Category Archives: Books


Perry’s “Narrative” and the battle between its printers

Scene showing Wilhelm Heine (1827-1885), official artist for Matthew Perry’s Narrative of the Expedition, sketching top center.


Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794-1858). Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry, United States Navy, by order of the government of the United States. Comp. from the original notes and journals of Commodore Perry ... by Francis L. Hawks. With numerous illus. Pub. by order of the Congress of the United States. Washington, A. O. P. Nicholson and Beverly Tucker, 1856.
Separate titles: Vol. 2 Natural history reports by D. S. Green and others; v. 3 Observation of the zodiacal light, from April 2, 1853 to April 22, 1855, made chiefly on board the United States Steam-Frigate Mississippi … data by George Jones.
Copies at Princeton: Eugene B. Cook Chess Collection Oversize 42843.708q; Graphic Arts Collection Oversize 2008-0094Q; Special Collections–Oversize DS809.P45; Special Collections-Rare Books 1732.708q

Matthew Calbraith Perry (1794-1858). Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan, performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy … Compiled from the original notes and journals of Commodore Perry and his officers, at his request and under his supervision, by Francis L. Hawks … New York, D. Appleton and Company; London, Trubner & Co., 1856.
Copies at Princeton: Firestone Library DS809 .P45 1856; Special Collections-Rare Books 2006-0435N

This is a link to a pdf with the lithographs in v.1, including the names of the artists (Heine, Peters, etc) or the photographer (Brown) on the right: Perry

Above, comparing two volumes printed for the Senate, two printed for the House of Representatives, and two trade editions.


“In 1851, President Millard Fillmore authorized a formal naval expedition to Japan to return shipwrecked Japanese sailors and request that Americans stranded in Japan be returned to the United States. He sent Commodore John Aulick to accomplish these tasks, but before Aulick left Guangzhou for Japan, he was relieved of his post and replaced by Commodore Matthew Perry. A lifetime naval officer, Perry had distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War and was instrumental in promoting the United States Navy’s conversion to steam power. …On July 8, 1853… Perry led his four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay, seeking to re-establish for the first time in over 200 years regular trade and discourse between Japan and the western world.”–
“Milestones in the History of U.S. Foreign Relations”

The opening of Japan to trade with the United States led to an exchange in both directions of an enormous number of products and technology along with the intermingling of Eastern and Western arts and cultural. Curiosity on both sides was immense and influenced the development of music, costume, food, architecture, and other aspects of modern life for a generation to come.

To document this important moment in history, writer Francis L. Hawks (1798-1866) was hired to compile and published Perry’s Narrative of the Expedition in an illustrated edition for the U.S. Congress and trade edition for the American public. This was complicated by the fact that, at that time, there was no Government Printing (later Publishing) Office but separate printers for the House of Representatives and for the Senate. Nathaniel Beverly Tucker (1820-1890) was an American journalist who was elected Public Printer for the United States Senate from 1853 to 1857 and Alfred Osborn Pope Nicholson (1808-1876), a lawyer from Tennessee, was elected Public Printer of the United States House of Representatives.

Article I, section 5 of the Constitution requires that “each House shall keep a journal of its proceedings and from time to time publish the same.” After years of struggling with various systems of contracting for printed documents that were beset with scandal and corruption, in 1860 Congress created the Government Printing Office as its official printer.– Transforming GPO for the 21st Century and Beyond

On January 12, 1855, the Senate was the first to place an order for Perry’s Narrative, requesting 5,000 copies, with 500 to be given to Perry and 500 for the U. S. Navy. The following month, the House of Representatives demanded that a copy of the Navy’s report be given to their printer so that 10,00 extra copies be printed along with the 500 for Perry.

“In Senate of the United States, January 12, 1855, ordered to be printed and that 5,000 additional copies be printed; five hundred of which for the use of Commodore Perry. January 29, 1855, ordered that 500 copies be for the use of the Navy Department.”

