Category Archives: Acquisitions

new acquisitions

Les Ascensionnistes



Les Ascensionnistes. Nouveau jeu de Société très Attrayant, [The Mountaineers: An Attractive New Board Game]. (Paris: MD [Mauclair & Dacier]; Printed at Roches Frères, ca. 1885). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process

The game’s decorated box holds a folding chromolithographic board with 108 numbered squares; six hand painted die-cast figures; 32 white and coloured playing tokens in a bag; a shaped paper-mâché tray; a bone dice; and printed instructions. According to the online Game of the Goose database ( this is the same game published by Simonin-Cuny and similar game reset with different title (Jeu des Alpinistes. Nouveau Jeu très Amusant) also published by Simonin-Cuny.

The firm of Mauclair-Dacier, located on 5 rue Haudriette in Paris (with a factory on 148 avenue Daumesnil), specialized in manufacturing and selling toys and games. It was active from the 1880s until it was acquired by the firm of Les Jeux Réunis in 1904. Visit the Mauclair-Dacier game factory:




Illustrations from Henriette de Beaumont d’Angeville (1794-1871), My ascent of Mont Blanc; with a preface by Dervla Murphy ; translated from the French by Jennifer Barnes (London: HarperCollins, 1991). ReCAP, GV199.92.A54 A3 1991.

The Mountaineers game, exclusively designed around male climbers, reminds us of Henriette d’Angeville (1794–1871), “reported to have been the first woman to climb Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the French Alps. True, Marie Paradis, a local peasant, driven by the lure of financial gain and encouraged by fellow adventurers, had gone to the top in 1808. But unlike her, d’Angeville made the decision to attempt the feat without the encouragement of others, preparing and paying for the trip herself. Her success earned her recognition as the first climber of the “weaker sex” to reach the summit of Mont Blanc. Surprisingly, the feat received little commentary, except in books on the history of mountaineering where a few scattered passages mentioned her – sometimes in disparaging terms.”–Women in Trousers: Henriette d’Angeville, a French Pioneer? By Pascale Gorguet Ballesteros. 04 Nov 2016

Less distinguished but equally ambitious was Helen Henderson Chain, wife of James A. Chain. Both were artists and avid climbers as seen in the photographs of their 1888 trip to Germany, Switzerland, and Italy.

Helen Henderson Chain and James A. Chain, The Chain Gang Abroad: Around Europe with a Camera [photography album], 1888. Some photography by Helen Henderson Chain ( 1848-1892). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2008-0001E


Women’s Army Corps (WAC) Album

With war looming, U.S. Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduced a bill for the creation of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in May 1941. Having been a witness to the status of women in World War I, Rogers vowed that if American women served in support of the Army, they would do so with all the rights and benefits afforded to Soldiers. Spurred on by the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Congress approved the creation of WAAC on May 14, 1942. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the bill into law on May 15, and on May 16, Oveta Culp Hobby was sworn in as the first director. –from “Creation of the Women’s Army Corps, Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC)”

Hobby immediately began organizing the WAAC recruiting drive and training centers. Fort Des Moines, Iowa, was selected as the site of the first WAAC Training Center. Over 35,000 women from all over the country applied for less than 1,000 anticipated positions. The first women arrived at the first WAAC Training Center at Fort Des Moines on July 20, 1942. Among them were 125 enlisted women and 440 officer candidates (40 of whom were black), who had been selected to attend the WAAC Officer Candidate School, or OCS.

In January 1943, U.S. Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers of Massachusetts introduced identical bills in both houses of Congress to permit the enlistment and commissioning of women in the Army of the United States, or Reserve forces, as opposed to regular enlistments in the U.S. Army. This would drop the “auxiliary” status of the WAAC and allow women to serve overseas and “free a man to fight.” President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation on July 1, 1943, which changed the name of the Corps to the Women’s Army Corps (WAC) and made it part of the Army of the United States. This gave women all of the rank, privileges, and benefits of their male counterparts.

Janet Angwin’s Women’s Army Corps Album with 330 photographs and over 130 other items, 1944-46. Graphic Arts Collection. GAX 2021- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection holds a scrapbook documenting Janet Angwin’s service in the Women’s Army Corps or WAC, beginning with the order calling her up to active duty November 11, 1944, and her trip to Fort Des Moines. The album provides a personal account of the her experience in the WAC, along with detailed information on women serving in the United States Army. Included are WAC recruitment and informational pamphlets, city guides for enlisted men and women, official army memos (some mentioning Angwin by name), and the news briefs and humorous publications of the various forts where she was stationed.

