Category Archives: Blocks plates stones

Watch-Paper Printing Plates

If you were a person of sufficient means in the 18th century, you might own and carry a pocket watch. So treasured were these watches that many were designed with a second, outer case to protect the delicate mechanism. Between the inner and outer casing, it became fashionable to insert small circular engravings, printed on square sheets and then cut out and inserted.

By 1780, the various engraved portraits of beautiful women slipped into a gentleman’s pocket watch became the subject of “A Dissertation upon Watch-Prints” by Bob Short in The Westminster magazine, London (Dec 1780): 691-691.

While these circular prints have become collectables, few can boast the copper printing plates that produced them. We are proud to say the Graphic Arts Collection is the new owner of three copper printing plates for watch-papers. Each can be attributed to John June (active 1740-1770), after Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792), and published by Robert Sayer in Fleet Street, ca.1766.

The female subjects are:

Miss Nelly O’Brien. Printed for Rob.t Sayer, at No 53 in Fleet Street. Plate: 164 164 x 1.15mm, barely rounded corners. On the back: punched for correction; engraved outline of a man in a large hat crossed through. Provenance: Iain Bain (1934–2018), Bewick scholar and printing historian.

Lady Selina Hastings. Sold by Rob.t Sayer in Fleet Street. Signed ‘J. June Sc.’ Plate: 63 x 70 x 1.27 mm, rounded corners. On the back: closely spaced lightly scratched lines: O’Brien by Reynolds, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

Countess of Waldegrave. Printed for Rob.t Sayer, at No 53 in Fleet Street. Plate: 63 x 55 x 1.27mm, barely rounded corners. On the back: makers stamp B.W. under a crown (B. Whittow of Shoe Lane) with burin trials around and filling in the letters; punched for correction; lightly scratched lines, traces of ink.

Copper plates with the digital image inverted below.

Each of these ladies were the subjects of paintings by Sir Joshua Reynolds, later reproduced in mezzotint and widely distributed. While John June is confirmed to have engraved only one plate, we can attribute the others to him as well. Robert Sayer’s catalogue of 1766 contains a list of sixty-one ‘Designs in miniature for watchcases’ engraved by Louis Philippe Boitard at 3d. plain and 6d, so it is possible the same portrait was reproduced by several engravers over the years. See more in London 1753 by Sheila O’Connell, et al. (2003). Marquand Library DA682 .O28 2003

Reynolds, Joshua; Nelly O’Brien (d.1768); Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow;

Johann Wilhelm Klein’s 1807 Printing Device for the Blind

Johann Wilhelm Klein (1765-1848) was a pioneer of education for blind people. According to online sources, “on 13 May 1804 Klein began to teach a young blind man, James Brown, at home, with government support. Thus arose the first blind institute in Germany. Klein’s mission in life was now the care of the blind, the education and career guidance to make it in the world of work. in 1807 Klein presented his Stachelschrift, a printing device with which he could type the upper-case letters of the Latin script and create marks in dotted form in the paper. For the blind this writing was not easy to read and to write by hand was hard even for the sighted. Klein rejected Braille because of their dissimilarity from the script of the sighted.”

In 1819 he wrote a Textbook for Instruction of the Blind, see: Johann Wilhelm Klein (1765-1848) Lehrbuch zum Unterrichte der Blinden: um ihnen ihren Zustand zu erleichtern, sie nützlich zu beschäftigen und sie zur bürgerlichen Brauchbarkeit zu bilden (Wien : Gedruckt bey Anton Strauss, 1819). Ex 2008-1453N Gift; History of Education Collection in honor of Harold T. Shapiro’s Cabinet, 1988-2001 Here is the entry on another Klein box from the exhibition “Touching the Book.”

Our box, a gift from Bruce Willsie ’86, has a hinged slatted lid over a felt ‘writing’ pad over a small paper drawer with an adjacent compartment for storing the printing blocks. There are 25 smaller printing blocks (lacking ‘X’), a stop block, a spacing block, and 21 larger printing blocks (lacking ‘E’, ‘H’, ‘I’, ‘V’, ‘W’, & ‘X’, with and additional ‘M’). The box is 33 x 34 x 10 cm.

