Category Archives: Acquisitions

new acquisitions

Peep Egg

The “peep egg” is such a popular item when classes come to see the pre-photographic optical devices in the Graphic Arts Collection that we have acquired a second example. This alabaster viewer is loaded with two prints of Barmouth and its vicinity from around 1850, along with tiny examples of the crystals, stones, and dried plants in the area. Traditionally, these devices were given or sold as souvenirs.

This viewer is approximate 123 x 72 mm, with a convex lens and two turned knobs. The words, “Present from Barmouth,” are painted on one side with floral decorations. One person at a time looks into the lens and turns the handles to see each of the views. Because the translucent alabaster allows light to pass through it, no outside light source is necessary.

According to the atlas, Barmouth is a town in the county of Gwynedd, north-western Wales, lying on the estuary of the River Mawddach and Cardigan Bay. The Welsh form of the name is derived from “Aber” and the river’s name “Mawddach.”

St. Catherine / Mt. Sinai paper icon, 1759

In anticipation of the 40th anniversary of Hellenic Studies at Princeton University, 2019-2020, the Graphic Arts Collection is honored and delighted to receive the gift of this wonderful paper icon of St. Catherine/Mt. Sinai, published in Vienna, 1759 (59 x 72.5 cm). The engraving is a perfect complement to earlier gifts of Mt. Sinai paper icons and

Our sincere thanks go to the Program in Hellenic Studies with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund and matching funds provided by a gift of The Orpheus Trust to the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Hellenic Studies at Princeton University.

In addition, I would be remiss not to single out Dimitri H. Gondicas, Stanley J. Seeger ’52 Director, Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies / Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities and Hellenic Studies, ’78, who was instrumental in making these gifts possible.

The inscription at the top of this view reads: “Eleō theou Archiepiskopos tou hagiou kai theovadistou horous [sic] Sina Kōnstantios.” Our thanks to Kalliopi Balatsouka, Modern Greek Archivist for Special Collections, who worked on the icon’s description and the transcription of the Greek text (which also appears in Latin and Slavonic).

The main composition is divided into two symmetrical parts by the scene of the crucified Christ under a cloud in the top middle of the image. To the upper left, predominates a scene of the Old Testament where Moses [seen above], according to the Book of Exodus, ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Tables of Law from the hand of God, who offers to Moses two pieces of stone inscribed “ho dekalogos” (the Ten Commandments).

To the upper right, a scene of the New Testament, shows winged angels transporting the relic of the Great Martyr Saint Catherine from Alexandria, Egypt to the highest mountain, now called Mt. Saint Catherine, next to Mount Sinai. A Greek inscription, next to this scene, from the megalynarion of St. Catherine reads: “Echei to son pneuma, ho houranos, sōma de to theion / tethēsauritai en Sina haima martyriou, / en alexandrou polei sophē Haikaterina [sic] / skepe tous doulous sou.”

Inscription in the top left corner in Latin reads: “… Sacri Montis Sinai in Arabia Archiepiscopus… Illustrisse D.D.V.V. … Hieromonachum nostrum Mercurium humillime presentatur.”

The print is rich with history and iconography. To the left and right of the central composition there are two explanatory numbered lists, 62 in total (30+32) about the events taking place in the picture, such as: “Hē proypantēsis tou archiepiskopou,” “to perivoli,” “to koimētērio tōn paterōn,” “to monastērion,” “hoi araves lamvanoun trophēn,” “to mega orama tou prophētou mōyseōs,” hē anodos tou orous,” “hē thyra tēs exomologēseōs,” “Monē tou prophētou Ēliou,” “ho Mōysēs hopou elave tas plakas tou nomou,” “ai pyramēdes,” “aphanismos tou pharaōn,” “hē skēnē tou martyriou,” “Hē phylakē tou klēmakos,” “Hoi hagioi saranta martyres,” “hoi angeloi pherousi tēs hagias to leipsanon apo tēn alexandreian to sineian oros,” and “hē erythra thalasa.”