Angwin was working at the Alameda Naval Air Station when she was called to active duty. At the Fort Des Moines training center she became certified to drive cargo trucks and vehicles, and was stationed in South Carolina, the Seattle Port of Embarkation, and finally Fort Lawton in Washington.

Some of the publications collected in the album are: Facts you want to know about the WAC; WAC Handbook; the “Re Port” for the Special Service Branch Charleston Port of Embarkation; Daily News Summary editions for the Charleston; and Glamour magazine pamphlet “Mustering-out Wardrobe for Servicewomen” showing what they could buy with their wardrobe allowance of $200.

Il giuoco dilettevole delli tarocchini di Bologna

Carlo Antonio Pisarri (ca. 1720-1780), Istruzioni necessarie per chi volesse imparare il giuoco dilettevole delli tarocchini di Bologna (Necessary Instructions for one who wants to learn the delightful game of Tarocchino in Bologna) (Bologna: Per Ferdinando Pisarri, all’Insegna di S. Antonio, 1754). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process


Chapter I: “Dell’Antichità di questo Giuoco, e come gli Antichi lo giocavano” (Of the Antiquity of this Game, and how the Ancients played it),




This early text offers the history and rules of the Tarocchino and in particular, the Bologna variation of that Tarot card game. An extended and updated history can be found with The Cultural Association “Le Tarot” at

“The deck Tarocco or Tarocchino Bolognese also called Carte Lunghe (Long Cards) is used in Bologna and in its province. In this case the diminutive Tarocchino means: there are not 78 cards but only 62. There are not the 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the four suits. So in the game the picture court cards are more vulnerable.”

The relationship between the author of the text Carlo Antonio Pisarri (ca. 1720-1780) and the printer/publisher Ferdinando Pisarri (active 1705-1778) is still uncertain. “Towards 1725 Ferdinando Pisarri, brother of Constantine, began to print in Bologna, at the same time as Constantine and his heirs, which often came out with very important editions, rich in tables and ornaments, not forgetting, however, editions of a more popular character.”

Typographic necrology

Necrology Series (2017) by Ken Lum in “New Grit” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, 2021.

Friday evening on April 14, 1865, at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. He was carried to a boarding house across the street and died the next morning. News reached the Philadelphia Inquirer offices after midnight on April 15, when they printed a preliminary account of Lincoln’s death.

(c) Ken Lum

Ken Lum on the steps of Weightman Hall at the University of Pennsylvania, September 2015. Photo: Stephanie Noritz.

Writing for Border Crossings Magazine, Lum comments:

In 2015, on the sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s death, the Philadelphia Inquirer reprinted its front page as it had appeared on April 15, 1865, a day after the American president’s assassination. I was struck by the appearance of the page, how differently it looked from today, with what seemed like illogical spacing, kerning, eclectic use of fonts, all encapsulated in a highly florid language. Running down the entirety of the left-hand column was a series of what appeared as mini-headlines, each announcing a significant moment in Lincoln’s life, from birth to death . . .

My series titled “Necrology” was impelled by the idea of text as an image machine . . . . In fact, the Lincoln page taught me that pictorialism begins with the unit of the alphabetic letter itself, well before its amalgamation into text. . . . Each work tells of a possible life lived . . . Each of the lives depicted in this series is neither fact nor fiction; they are amalgamations from various collected obituaries as well as personal recollections of dead relatives and friends.

[The] works chronicle lives of people such as an African-American woman of faith who led a decent lower-middle-class life as a keypunch operator; or a mysterious tattooed lady found dead and identified only by chance through Facebook; or Yasir Khorshed, who fought on behalf of garment workers’ rights only to die at an early age of benzene poisoning, at one time a not uncommon cause of death for garment workers.–

“New Grit: Art & Philly Now” through August 22, 2021.

Althea Gyles

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), The Harlot’s House: a Poem; with five illustrations by Althea Gyles. Deluxe issue, one of fifty copies “With the illustrations in duplicate, the further set being proofs on India paper mounted, with black marginal borders, and the text printed on Japanese vellum with the plates in Folio. Original cloth portfolio (London: Imprinted for subscribers at the Mathurin Press, MCMIII. [1904]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2021- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired the 1904 pirated edition of Oscar Wilde’s poem The Harlot’s House, published by Leonard C. Smithers (1861-1907) under a fictitious imprint and accompanied by five photogravures reproducing drawings by Althea Gyles (1868-1949).