I have not checked this bibliography but it might be helpful:

Friedrich Benesch (1977), “Klein, Johann Wilhelm”, Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 11, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 742–743

August Hirsch (1882), “Klein, Johann Wilhelm”, Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 16, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 97–98

“Klein Johann Wilhelm”. In: Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950 (ÖBL). Vol. 3, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna 1965, p. 382.

Klein, Johann Wilhelm in Constant of Wurzbach, Biographical Encyclopedia of the Empire, Austria, volume 12, page 51, Vienna, Imperial Court and State Printing 1864

Karl Heinz Scheible: Johann Wilhelm Klein . In: Wulf-Dietrich Kavasch, Günter Lemke and Albert Schlagbauer (eds): 2002, ISBN 3-923373-54-6, pp. 313–357


Solingen = The City of Blades

41 electroplated printing blocks ([Solingen, Germany?: n.p., ca.1920s]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020-in process

Graphic Arts acquired a small collection of 41 electroplated printing blocks depicting dental and surgical instruments presumably for a trade catalogue, ca. 1920?.  Some of the blocks present sets of tools and some represent individual knives, scalpels, or scissors. These are not fresh samples, all the blocks have been inked and used. All have the remains of glue and paper on the underside of the block, indicative of patching or ‘bringing up’ the block to sit level inside the chase, reading for printing.

The dealer found a faint stamp on the side of the wood, which was read as Lauterjung & Hautzel … fabrik u. galvanoplastik, Solingen. Known as “the city of blades,” Solingen is located in the North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

“For many centuries the name Solingen was [the] embodiment of high quality knives, cutlery and more. It is not surprising, that many companies try to make use of this name by selling their goods as “Made in Solingen”, although they have not been produced in this city. In order to fight this fraud, Solingen became the only city in the world whose name is a registered trademark. The so called “Solingenverordnung” regulates the use of the brand “Solingen” since 1938.”

The archive of Nordrhein-Westphal makes reference to a Lauterjung & Hautzel of Solingen in 1926, describing them as ‘Lieferant von Holzschnitten und Galvanos’ (suppliers of woodcuts and electroplating), suggesting that they were responsible for producing the blocks. In 1941, to celebrate the 50 anniversary of S. Lauterjung Söhne, Metallwarenfabrik [metal goods factory] in Solingen, a catalogue was prepared by Kurt Hartwig, which may have some relationship to our blocks.




One other possible connection to the blocks might be Carl Martin GMBH, also founded in Solingen in 1916. “Carl Martin have concentrated on manufacturing and distributing high-grade instruments for dentistry. Our more than 95 years of experience in raw materials, development processing and the requirements for daily use in hospitals, practices and laboratories have made us one of the world´s leading manufacturers of dental instruments.”


Louis Léopold Boilly (1761–1845), Le Baume d’Acier [The Balm of Steel], in Recueil de Grimaces, 1823. Lithograph. Graphic Arts Collection


Visiting Laurence Hutton and others

Drama critic, journalist, and collector Laurence Hutton received an honorary Master of Art degree from Princeton University in 1897, where he returned to lecture in English from 1901 until his death in 1904. He is buried in the Princeton cemetery.

Hutton left his collection of manuscripts, rare books, and life/death masks to the Princeton University Library, including two books that describe his obsession with death masks: Talks in a library with Laurence Hutton, recorded by Isabel Moore (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1905) and Portraits in plaster: from the collection of Laurence Hutton (New York : Harper & Brothers, 1894). Images of the mask can be found at

Here are a few of the other notable gravestones at the Princeton cemetery. An online brochure has more information:

Both john Aaron Burr, Jr. (1756-1836), a colonel in the Army of the Revolution and vice president of the United States from 1801 to 1805; and his father Aaron Burr, Sr. (1716-1757), the second President of Princeton University (1748-1757) are buried in the Princeton cemetery. Burr Sr.’s grave is the oldest grave in the cemetery.