“In the House of Representatives, February 14, 1855, Resolved. That the Secretary of the Navy be requested to communicate to this House a copy of the report of Commodore M.C. Perry on the subject of the late expedition to Japan; and if said report shall not be completed before the expiration of the present session of Congress, then to deliver the same to the Clerk of the House during the recess. Resolved. That 10,000 extra copies of the said report, together with the maps, charts, and drawings, be printed and five hundred additional copies for the use of the said Commodore M.C. Perry.”


Eliphalet M. Brown preparing to make a daguerreotype.


At the time, the animosity between Tucker and Nicholson was such that they had taken each other to court the previous year, claiming the other was responsible for work and/or compensation in the printing of government documents. In fact, both men were subcontracting the work to the same printing office of Cornelius Wendell and in 1858, the New York Herald broke a story of corruption in the “fat” jobs held by the Congressional printers, which led to both Tucker and Nicholson leaving their positions and eventually to the formation of the Government Printing Office in 1860.

A history of the Government Printing Office:

It was during this litigation that they undertook the printing of Perry’s Narrative, presumably ordering up to 10,500 copies, all printed in the same shop of Cornelius Wendell, with exactly the same text and images, bound in three volumes. A smaller trade edition was printed and published in one volume by D. Appleton and Company in New York City with the tinted lithographs from watercolors by Wilhelm Heine (1827-1885) and daguerreotypes by Eliphalet M. Brown (1816-1886) reproduced as wood engravings.

“Some of the volumes issued by the Government in the past have been very elaborate and expensive. In looking over the subject, it appears a mystery how so much money could be put into a single volume.” Navel Expedition to Japan, 3v. $140.851.30 in 1856–R. W. (Robert Washington) Kerr (born 1841), History of the Government Printing Office (Lancaster, Pa., Inquirer Print. and Pub. Co., 1881). Graphic Arts Collection 2006-3271N


The only difference between the Senate and HoR volumes at Princeton is volume two, which has the colored plates bound recto in one, and verso in the other. Below, in the smaller single volume, Heine’s drawings are slightly changed. See Heine sketching right.


This post is one of two in our Department of Special Collections today about the same phenomenon in the Western world through the lens of different collections under our care, as people throughout Europe and North America had a sudden fascination with all-things Japanese in the latter half of the 19th century. April C. Armstrong, Special Collections Assistant, Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library, is posting on the “West meets East Japanese themes in Princeton’s graphic arts of the late-19th-century.”

Another post planned in the coming weeks from Emma Sarconi on the Manuscripts News blog will show what our collections have to tell us about “The Mikado,” a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera set in Japan that was first performed in London in 1885 and quickly spread throughout the English-speaking world—even, it appears, to the extent that a group of students named their eating club after it.


More about the book’s illustrations:


Color separation for Scribner’s Magazine 1905

The beautiful color illustrations in Scribner’s Magazine were of course thanks in part to the artist of the original painting or drawing but much credit also goes to the artist who did the color separations for each tone or section of the picture. Did them by eye, not photoshop or even a camera. Without these precise zinc or stone plates and the right mixture of colored inks, the true beauty of the painting would not have survived the translation into print.

The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have a number of proofs for the individual color plates that were combined to form a single image, such as the plates for the story “An Impressionist’s New York” by H.G. Dwight, illustrated by Walter Jack Duncan (1881-1941) and published in Scribner’s Magazine November 1905. Here is a taste of that work.







Grant Strudwick’s Black Power ABC’s and much more

The Graphic Arts Collection has acquired a small selection from Tia Blassingame’s collection of modern prints, artist’s books, and zines by Black artists. As the director of Primrose Press (and a member of Princeton Class of 1993), Blassingame is intimately acquainted with many of the Black artists, printers, writers, and authors producing work in the United States. Through her assistance and scholarship, we hope to fill Princeton’s rare book vault with important limited editions by these talented artists.

It is our goal to make this the first of a continuing, perhaps annual, acquisition program. Most titles discuss the experience of being Black or explore some aspect of African American history, while others are brimming with bold, beautiful images.