“A strictly limited edition … issued with the illustrations printed on plate paper and the text on hand-made paper, enclosed in a portfolio … This is no. … / Fifty copies printed as an Édition de luxe with the illustrations in duplicate … and the text printed on Japanese vellum. This is no. … / Twelve copies are printed as an Édition de grand luxe on pure vellum. This is no. … “–Page [2].

The book is described in the Oxford DNB by Warwick Gould:

In Paris early in May 1899 Gyles agreed to illustrate Wilde’s The Harlot’s House for the publisher, pornographer, and patron of Aubrey Beardsley, Leonard Smithers (1861–1907). Soon they were caught up in an ostentatious affair. She executed five coloured drawings which Smithers described as ‘weirdly powerful and beautiful’ and eventually published in the pirate edition in 1904 (Sherard, 342). At the height of her energies, postponing all other work to finish the illustrations for The Harlot’s House, she was plainly in love with ‘so excellent a person as Mr Smithers’ (Finneran and others, 56). Martin Secker would often see them playing chess in the domino room at the Café Royal. The gold-stamped covers for Ernest Dowson’s Decorations followed in December 1899, using a stylized rose, which Yeats identified as her ‘central symbol’, on the white parchment top board, and a pattern of thorns and foliage on the back. Four swirling birds pecking at a heart between a sun and moon surrounded by stars form the top board of John White-Rodyng’s The Night (1900).

“Miss Althea Gyles’ five beautiful and bizzare illustrations to, or rather interpretations of, Wilde’s beautiful and bizarre poem make this edition of it a notable contribution to Wilde literature, and one which collectors of his strange haunted work will greatly value. “The Harlot’s House” was one of the earliest, in fact I think the actual first, of Wilde’s poems to find its way into print, and Wilde used laughingly to tell an amusing story about its original publication. Wilde was quite a young man when it was first printed in an English weekly called The Sporting and Dramatic News, and, as with all young writers, “Oscar’s” first published poem was something of an event in the family. Hearing indefinitely that he had achieved the dignity of appearing in print, a certain distinguished and pious old lady relative of his had congratulated him. “I hear, Oscar,” she had said, “that you have had a poem published.” And then, much to Wilde’s embarrassment, she had continued, “And what is the subject of the poem?” How Wilde evaded the dilemma I forget, but I remember that even his superb presence of mind was sorely taxed to avoid shocking the good old lady with a title hardly suggestive of the innocent first fruits of a boyish muse.”–J. Fuchs, review The Harlot’s House in The International 1910

We caught the tread of dancing feet,
We loitered down the moonlit street,
And stopped beneath the harlot’s house.

Inside, above the din and fray,
We heard the loud musicians play
The ‘Treues Liebes Herz’ of Strauss.

Like strange mechanical grotesques,
Making fantastic arabesques,
The shadows raced across the blind.

We watched the ghostly dancers spin
To sound of horn and violin,
Like black leaves wheeling in the wind.

Like wire-pulled automatons,
Slim silhouetted skeletons
Went sidling through the slow quadrille,

Then took each other by the hand,
And danced a stately saraband;
Their laughter echoed thin and shrill.

Sometimes a clockwork puppet pressed
A phantom lover to her breast,
Sometimes they seemed to try to sing.

Sometimes a horrible marionette
Came out, and smoked its cigarette
Upon the steps like a live thing.

Then, turning to my love, I said,
‘The dead are dancing with the dead,
The dust is whirling with the dust.’

But she–she heard the violin,
And left my side, and entered in:
Love passed into the house of lust.

Then suddenly the tune went false,
The dancers wearied of the waltz,
The shadows ceased to wheel and whirl.

And down the long and silent street,
The dawn, with silver-sandalled feet,
Crept like a frightened girl.

“The Harlot’s House,” published in April 1885 in the Dramatic Review.

Join us Friday, May 28, for a look at the Princeton Print Club


While the campus of Princeton University was populated exclusively by young boys in the 1940s, the Princeton Print Club had a diverse membership, which helped to introduce these students to elements of visual culture previously unseen along Nassau Street. Although the Club was supervised by printer/publisher Elmer Adler, it was the boys who ran the operation, volunteering as registrars, treasurers, curators, event planners, and more. The annual fine art prints produced exclusively for Club members continue to be treasured by print collectors worldwide.