At the foot of Mount Sinai is depicting Saint Catherine’s monastery and next to it the image of the Virgin Mary as “The Burning Bush.” At the entrance of the monastery, monks welcome an archbishop.


Text below the main scene in two columns both in Greek and in Slavonic refers among other things, to the restoration of the print:

“Ou monon ō eusevē anagnōsta en diaphorois pote kairois ho theos edoxase to entautha schediasthen hagion oros tou sina, phainomenos eis auto kai homilōn / meta mōyseōs, kai Hēliou tōn prophētōn tën martyrian tēs hagias Graphēs, alla kai metepeita di’angelōn metakonisas apo Alexandreias eis auto / to oros to leipsanon tēs hagias parthenomartyros Aikaterinēs …. Anekainisthē ho parōn Typos eulogia men, kai protropē tou panierōtatou Archiepiskopou Karlovitzas k[yriou] k[yriou] Paulou / Nenadovik syndromē de kai epimeleia tou panosiötatou Prōtosyngelou sinaitou kyriou Iōannikiou kai dapanē ton timiōtatōn kai philochristōn pragmateōtōn tou te markou pouliou tou ek siatistēs, kai tou kyriou Kyrou Dēmou tou ek naousēs, etei 1759. en viennē.”

Note, this print is not listed in the Papastratou catalogue, but might be a revised or updated version of no. 385.

More celebrations to come in 2019-2020. Watch for upcoming events here:

Black minstrel song sheets, 1850s

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired 10 small minstrel song sheets with lyrics and small vignettes. Many, not surprisingly, are racially charged and offensive. Here are a few. Massa’s In De Cold Ground (caption title above). London: Printed and published by H. Such, [ca. 1850]. British music sheet with a West India slave woodcut vignette at top, printing the words to a black minstrel song: “Round de meadows am a ringing / De darkies mournful song, / While de mocking birds are singing, / Happy as de day am long; / While de ivy am a creeping / O’er the grassy mound; / Dere de old man am a sleeping. / Sleeping in the cold, cold ground.”

Massa’s In De Cold Ground (caption title below). [N.p.]: W.S. Fortey, [ca. 1850]. Beehive woodcut vignette. British song sheet with black minstrel-style song.


Miss Lucy Long (caption title). Birmingham: Printed and Sold by T. Watts, [n.d. but ca. 1850]. English minstrel song sheet with woodcut vignette of a street peddlar surrounded by several children: “Since you wish to hear me, / Sing a little song, / I’ll sing a very pretty one, / Concerning Lucy Long, / She used to play the fiddle, / When to parties we did go, / And I used to charm the niggers, / Upon the old banjo.”


I’m Off To Charlestown (caption title above and below). [N.p.]: Disley, Printer, [ca. 1850]. British song sheet with black minstrel-style song: “My massa and my missus have both gone away, / Gone to the Sulphur springs the summer months to stay; / And while they’re off togedder on a little kind of spreee / I’ll go down to Charlestown de pretty gals to see.” With somewhat incongruous woodcut vignette of a cavalier at top.

“Air and dance tune (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). One part. The first several bars of melody are shared with the American old-time song “Old Plank Road.” The tune is included in Kerr’s along with a hodgepodge of tunes, including several from America. “I’m Off to Charlestown” was popularized by Christy’s Minstrels, a blackface minstrel troupe, and was written by William B. Donaldson and dedicated to Charles White Esq. It was published in 1850.

My massa and my missus have both gone away,
Gone to the sulpher springs, the summer months to stay;
And while they’re off togedder, on a little kind of spree,
I’ll go down to Charlestown, the pretty gals to see.