The 2021 collection includes 41 artists’ books and zines, along with 7 prints/broadsides. Some of the artists represented are Antonio Benjamin, Maya Beverly, Lukaza Branfman-Verussimo, Brianna Rose Brooks, Diasporan Savant Press, Kimberly Enjoli, Jen White Johnson, William Lofton, Arial Robinson, Clarissa Sligh, Grant Strudwick, and of course, Tia Blassingame.

Highlighted here, just for fun, are two of the alphabets: Grant Strudwick’s Black Power ABC’s Card Set [above] and [below] Arial Robinson’s Modern Day Black Alphabet.

All these new acquisition will be catalogued and available for classes beginning in a few weeks. Our sincere thanks to Tia.

Engravings by Suor Isabella Piccini (1644–1734)

For several years, the Graphic Arts Collection has been adding Venetian books with engravings by Isabella Puccini. Adding them one at a time.

Thanks to the extended collecting of David Rueger, Antiquariat INLIBRIS, Vienna, Princeton now holds 60 titles containing engravings signed and identified as Piccini’s, the vast majority from her lifetime. As the picture above illustrates they represent a wide variety of physical formats, as well as subject matter. There are both secular and religious commissions including medicine, history, law, and pageantry as well as theology and devotion.

Rueger mentions he took particular care to select items poorly represented in institutional holdings; 22 of our new acquisitions were not currently recorded in any American library. Here is a brief list by author and an annotated list by chronology. All scholarship goes to Rueger.
Piccini inventory short by name

Piccini inventory chronological

Within these books are approximately 257 engravings attributable to Piccini, plus one unbound sheet. It is our hope that Princeton University Library will become a destination collection for the study of female engravers, as well as Venetian illustrated books. Perhaps this acquisition will even inspire someone to write the definitive catalogue raisonné of this important artist’s work.

Not with frail chisels, brushes, or pens
Does she work, who lives in a humble convent,
But in pure metal creates immortal works,
She paints with a skilled hand, she engraves, and she writes.


Princeton’s collection begins in 1663 when, at the age of 19, Piccini pulled her first known engraving. In her early twenties, she became a novitiate of a Franciscan convent and took the nom de religion Isabella. Note, our collection does not include the work with the signature ‘I. Piccini’ which belonged to her father, Jacopo Piccini. Rueger comments:

Other nuances also become apparent: for example, the frontispiece to the 1669 La Ricreatione Del Savio In Discorso Con La Natura is signed simply ‘Piccini f.’ However, we know that Isabella was professed as a nun in 1666, and subsequently (as illustrated in the present collection) shifted her signature to reflect her religiosity. Instead, the 1669 frontispiece of the Ricreatione del Savio must be the work of Jacopo Piccini. Nevertheless, this frontispiece is commonly attributed in institutional records to Isabella, based solely on the ‘Piccini’ signature. Such indications start to become clear only when a critical mass of examples can be gathered in one place, as we hope to have done with the present collection.

One of the most exciting inclusions in the present collection is a book fully illustrated by Piccini relatively early in her career: “Memorie Funeste de’ Fatti Dolorosi occorsi nella Passione amarissima dell’ Unigenito Figlio di Dio” (1682) [seen above] which was subsequently ordered to be burned. Although recorded as such in the Index, we have been unable to trace another surviving copy. Needless to say, the book’s engravings have never been acknowledged as Piccini’s work before, but shed remarkable light on the nun’s willingness to undertake projects with notoriously suspect publishers like Giovanni Giacomo Hertz and authors like Michele Cicogna.




See also:
Luisa Di Vaio, “Suor Isabella Piccini,” in Grafica d’arte. Milano, 2003.

Anna Francesca Valcanover, “Contributi ad una storia del libro illustrato veneto: suor Isabella Piccini,” in Biblioteche venete. Abamo Terme, 1985.