Please join us at 2:00 edt on Friday, May 28, 2021, when Julie Mellby will present an illustrated history of the Princeton Print Club, joined by Marilyn Kushner, New York Historical Society, who will talk about the explosion of interest in printing and print collecting at that time, and by Alexandra Letvin, from the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, where they continue to circulate fine art prints to the students each semester as part of their Art Rental program.

Register: HERE


On lending day, the boys lined up before breakfast in order to be first to see the print selection. By noon, 400 or more framed works had been circulated.

With a regular membership fee of $5 a year, the Club rapidly gained support throughout the Princeton community and art collectors nationally, until enrollment hit 200. Each member was allowed to purchase an annual fine art print depicting the Princeton campus, as well as attend lectures, demonstrations, and an annual December print sale. Proceeds were used to establish a circulating collection of prints and photographs lent to students free of charge at the beginning of each semester. That collection forms the basis of the current Graphic Arts Collection, now part of Firestone Library’s Special Collections.

Register here:



“The Class Mark” from NYPL

The Graphic Arts Collection holds only one issue of The Class Mark, published by the Communist Party and Young Communist League Units of the New York Public Library, 42nd Street. Volume 1, no. 9 begins: “We, the Communists in the NYPL, are here to stay. We are here to grow in numbers. We work with you, our fellow employees. We talk to you. We hear your comments. Some of you have been misinformed. Some of you have made a wrong guess. No need for high pressure writers to mould undeniable facts into readable English. No “outside” or “alien agitators” dreaming of pointless destruction. We are Americans…”

The periodical is described in “Reading between the lions: A history of the New York Public Library” posted on Wed, May 23, 2018 by Lucie Levine:

When the Library opened May 23, 1911, crowds of 50,000 marked the occasion. So impressive was New York’s “splendid temple of the mind,” President Taft called its opening a day of Nation importance, declaring that the Library would be a model for other cities hoping to spread knowledge among the people.

Vladimir Lenin agreed. He touted NYPL as a model because the system made its “gigantic, boundless libraries available, not to a guild of scholars, professors and other such specialists, but to the masses.” (Lenin himself enriched the Library – NYPL acquired a large measure of the private collections of the Czars when the Soviet Union sold its treasures after the Revolution.)

…By the 1930s, the Library, built for the people, was practically the Popular Front: radical librarians published their own in-house quarterly called Class Mark, declaring, “We are the librarians, pages, and service workers in the New York Public Library system who are members of the Communist Party and of the young Communist League.”

The Class Mark was one of dozens of serials included in the Investigation of Un-American Propaganda Activities in the United States: Appendix from United States. Congress. House. Special Committee on Un-American Activities. U.S. Government Printing Office, 1941:

…Thousands of citations from the Daily Worker could be given to show its complete subservience to Moscow and its disloyalty to the United States. A single citation must suffice for the present report: In an article by Earl Browder, which appeared in the Daily Worker of January 14, 1933, the defeat of the United States is advocated in the event of this country’s involvement in war.

…The Communist Party employs a special technique in the promotion of the Daily Worker’s circulation. That technique is the use of shop and neighborhood papers. The major objectives of the shop and neighborhood papers of the Communist Party are (1) to propagandize directly for the Soviet Union, and (2) to promote the circulation of the Daily Worker. In Exhibits Nos. 21 and 22, the mastheads of the following shop and neighborhood papers appear:

RED CHART : Issued Monthly by the Communist Party Unit in Mount Sinai Hospital
POSTAL WORKER: Published by Postal Telegraph Branch of the Communist Party
WE THE PEOPLE: Published by the Communist Party-Branches of Sunnyside and Thompson Hill
COLUMBIA SPARK : Issued by the Columbia (University) Nucleus of the Communist Party and Young Communist League
CLOSE-UP: Issued by Communist Party Branches in Film Industry
RED PEN : Issued by the Communist Party Unit of the W. P. A. Federal Writers’ Project
CITY COLLEGE TEACHER WORKER: Issued Monthly by the Communist Party Unit of City College (New York)
BERGEN BEACON: Published by the Communist Party of Bergen County (New Jersey)
THE CLASS MARK: Published by the Communist Party Branch of the New York Public Library…

19th-century German scrapbook needs research

Here are a few images from a recently acquired scrapbook that contains wonderful prints, cut and pasted without any additional captions by the owner. The material is primarily German, primarily late 18th and early 19th century on themes of women’s life and fashion. There are a total of 89 prints on 28 leaves, all in good condition. The image on the front cover has been identified as Seidel quarry at Rochlitz with a view of Hartenstein castle on the back cover.