William Donaldson (1822-1876) was a left-handed banjo-player who hailed from Poughkeepsie, New York, whose career alternated between clowning for the circuses (where he was the first to perform in black-face) and performing as a theatre minstrel. He made his debut in 1836 at the age of thirteen in Poughkeepsie, as “Young Jim Crow” (after the style of “Daddy” Rice) and ten years later was known mainly as a clown. According to E. Le Roy Rice (Monarchs of Minstrelsy), he “was the inventor of the jawbone as a musical instrument by black-face performers several years before the first minstrel performance was given…In June, 1847, he was one of the five original members of the first Campbell’s Minstrels. About three years before his death he became the proprietor of the Lockwood House in Poughkeepsie. The individual he dedicated the song to, Charles White, owned a minstrel company, White’s Melodeon on the Bowery in New York. William Donaldson, Dan Bryant, Lilly Coleman, and Dan Emmitt performed together for Charlie White in the mid-1850s.

There is an interesting story entitled “Capture of the Slave-Ship ‘Cora'” in the periodical The Century [2] (May, 1894, pp. 115-129) by Wilburn Hall that features Donaldson prominently in the role of Captain of the slave-ship Cora, the last slave ship captured by the United States. The story concludes with a chance meeting between the naval officer who captured him and Donaldson, performing as a clown. After the show the two talked: I met him as agreed–and what a change! Once more the tall handsome man, a little older, perhaps a little more rugged, but strong and manly in figure, and winning in manner and word. He told me much of himself now, and gave me his real name, which was Donaldson. He had been a sailor, lounger, and pseudo-gentleman of leisure on Broadway, negro minstrel, clown, slave-captain–perhaps the list had better be closed; but he had a faithful, generous heart. He was a brave man, even though a statutory pirate.” See also the march variant “Off to Charleston” in Hopkin’s American Veteran Fifer (1905). —


Billy Pattison (caption title). London: H. Disley, [n.d. but ca. 1850]. British song sheet with woodcut vignette of a Black man with pipe. “Oh, white folks listen unto me, / Oh, Billy Pattison, / The subject of my story, I’ll tell unto thee, / Don’t tell me, don’t tell me, / The name of my song I’ll tell unto thee, / Is oh, Billy Pattison… / Billy Pattison, good-bye, / I think your horse will die, / If he don’t I’ll ride again. / If he dies I’ll tan his hide. / I’ll lay ten dollars down, / I’ll leave it in my will, / Show me the man in this yer town, / That struck my brother Bill.”



Taxiphote glass stereoviews

Thanks to Rubén Gallo, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., Professor in Language, Literature, and Civilization of Spain at Princeton University, the Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a Taxiphote Stereo-Classeur (French stereo viewer).

Today we received approximately 244 glass stereoviews, housed in four wood drawers, to put inside and use with the viewer. Each drawer holds four cassettes of the fragile slides.  Most are Swiss landscapes and tourist views but some are portraits. A few also have labels, dated as early as 1902. Here is a sample:




Russkii Revolyutsionny Plakat

Every once in a while, instead of a book coming to the Graphic Arts Collection (GA), it ends up on the open shelves with the Library of Congress classification GA or geography. This was the case with Vyacheslav Polonskii’s beautiful book Russkii Revolyutsionny Plakat (Russian Revolutionary Posters), 1924.

Over the years, a number of students checked it out and enjoyed the 56 bright lithographic plates, along with information on 850 revolutionary posters by Demi, Ivanov, Lebedev, Mayakovsky, and many other, most produced between 1917 and 1925 with homages to Marx and Lenin. We are very glad to have this now rare publication in the vault.


Vyacheslav Polonskii, Russian Revolutionary Posters (Moscow; Gosudarstvennoye Izdatel’stvo, 1924). Graphic Arts Collection GA Oversize 2006-0266Q

Water Yam

It isn’t often that our artists’ books get a performance, but that is the case with the new acquisition of George Brecht’s Water Yam (Fluxus no. C, 1963). At 4:30 on Friday, November 16, 2018, music major Tim Ruszala will present a Junior Paper recital about Fluxus, a radical avant-garde interdisciplinary art movement of the early 1960s.