Bellarmino Bagatti, “Un’ artista francescana del bulino: Suor Isabella Piccini,” in Studi francescani. Firenze, 1931.

For more biography, see the entry in the Enciclopedia delle donne:

Reminder: Don’t miss Dante 21

“2021 marks the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy and universally considered the father of the Italian language, who passed away on the night between the 13th and the 14th of September 1321″ = Dante 21. Don’t miss the opportunity to view Bronzino’s Allegorical Portrait of Dante at the Metropolitan Museum through October 11, 2021.

Se mai continga che ’l poema sacro
al quale ha posto mano e cielo e terra,
sì che m’ha fatto per molti anni macro,
vinca la crudeltà che fuor mi serra
del bello ovile ov’io dormi’ agnello,
nimico ai lupi che li danno guerra;
con altra voce omai, con altro vello
ritornerò poeta, e in sul fonte
del mio battesmo prenderò ’l cappello . . .
(Par. 25.1-9)

If it should happen . . . If this sacred poem—
this work so shared by heaven and by earth
that it has made me lean through these long years—
can ever overcome the cruelty
that bars me from the fair fold where I slept,
a lamb opposed to wolves that war on it,
by then with other voice, with other fleece,
I shall return as poet and put on,
at my baptismal font, the laurel crown . . .

Read more:
Read more:
Listen Dante 21 BBC:

A copy on wooden panel is preserved in the Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. This text is easier to read.

The history of this lunette is recounted in Giorgio Vasari’s Life of Bronzino. According to Vasari’s reconstruction, in fact, the portrait of Dante that will be exhibited at Palazzo Vecchio is an oil on canvas dating to 1532-1533. The painter was commissioned to make it along with portraits of Petrarch and Boccaccio, to decorate a room in the home of the cultivated Florentine banker Bartolomeo Bettini, with “Tuscan poets who have written verses about love” in the lunettes of the walls. At the centre was a panel depicting “Venus and Cupid” painted by Pontormo after a cartoon by Michelangelo Buonarroti, today preserved in the Galleria dell’Accademia. The ambitious project, which remained unfinished, involved the most important painters working in the city in that period, and dealt with themes cherished by writers of the future Accademia Fiorentina (which Bronzino himself belonged to until 1547), such as the superiority of the Tuscan language and the relationship between art and poetry.

See also:

Why Miriam changed her name to Frank

Mrs. Frank Leslie top center

Henry Carter (1821-1880) worked occasionally as an artist for the Illustrated London News under the pen name Frank Leslie before moving to New York City, where he began publishing his own paper, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper. In 1857, he had his name legally changed to Frank Leslie.

Miriam Florence Folline (1836-1914) married four times and had many names, with and without her husbands. She was Baroness de Bazus, Miriam Peacock, Miriam F. Squier (see also, Miriam Leslie, and Miriam Wilde (sister-in-law to Oscar). In 1881, she also became Frank Leslie.

The Frank Leslie Building

At Mr. Leslie’s death, his company was heavily in debt and Miriam took over the running of the business, with the title of President. To stop any legal questions as to her leadership with the firm, she had her name changed to Frank. *Unfortunately, she continues to be listed in libraries around the world as Leslie, Frank, Mrs.

Author(s): Leslie, Frank,; 1821-1880.
Leslie, Frank,; Mrs.,; 1836-1914. 


As part of her reorganization, she moved the company’s 300 employees and 13 massive printing presses uptown to the cheaper 42-44 Bond Street [above], naming the building after herself: The Frank Leslie Building. Leslie successfully brought the company out of bankruptcy and worked until 1902, when she sold the business, using her capital to fund the Leslie Woman Suffrage Commission.



One of her many books:

Frank Leslie, Are we all deceivers? : the lover’s blue book (London ; New York : F.T. Neely, 1892-96)

The Print Connoisseur

John Taylor Arms, Loop the Loop, 1920. Original aquatint printed directly from the copper plate, frontispiece, The Print Connoisseur December 1920.