This would make an interesting study in itself or part of a larger project on domestic print collecting by women. Requests for free digitization can be made here:

Decorative Fireboards

The Graphic Arts Collection is the fortunate new owner of two decorative fireboards with color woodblock prints from Zuber & cie. A fireboard or chimney board is a panel designed to cover a fireplace during the warm months of the year. Neither of these sheets are titled or dated and since the Zuber artisans preserve their woodblocks for continued use, it is difficult know where or when they were made. The blocks were likely carved in the early 19th century, while the sheets may be 20th century.

If the scenes look familiar, the design of the fireboard was often a repetition of the wallpaper and/or other design elements in the room. There are many definitions online, but most are similar:

In warm weather, a fireboard effectively reduced the number of mosquitoes and other insects, or even birds, that might enter a house through an open, damperless chimney. The board or shutterlike contrivance typically of wood or cast of sheet metal frequently decorated with painting and stencilling. Some fireboards have notches cut out of the lowest edge to accommodate andirons.

Fireboards are also called: chimney boards, chimney pieces, chimney stops, fire boards, summer boards. Store-bought chimney board papers and panels of wallpaper custom cut to match the paper chosen for walls received similar treatment. Pasted to heavy paper or canvas nailed over the edges of the frame, they were less durable than wood fireboards and therefore less popular.


See other Zuber designs here:

Conrad Rossi-Diehl

Artist and art educator Conrad Rossi-Diehl (1842-1926) was brought to the United States from Rhenish, Bavaria, as a child and spent his early years in various mid-west cities before his artistic talent became evident. When offered the chance to study in Europe, Rossi-Diehl chose to go to Munich to study under Wilhelm von Kaulbach (1805-1874), concentrating on fresco painting and elements of design. This led to various teaching positions with St. Louis Art Society, the Chicago Academy of Design and the Missouri State University, where he lasted until the spring of 1885. It was time to move to New York City.


Rossi-Diehl found work at the Hebrew Technical Institute, while organizing a weekly journal, entitled The Reflector: an Illustrated Journal Devoted to the Interests of Labor & Capital VS Monopoly. This often overlooked publication, filled with bright chromolithographs and articles about the Knights of Labor and early craft unions, only lasted from May to November 1886 but its emphasis on craft and artisan training led directly to his next venture [The Reflector is available at the Library Company and New-York Historical Society].

A plate from The Reflector reproduced in black and white in Quarter of a Millennium: The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1731-1981


At this point, Rossi-Diehl joins John Ward Stimson (1850-1930) to establish the Artist Artisan Institute also called the New-York Institute for Artist-Artisans, on West 23rd street. Stimson had been lecturing in art at Princeton College before being named Director of Art Education at the Metropolitan Museum of Art but resigned to lead his own school focused on practical art training. Both Stimson and Rossi-Diehl believed that America needed to improve the artistic nature of its manufactured products like wallpaper, book covers, and stained glass windows. Rossi-Diehl directed the drawing and design classes, emphasizing form, ornamentation, anatomy, and perspectives. Unlike his previous schools, he taught craft as art and in doing so, sought improve Americans homes and cities.


The New York Times said “Mr. Stimson’s idea in the establishment of the institute was…teaching principles instead of mere imitation, and developing the democratic American idea that art is not necessarily the mere foible of the foolish, the fad of new fashionables, or the monopoly of the speculator.” By 1890 the The Artisan-Artist Institute had 250 students with classes in painting, sculpture, architecture, illustration, etching, stain glass, ceramics, carving, metal working jewelry, interior decoration and plastic modeling. They became known as  “the most promising among the art educational institutions of the country” and 23rd Street became the center of art instruction in New York. Students included T. M. Cleland (1880-1964) and Henry McBride (1867-1962).

Meanwhile Rossi-Diehl published a variety of anatomy manuals and design books, while also writing passionate editorials for the Times and other journals. Below is a small section from “The Training of Teachers: A Review of an Argument in The Times Concerning Frederic Burk’s Book” by Rossi-Diehl, New York Times 13 Oct 1897: 6.


The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a small group of drawings by Rossi-Diehl, about whom little has been written. A short biography can be found by William Richard Cutter (1847-1918) in American biography; a new cyclopedia, and there is a brief piece in Scannell’s New Jersey First Citizens: biographies and portraits of the notable living men and women of New Jersey with informing glimpses into the state’s history and affairs (Patterson, N.J. : J.J. Scannell, 1917/1918-).