He writes, “A large part of their corpus consisted of written instructions or short phrases, intended for performance / reflection, and the pieces were often framed in musical terms or had to do with questioning art production and conventions of consumption.” Tim will hold a recital in Theatre Intime of a selection of interesting pieces that he found in this process, including Brecht’s Water Yam.

When the BBC described Water Yam, they noted:

In a series of classes given at the New School for Social Research between 1956 and 1960, John Cage influenced a generation of artists who would develop the performance script into an art form, and lay the ground for Happenings and Fluxus. Having earlier embraced chance compositional procedures as a means of effacing his own likes and dislikes (and, as he put it, ” imitating nature in her manner of operation”), Cage encouraged students who already were using chance in their work – such as George Brecht and Jackson Mac Low – and prompted others – such as Allan Karpow, Dick Higgins and Al Hanson – to do so. And his classroom assignments led to instructions for events and performances that yielded some of the most important intermedia activity of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Out of the Cage class came the kind of event cards for which Fluxus would become well-known, an evocative form whose power is best appreciated in the 1959-66 works of George Brecht published by the movement’s impresario George Maciunas in a box called Water Yam. While most Fluxus event cards are performance scripts, Water Yam also includes instructions for the creation of objects or tableaux–obscure directions whose realization left almost everything to the realizer. In such works as Six Exhibits (“ceiling, first wall, second wall, third wall, fourth wall, floor”) and Egg (“at least one egg”), Brecht applied to objects and physical situations the freedom of execution and openness to serendipity that is the hallmark of a Fluxus performance.

Water Yam, arranged by George Brecht ([New York]: Fluxus, [1963?]). 1 cardboard box with 76 cards. Fluxus ; no. C. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

Rare London Cries

John Leighton [pseudonym Luke Limner] (1822–1912), London Cries & Public Edifices (London: Grant and Griffith, successors to Newberry and Marris, [1847]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

Writing for the DNB, Edmund M. B. King notes “Leighton created over 400 cover designs in the 1850s and 1860s, some of which were for serial publications, though the majority of his work was for monographs. For The Keepsake his cover design was first used in 1849. It was repeated each year until 1857. He made different upper cover vignettes for each year of the Court Album from 1850 to 1855.

He carried out much work for two publishers in these years: for Griffith and Farran he made over forty designs; for Routledge he created over eighty. The series Routledge’s British Poets provides an early example of the reuse of vignette design by Leighton for many of the individual volumes published in the 1850s.

…Distinguishable by his sheer proficiency as well as by his artistic talent, Leighton’s work as a book illustrator also showed him capable of providing a rich vein of comic art in the 1840s and 1850s. He also created more studied work in the 1850s and 1860s, often within the prevailing fashion for gothic design and motifs. He designed covers for a wide range of subject material, including religion, engineering, history, natural history, and particularly imaginative literature. His commissions from a few publishers spanned many years. His cover and spine designs are frequently a marvel of intricate line within a confined space. Above all, Leighton provided designs that the publishers wanted, often incorporating deft touches of humour with a flourish.”

First published at the end of 1847, Leighton’s Cries was issued in three different formats, plain at 2s 6d; tinted at 5s; and hand colored at 7s 6d, which is the format the Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired. Beall E51; Hiler p. 536; Gumuchian 3700; and Lipperheide Gcb 19.