A large plot in the Princeton cemetery holds the graves of Richard Stockton Jr. (1764-1828), a lawyer and son of a signer of the Declaration of Independence. He was a Federalist statesman who served his native New Jersey nationally, first in the Senate (1796-1799) and then in the House of Representatives (1813-1815). Nearby is Robert Field Stockton (1795-1866), son of Richard Stockton, Jr., who was a United States Senator (Democratic) from New Jersey (1851-1853). He was also president of the Delaware & Raritan Canal. Here is the grave of granddaughter Saidee.

Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), whose father was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, founded Shakespeare & Company, a Paris bookshop which became a focus for struggling expatriate writers. In 1922 she published James Joyce’s Ulysses when others considered it obscene. At her death, a large collection of manuscripts, books, and other material came to Princeton University Library.


Grover Cleveland (1837-1908) was a New Jersey native and lawyer. He was the Mayor of Buffalo, Governor of New York, and elected President of the United States twice from 1885 to 1889 and from 1893 to 1897. He remains the only President of the United States to win the popular vote in three consecutive elections and serve two non-consecutive terms. His birthday (March 18) is celebrated annually at the Princeton Cemetery with a short eulogy and wreath-laying ceremony.

“Cleveland’s introduction to Princeton came during his second presidency when he spoke at the University’s 1896 sesquicentennial celebration. So enamored with Princeton were the Clevelands that in 1897 Grover and wife Frances Folsom purchased a mansion on Hodge Road, dubbing the estate “Westland.” As a resident of Princeton the ex-president became deeply involved in University affairs and was a staple on campus, lecturing once or twice a year and taking part in annual Commencement ceremonies. He was elected a trustee in 1901 and until his death seven years later was one of the Board’s most visible members, contributing vocally to the tumultuous debate on the graduate school and acting as chairman of the trustees committee on that topic (Cleveland sided with Dean Andrew Fleming West’s plan)”.–




Clark Fisher (1835-1903), founded the Eagle Steel Works (later named Fisher & Norris Anvil Works) in Trenton, New Jersey. His wife Harriet White Fisher Andrew (1861-1939) was known for being the first woman to circle the globe in a automobile. After her husband’s death, she took over the management of Eagle Steel Works and was the only woman member of the National Association of Manufacturers.


Edwin Landseer, age 8


The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired the original copper plates for six of Edwin Landseer’s juvenile etchings made between the ages of 8 and 10, including his first etching and a previously unpublished and unrecorded plate. These came along with the 1974 re-strikes of five of the plates and a new impression of the unrecorded sixth plate [above]. The plates are clear and the images visible, even though the photography here might not appear to be.

Here is the full description of the plates, transcribed exactly from Roger Gaskell’s excellent research:

1. Heads of Sheep and Cattle, 1810. Lettering: Edwin Landseer, del & sculp. in his 8th year. London: Published Nov.r 1852 by P.& D. Colnaghi &Co. 13 & 14 Pall Mall, East.

180 x 116 x 1.19mm rounded corners, makers name ‘I. Shafe Shoe-Lane London’ stamped on the back. Scratched number 18 and circular scoring on the back. Graves 3; BM 1853,0409.27 (an unlettered proof inscribed ‘EL delt & sculp in his 8th year’); RCIN 815000.

2. Heads of a Boar, Sheep, and Donkey, 1810. Lettering: Edwin Landseer, del. & Sculp. his 1st Etching executed in his 8th year.