Frederick Reynolds, Castle of Vitre, 1920. Original mezzotint printed directly from copper plate, frontispiece The Print Connoisseur, October 1920


While clearing an office recently, several early volumes of The Print Connoisseur appeared. Published by Winfred Porter Truesdell (1877-1939) from 1920 to 1932, the quarterly magazine was distinguished by its frontispiece prints, printed directly from the original copper plates and bound into each issue. Truesdell did the printing for the first year himself from his New York studio, but the second and third year were printed at the Clinton Press in Plattsburgh, NY. During this time, Truesdell moved to Champlain, NY, where he joined Hugh McLellan’s Moorsfield Press, and from 1924 forward he and McLellan did the printing.


Dominique Jouvet-Magron, Le Manoeuvre au Levier, 1923. Original etching printed directly form the copper plate, frontispiece The Print Connoisseur April 1923.


“The Print Connoisseur,” American Art News 19, no. 4 (November 6, 1920), p. 4. Stable URL:

Truesdell’s New York City studio was located in the fashionable east side, not far from J.P. Morgan’s home and library. The studio at 154 East 38th Street was shared with British print maker Frederick Thomas Reynolds (1882-1945) and also served as the meeting place for the Brooklyn Society of Etchers.

Today the address leads to an empty lot, but a sense of the neighborhood can be had thanks to the building directly across the street, owned in the 1920s by Edith Bowdoin, daughter of financier George S. Bowdoin. Although Bowdoin had her father’s carriage house converted to accommodate her automobiles, the façade remained untouched. In the 21st century, the building housed the Gabarron Foundation’s Carriage House Center for the Arts, which hosted exhibitions and lectures until 2011.

George Elmer Burr, Moraine Park, Colo., 1921. Original etching printed directly from copper plate, frontispiece The Print Connoisseur June 1921.


The Print Connoisseur is available digitally through Hathi Trust and has been indexed by David Patrick at:


Maurice Victor Achener (1881-1963), Annecy, Porte Perriere, 1923. Original etching printed directly from the copper plate, frontispiece The Print Connoisseur October 1923.

  George C. Wales, Outbound, 1923. Original etching printed directly from the copper, frontispiece The Print Connoisseur January 1923.


The largest job undertaken by the GPO pre1900

United States. War Department, The War of the Rebellion : a compilation of the official records of the Union and Confederate armies prepared under the direction of the Secretary of War by Robert N. Scott ([Pasadena, Calif.] : Historical Times ; [s.l.] : distributed by Broadfoot Pub. Co., 1985, c1971). Reprint of the ed. published in 1971 by the National Historical Society, Harrisburg, Pa. Originally published in 1880 by the Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. Also called Official records of the Union and Confederate armies. Firestone Library E464 .U6 1985. Digital copy:

“One of the largest jobs ever undertaken by the [Government Printing] office since it came into the possession of the Government was commenced a few months ago in the Document Room. I refer to the printing of the official records of the war, or perhaps better known by the title “Rebellion Records.” Colonel Scott, the officer in charge of this work at the War Department, estimates that these records will make 96 large octavo volumes, of about 800 pages each, or 76,800 pages.

As 10,000 copies of each of these volumes are to be printed for Congress, some idea may be formed of the formidable character of the task. It will require nearly 50,000 reams of paper to print these copies, which, at $4 per ream, will amount to $200,000. The composition will probably exceed 250,000,000 ems, and the number of books will be 960,000.”–R. W. (Robert Washington) Kerr (born 1841), History of the Government Printing Office, (at Washington, D.C.) with a brief record of the public printing for a century, 1789-1881. By R.W. Kerr, of the Government Printing Office (Lancaster, Pa., Inquirer Print. and Pub. Co., 1881). Graphic Arts Collection 2006-3271N

Note all the women working as sheet feeders.