The Cries of London and Public Edifices [lithographic plate list]
The Tinker and the Tower of London
The East India House and Rhubarb
The Bank of England and Matches
The Royal Exchange and Oranges, Sweet St. Michael Oranges
The Mansion House and Buy a Cage . . .
Old College of Physicians and Old chairs to Mend . . .
Smithfield & Cat’s Meat! — Dog’s Meat!
St. Johns Gate, Clerkenwell, and Dust Oh!
Temple Bar & Pity the Poor Blind!
Somerset House & Umbrellas to Mend!
Covent Garden Theatre and the Costard-Monger
Trafalgar Square — Images! Buy Images
Charing Cross — Baked Potatoes, All Hot!
White Hall — Bow Pots!
Burlington House — Wild Duck, Rabbit, or Fowl!
St. George’s, Hanover Square — New Mackarel!
St. James’ Palace — Old Clothes!
Westminster Abbey — Milk Below!
Lambeth Palace — Water Cresses
New Hall, Lincolns Inn — Knifes and Scissors to Grind!
The Foundling Hospital — Sweep! — Soot Oh!
The North-Western Railway — Muffins! — Crumpets!
The Coliseum — Buy a Broom!


Chronology of Queens and Kings

Chronology of the Sovereigns of England ([England], 1814). 16 circular discs, printed on both sides with portraits of the Kings and Queens from William the Conqueror to George III. Formerly attached on a ribbon, they are housed in a bronze metal case, 47 mm, embossed with the head of the Prince Regent, George III, on one side and the title on the other. Along with the portrait, each disc includes the date of the sovereigns’ death, their age, and the length of their reign.

One source describes the commemorative medallion, box and prints, as produced for the centenary of the House of Hanover in 1814. It was reissued in 1820 for Prince George’s accession to the throne and again in 1822 to commemorate George IV’s trip to Scotland.

The Graphic Arts Collection also includes a deluxe set of aquatints in a commemorative medallion of The Battles of the British Army in Portugal, Spain and France from the Year 1808-1814, edited, published, and sold by Edward Orme in 1815.

Vues d’optique with a third layer

“Le Peintre la Nature et l’Atelier”

Thanks to the generosity of Bruce Willsie, Class of 1986, the Graphic Arts Collection has eleven new French vues d’optique mounted on wooden frames to be viewed in a polyorama panoptique. Not only are they different sizes and different views from anything currently in the collection, but several have a mysterious third layer so that when they are held up to light, or viewed in a closed box, a new print is visible in silhouette. These are called protean views.

Here are a few samples. Note the performers on stage below and the congregation at the midnight mass at the bottom.

“Salle de l’Opera à Paris”


“Taverne de l’Angle à Londres”


“La Messe de Minuit”

Gerstner’s Vienna

Joseph Vincenz Degen [Johann Pezzl], Grundriss und Beschreibung der Haupt- und Residenzstadt Wien. [Floor plan and description of the capital and residence city of Vienna] = Description et plan de la Ville de Vienne [Description and plan of the City of Vienna] (Vienna: bey J.V. Degen, 1802). Map, guidebook, and slipcase. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process


When we first received this enormous four-part map of Vienna, engraved by Joseph Gerstner (1768-1813), it was folded into tiny chunks and stuffed inside the original paper slipcase (120 x 85 x 40 mm), together with the palm-size guidebook. Once its various parts were separated, rare book conservator Mick LeTourneaux decided not to return them to the original format but flatten the maps and conserve the slipcase individually.

A foam insert was prepared for the book and slipcase, exactly the size of the maps so that the whole object could be housed together in a light-weight four-flap folder. In this way, the material is protected but also available to researchers for daily use.


The four sheets of Gerstner’s plan of Vienna fit together to form a map approximately three feet square. His detailed plan was based upon Maximilian von Grimm’s monumental map to the Greater Vienna and the first scientific survey of the city, published in 1799. Gerstner includes the old city ‘Innere Stadt’ within the castellated medieval walls and the fast-growing suburbs that surrounded the center in all directions. Every street is precisely delineated and labeled.

The text for this first edition was written by Johann Pezzl (1756-1823), who frequented the Greinerschen Salon, in the circle around Caroline Pichler.  The guidebook became so popular that it was re-issued many times up until 1809. After this date, the elaborate parts of this publication were discontinued and only the plan was published.