Category Archives: Acquisitions

new acquisitions

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-).




Vinita Jha’s “Unlimited Responsibilities of Women during Covid-19”

We have a new addition to our South Asian painting collection, documenting the effect of the coronavirus in that region. In 2020, the artist Vinita Jha created “Unlimited responsibilities of women during COVID-19,” along with a short story narrating the vignettes throughout her work. Vinita’s entire text will be archived with her painting but here is a short section:

This corona epidemic changed our society and social life completely. Covid-19 on the one hand wrapped the whole world in its clutches, on the other hand it also provided employment opportunities to the skilled people. Through this real story, I have tried to tell that the participation of women in the Corona-period played an important role and how did they worked very hard from day-to-night-to bring their family’s happiness back. Whether it is from rural environment or urban environment, women of both classes try their best and they become successful, too.

This is the story of a rural woman, whose name is Laliya. She is not educated but knows how to deal family, business and relationship well-being, She leaves no stone unturned to pursue higher education for her children, even though she belongs to a poor working class. Before the Corona epidemic and lock-down she would go home and clean the dishes and do the cleaning. But after the arrival of this epidemic, she lost that job/employment and became unemployed. They don’t have enough food to spend their life anymore, because they were daily wage worker in their earlier life. Laliya was in very deep sorrow. Now she started living day and night in deep concern about employment and income, and started thinking what to do now ??

Laliya also has two children Muniya (daughter) and Ugna (son). Due to government order in the pandemic, the school of their children has also started teaching online. Since Laliya has only one smartphone in her house and there are two children, both children have their own separate online classes. There is always an atmosphere of war between brother and sister about this smartphone. And sometimes it happens that if the class of both of the children were online together, then the class of both of them would miss or sometimes the class of one child would be missed.

Both Laliya and her husband Bhola are extremely worried about these things and they decided to buy one more smartphone, so that the online class of both their children could be ensured and they could study well. But this dream of Laliya started to look incomplete as they were unable to buy it due to the smartphone being so very expensive. They cannot afford to buy it.

Images and words posted with permission of the artist.

Our sympathies to all those affected by the cyclone and heavy rains this week, on top of the continuing struggles with the huge caseloads of Covid-19 infections. Accept our sincere wishes for a better future.

The debilitated situation of France VS the flourishing condition of the United States, 1836

Conflict and contrast form the basis for this lithograph, on deposit with the Graphic Arts Collection thanks to Bruce C. Willsie, ’86. With France on the left and the United States on the right, the print even has two distinct titles, taken from separate captions on the left and right. Beneath King Louis Philippe (1773-1850) is written: “The debilitated situation of a monarchical Government when puffed up by pride and self-importance, whose resources must be wrung from the people’s hands. The difficulties to which such a State must ever be exposed.” Beneath Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) is the text: “The flourishing condition of a well-formed industrious Republic. The willingness displayed by the citizen of a free state to serve his country with his blood and fortune.” The debilitated situation of France VS the flourishing condition of the United States.


Printed in 1836 by an anonymous artist, possibly in Philadelphia, the scene presents the American superiority following the Treaty of 1831, in which France agreed to pay claims for Napoleonic depredations on American shipping (specifically, France agreed to pay 25 million francs, and in return, the United States paid a small sum to extinguish French claims against the American government and reduced the duties on French wines).

On the American right side a trunk is filled with bags of money while on the left, the French trunk is overturned with bills spilling out on the ground. The officers on the right are proud and sure of themselves while on the French left the men are unsure, fighting amongst themselves. Between them lies an ocean with an equal number of battle ships ready for war.



A center medallion includes lines from Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, slightly altering the beginning:

Can [tyrants but by tyrants conquer’d be,
And] Freedom find no champion and no child
Such as Columbia saw arise when she
Sprung forth a Pallas, arm’d and undefiled?
Or must such minds be nourish’d in the wild,
Deep in the unpruned forest, ‘midst the roar
Of cataracts, where nursing Nature smiled
On infant Washington? Has Earth no more
Such seeds within her breast, or Europe no such shore?