114 x 178 x 1.38mm, bevelled edges, rounded corners, makers name ‘G. Harris No 31 Shoe Lane London’ stamped on the back. Three etched figures, described below, scratched number 16 and oblique scoring on the back. Graves 4; BM 1853,0409.30 (unlettered proof inscribed ‘Edwin Landseer delt & sculp – his first etching in his 8th year’); RCIN 815001. [On the back of the plate in upright orientation:]

2b A Cow and two Lambs’ Heads. This must always have been intended as a trial because the image is close to the stamped name of the plate maker and would be difficult to print without taking an impression of the stamp. There are a few scratches as can be seen in 1974 re-strike. Unknown to Graves.

3. A Horse, Goat and Bull, 1811 Lettering: Edwin Landseer, del & sculp. London: Published Nov.r

198 x 121 x 1.5mm, bevelled edges, rounded corners, makers name ‘G. Harris No 31 Shoe Lane London’ stamped on the back. Scratched number 17 on the back. Graves 5; BM 1853,0409.25 (unlettered proof inscribed ‘E. Landseer delt & sculp’); RCIN 815002.

4. Donkeys and a Foal, 1811 Lettering: Edwin Landseer, del. in his 9th year. T. Landseer, sculp. London: Published Nov.r 1852 by P.& D. Colnaghi &Co. 13 & 14 Pall Mall, East.

129 x 115 x 1.43mm, rounded corners, makers name ‘G. Harris No 31 Shoe Lane London’ stamped on the back. Scratched number 11[?] and oblique scoring on the back. Graves 6; BM 1853,049.26 (unlettered proof inscribed at left beside top donkey ‘EL, Delt & Sculp’ and blow image ‘EL’ at left and ‘TL’ at right); RCIN 815002. The legend on the plate ascribes the etching to Thomas Landseer (1795–1880), Edwin’s the elder brother but Graves ascribes it to Edwin Landseer. In fact they both had a hand, the pencilled inscription on the BM impression indicating that the etching of the donkey at the top was done by Edwin and the donkey and foal below by Thomas Landseer.

5. A Cow and Calf, 1812 Lettering: Edwin Landseer, del & sculp. in his 10th year. London: Published Nov.r 1852 by P.& D. Colnaghi &Co. 13 & 14 Pall Mall, East.

127 x 179 x 1.5mm, bevelled edges, rounded corners, makers name ‘G. Harris No 31 Shoe Lane London’ stamped on the back. Scratched number 6 on the back. Graves 9; not in BM. RCIN 815003 (an early state); RCIN 815004 (published by Colnaghi 1852).

6. Two Rams’ Heads, no imprint, c. 1810-12 No lettering.

204 x 167 x 1.31mm, edges bevelled on the back, rounded corners. ‘Landseer’ and ‘15’ scratched on the back. Maker’s name ‘G. Harris No 31 Shoe Lane London’. Punched on the back half way down on the right hand side, perhaps for an erasure as there is no etching on the face at this point. Although unsigned, the style of the plate, its survival with Landseer’s other juvenile etchings and the scratched name on the back leave little doubt that this is his work and thus a new addition to his oeuvre. Unknown to Graves; no impressions located.


The plates were probably not have been published in Landseer’s youth. By 1852 they were in the possession of Peter and Dominic Colnaghi who published restrikes of five of them with new lettering identifying the artist and adding their imprint. These prints are very rare so the edition was probably small. Predictably there are impressions in the Royal Collection. The British Museum holds rather messy unlettered proofs of four of the plates, probably the artist’s proofs with pencil lettering which is evidently the source of the lettering added by Colnaghi, who sold the proofs to the Museum in 1853. The sixth plate is not lettered, though it has Landseer’s name scratched on the back, and there no proof in the BM.

In the 1970s (or before) the plates came into the hands of the publisher, printing historian and Bewick scholar Iain Bain (1934-2018). Bain printed an edition of 80 copies (75 for sale) of the five etchings issued by Colnaghi and these were offered to subscribers in a portfolio with a brief introduction at £80 plus VAT. Pre-publication subscribers received a bonus of ‘an additional print taken from the back of one of the plates which carries three experimental studies never before published’. A copy of the publication, including the bonus print and the prospectus, is offered here with the plates. The sixth plate, which as noted above is unknown from contemporary or later impressions, is accompanied by a recent impression.



