier Lacourière Frélaut. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

picasso11“It was something of a secret after World War II that one of the most rewarding people in Paris was a man who liked to be addressed simply as Iliazd,” wrote John Russell for the New York Times. “He was known—when known at all—as the architect, designer and publisher of illustrated books in which, one after another, the great surviving names of the School of Paris played a part.” Russell goes on to assert that Iliazd excelled “as poet, geographer, book designer, mountain climber, printer, publisher, fabric designer for Sonia Delaunay and Coco Chanel, pioneer dismantler of language, idiosyncratic stage performer and organizer in the early 1920’s of some of the last of the great classic artists’ balls.” All true.



picasso2Born Ilia Zdanevitch in Tiflis, Georgia, Iliazd (1894-1975) was a founding member of the Russian Futurists. Like many of his contemporaries, the artist eventually made his way to Paris where he designed and published extraordinary livres d’artistes, including several with his own prose and poetry under the imprint Le Degré 41 (41 degrees refers to the latitude of his hometown, the alcoholic content of brandy, and the Celsius measure of the point at which fever leads to delirium).

From 1940 to 1974, Iliazd produced 20 extraordinary books, including 9 with Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). None have been collected by Princeton University until now.


According to Bookvica, a rare book shop from Iliazd’s hometown of Tiflis, “Iliazd returned to his homeland in 1912 and with his brother, artist Kirill Zdanevitch, he met Georgian painter Niko Pirosmani (1862-1918). They became very enthusiastic about him.

Iliazd was alarmed by the difficult economic straits that the painter was in and wrote a manifesto to promote his art; it was published in a local paper Zakavkazskaya Rech’ in 1913 under the title “Khudozhnik-samorodok” (A natural-born artist). It was Iliazd’s first publication. In June 1914 the journal Vostok published his article “Niko Pirosmani,” in which he mythologized the biography of the older artist, linking him with the Silver Age and the Russian avant-garde.”


picasso8In the summer of 1971, Iliazd decided to reprint the article and to help promote it, he asked Picasso to etch the frontispiece. His friend agreed and produced a beautiful drypoint, which was printed at the Atelier Lacourière Frélaut (originally the studio of Roger Lacourière, who passed it on to his collaborator and successor Jacques Frélaut in 1957).

The edition of 78 was completed and signed by December 1972, four months before Picasso’s death. Although this was also intended to be Iliazd’s last book, technical difficulties on another project, Courtisan Grotesque (which had been finished in 1974), caused it to be printed after Pirosmanachvili.


picasso6The copy now in the Princeton University Library comes from the collection of Damian Alaniya. This collector once erased the owner’s stamp of the previous owner to whom this copy was presented by the Iliazd’s wife with signature on the front endpaper: “Eu souvenir de Ms Zdanevitch pour Chota Takaishvili avec les amitiés Ms Helene Zdanevitch. 1.7.82.”




Johanna Drucker writes, “Drawing to the end of his energies, Iliazd had evidently wished this book to perform a double closure: as the end of the cycle of large books, and as the close of the full cycle of his life’s work. There was a mirroring effect between the beginning and the end, a deliberate, marked recognition of the self-consciousness which had dictated the construction of the oeuvre as a whole.” “Iliazd and the Book as a Form of Art,” The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 7 (Winter 1988): 36-51.