“An order was sent from the [GPO] to a New York type-founder in July 1877 for 60,000 pounds of type. This amount was subsequently increased about 15,000 pounds, making perhaps the largest single order ever given by a printing office, or filled by a type-founder, since the art of printing was discovered.”–History of the GPO, p. 46

“In January 1878, three accomplished sneak thieves, who had previously been shadowing the [GPO]–as was proved by a subsequent examination into the matter–succeeded in abstracting from the safe, by means of false keys, during the temporary absence from the room of the paymaster, some $9,000; and although the parties were afterwards arrested in New York, and indicted, they were never brought to justice, nor was the money ever recovered.”–History, p.46. No record of this theft was published in Washington or New York City newspapers.

The person with the most nose knows most

Nikolaĭ Vasilʹevich Gogolʹ (1809-1852), The Nose by Nikolai Gogol; English translation and commentary by Stanislav Shvabrin; sixteen drawings with collage by William Kentridge (San Francisco: Arion Press, 2021). Copy 17 of 40. Deluxe edition. Graphic Arts Collection 2021- in process


“The edition is limited to 250 copies for sale with 26 lettered hors commerce copies reserved … Of these, 190 Limited edition copies are bound with cloth spines and paper sides, and 20 Variant plus 40 Deluxe edition copies are bound with leather spines and cork paper sides. All copies are signed by the artist and presented in clamshell boxes accompanied by a flipbook, “His Majesty Comrade Nose”, produced in an edition of 350 copies.

The Deluxe edition includes a photogravure “Surveying His Escape” with red pencil markings by the artist. 40 prints plus 5 Printer’s Proofs, 3 Artist’s Proofs, and 2 B.A.T. Proofs have been editioned by Lothar Osterburg in Red Hook, New York on 300 gsm Somerset with gampi chine collé and kozo insets.”–Colophon.


From the prospectus: Originally published in 1836 in Alexander Pushkin’s magazine Sovremennik (The Contemporary), The Nose tells the story of Major Kovalyov, a St. Petersburg official whose nose develops a life of its own. The absurdity of the tale, in which Kovalyov awakens to find his nose gone, then later comes to find it has surpassed him in social rank, lays bare the anxiety that plagued Russia after Peter the Great introduced The Table of Ranks: a document reorganizing feudal Russian nobility, by placing emphasis on the military, civil service and the imperial court in determining an aristocrat’s social standing.



For this edition, Arion Press chose to collaborate with artist William Kentridge, who directed and designed a visually dazzling 2010 Metropolitan Opera production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s adaptation of The Nose. This is his second project with the press, following The Lulu Plays, published in tandem with his 2015 production of the Alban Berg opera, Lulu, also for the Met. Kentridge’s method combines drawing, writing, film, performance, music, theater and collaborative practices to create works of art that are grounded in politics, science, literature, and history.



This edition includes a photogravure “Surveying His Escape” printed in warm black ink on 300 gsm Somerset with gampi chine collé and kozo insets, editioned by Lothar Osterburg in Red Hook, New York. See also:

Jules Léotard by Jean Émile Durandeau

Jules Léotard (1830-1870), Mémoires de Léotard (Paris: Chez tous les libraires, 1860). Firestone recap 4298.579. Fold-out by Durandeau printed on green paper.

Jean Émile Durandeau (1827-1880) is best remembered for his lithographic sheet music designs and caricatures of popular members of French society. While he was a contemporary of Étienne Carjat (1828-1906) and Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), his work has not been equally recorded. Durandeau was the chief illustrator of the satirical newspaper Le Drôlatique and wrote the popular Civilians and Soldiers (1878).

One of the beloved figures he drew was Jules Léotard (1838-1870), circus performer and trapeze artist extraordinaire. A member of both the Cirque Napoléon and the Cirque d’Hiver, Léotard made a flying somersault between two swinging bars in 1859, perfecting the flying trapeze. Songs were written and stories told about the man and his acrobatics, many illustrated by Durandeau.

With his published memoirs, Léotard included an enormous lithographic fold-out by Durandeau, picturing Léotard flying over Paris, with his fans holding heart shaped kites and practicing their own trapeze acrobatics.