Edwin Henry Landseer (1802–1873). Six etched copper plates, 1810–1812 (legends and imprint lines were added to five plates in 1852) [with]  Iain Bain, The childhood etchings of Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A. Five prints taken from his still surviving copper plates: etched between his 8th and 10th years c. 1810–1812. Produced for The Heritage Collection by Iain Bain at the John Boydell Press MCMLXXIV. (Bristol: The Heritage collection, 1974.) 6 prints in the original buckram portfolio. Together with the prospectus, also dated 1974, five 1974 re-strikes of the plates and a new impression of the unrecorded sixth plate. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process.

*CDV portrait from the Laurence Hutton Photograph album Box 3.

Perforated embroidery patterns

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a group of 83 perforated designs or pounce patterns, assumed to be stencils made to transfer a design to fabric for embroidery or other decoration. In addition, there is a circular from August Bernard, described as the successor to Leon Cendrier, “designer, manufacturer, & importer of perforated French stamping patterns for braiding and embroidery,” located at 401 Canal Street, New York City. There is nothing on the sheets to verify they are from Bernard’s shop, but the flier confirms he had, at that time, the largest collection of such patterns in the United States, so it is likely these came Bernard.

One other possible source for these vegetable parchment patterns might be Mrs. T.G. Farnham. On the verso of one of the decorated initial patterns is the rubber stamp of “Mrs. T.G. Farnham, Art Needlework, Stamping, Embroidery, Etc., 16 West 14th St., N.Y. City.”

In the 1880s, Farnham advertised perforated patterns etc. for sale in such magazines as Harper’s Bazar and The Youth’s Companion and was the author of Home Beautiful, a Descriptive Catalogue of Art Needle Work (New York, 1884).

The article on the left was found in New York’s Great Industries: Exchange and Commercial Review, Embracing Also Historical and Descriptive Sketch of the City, Its Leading Merchants and Manufacturers .. (Historical Publishing Company, 1884). Neither Bernard or Cendrier are listed.

Of course, anyone can make their own patterns but these are extremely detailed and regular in their piercing, suggesting they were made by an experienced commercial vendor.

Both Bernard and Farnham also sold the colored powders and fine felt pounces used to apply the powders to the patterns. The same waxy blue powder is found on the rectos of most of the patterns in the portfolio, indicating they were all used by the same person. One of the patterns bears a partial watermark “CO. DALTON MA”, suggesting that the vegetable parchment was made by Crane and Company.

Most paper stencils were used and soon discarded as they became worn out. The Graphic Arts Collection has a number of metal stencils and horsehair Japanese stencils but very few on paper or vegetable parchment as these have been described. This is a rare surviving collection.

83 needlework stamping patterns and a circular issued by August Bernard of New York City ([New York: August Bernard?, ca. 1880s]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2020- in process.


Mr. Hall’s Store

South William Street today

James Hall (1810-1854) was an importer (born in Scotland, active in the United States) who met John James Audubon (1785-1851) while the artist was living in London during the last years of printing Birds of America. According to New York City tax records, Lot 48, 51 Stone Street (originally known by its Dutch name, Hoogh Straet) was sold to Hall in May 1835, just months before the Great Fire of December 16-17, 1835.

When everything on the block burned to the ground, Hall rebuilt a five story “through-the-block store and loft” giving the business two addresses, 49-51 Stone and 19 South William Streets. Hall’s considerable square footage was primarily used as storage and he worked from an office around the corner on Beaver Street, later shared by Audubon’s son John Woodhouse Audubon (1812-1862), after Hall’s sister Caroline (1811-1899) became John’s second wife in 1841.

Hall’s building was, for a time, the home to five tons of copper printing plates for Birds of America, stored there when the material came to New York City.

John and Caroline built a home on the Audubon estate near what is today 155th Street and James Hall also purchased a small section of land from Lucy Audubon where his family settled (more about that property).

After an equally devastating fire in the summer of 1845, again burning 100s of buildings in lower Manhattan, a storage vault was built on the Audubon property where the plates were moved.

J.J. Audubon died in 1851, James Hall died in 1854, Victor Audubon died in 1860, and John Woodhouse Audubon died in 1862. Lucy Audubon leased and then sold each of the homes on the estate until she finally vacated the property to live with relatives. This is when the copper plates also needed a new home, but that’s another story.

When Hall rebuilt his store, each of the buildings on Stone/South William looked exactly alike, with Greek revival columns along the street level. It wasn’t until the 20th century that things changed. Amos F. Eno purchased several buildings on the block, selling Hall’s to his nephew Amos R.E. Pinchot and his socialite wife Gertrude, active with Margaret Sanger. The most interesting facade is the one next door to Hall:

“Then on December 20, 1926 the property … was purchased by Block Hall, Inc, [a] newly-formed club composed of businessmen in the banking and marine insurance industries. The president, Gresham Innis, announced that the land “will be improved by the club with a seven-story clubhouse.” In deference to the historic site the club was named in honor of Adriaen Block and would be a private social, athletic and luncheon club. …At the time, downtown businessmen were increasingly inconvenienced as the residential neighborhoods moved further uptown, making traveling home for lunch difficult.  A private luncheon club resolved the problem and eliminated the only other option, which was scrambling for tables at the few acceptable restaurants in the area.” See more here.

Note, the scrambling was primarily for a seat at Delmonico’s restaurant, 2 South William Street, later Beaver and South William [below].No information available

Read the full story of the Audubon printing plates in Print Quarterly:

Just Kids

Printing plates photoshopped and laterally reversed for easier reading.


Over eighty years before Patti Smith’s Just Kids hit the bookstores, Ad Carter (1895-1957) and his distribution firm King Features Syndicate were publishing the daily comic strip Just Kids in papers across the United States. From 1922 to 1947, Just Kids entertained the American public weekday mornings in black and white, and every Sunday in color.

These metal plates had to be snail-mailed from one city to the next for printing, so on any given day a different strip would appear in Baltimore papers from the one in Philadelphia papers. William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), who owned the King Features syndicate, took a particular liking to Carter’s work and also published his strip Nicodemus O’Malley in Hearst papers.

The Just Kids Safety Club was formed in the spring of 1928 to promote safety for school age children walking to and from school. In exchange for a pledge to “always look up and down before crossing the street,” children received a membership button featuring one of the characters from the strip.

Comics historian Don Markstein described the Just Kids gang:

Mush Stebbins continued as part of an ensemble cast… Other regulars included Mush’s pals, Fatso Dolan and Pat Chan, the latter adding a touch of racial diversity back before diversity was cool. The group functioned as a kid gang operating in and around a small town called Barnsville, sort of like the later Archie and his pals, but younger, did in Riverdale… His specific source of inspiration was Reg’lar Fellers, by Gene Byrnes, of which Just Kids was a blatant copy. This was part of the same trend as Tillie Jones’s similarity to Winnie Winkle and Annie Rooney’s to that other Annie.

Thanks to the generous donation of Charles Rose, Class of 1950, P77, P80, the Graphic Arts Collection owns 1,429 zinc and aluminum printing plates for Just Kids and other comic strips syndicated to American newspapers from the 1920s to the 1950s. The plates originated with Abraham Meyers, whose American Melody Company or Meyers List (newspapers knew the firm as International Cartoons or Empire Features) was founded in 1898. For more on the gift, see:

Particular thanks also to the many staff members who have moved these very heavy plates from one location to another over the last ten years of renovation.

Mush’s sister is hanging laundry on a clothesline and he says, “Gee Wendy, I wasn’t as lucky as you when it comes to matching up your stockings.”


See also:
The Adventures of Just Kids (1934).
Just Kids and Deep-Sea Dan (1940)