Category Archives: Books


1933=one cent . . . 2019=one cent

On May 1, 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, The Catholic Worker newspaper made its debut with a first issue of twenty-five hundred copies. Dorothy Day and a few others hawked the paper in Union Square for a penny a copy to passersby.–

Still costing one penny, The Catholic Worker remains one of the best sources for black and white graphic art. Here are a few cuts from a recent issue. Browse or search for additional examples of CW art here:
Rita Corbin

After realizing she had no interest in advertising, she then studied under printmaker Harold Sternberg at the Art Students league, followed by an apprenticeship with German-born abstract expressionist Hans Hoffman, though her studies with him came to end when she married. But her best art education, she said, came from spending afternoons visiting the art museums and galleries, and walking the streets and riding the subways drawing the ordinary people she saw.

Rita arrived at the Catholic Worker on Chrystie Street at the age of twenty. Although she wasn’t aware of it she was following in the footsteps of Ade Bethune. the first Catholic Worker artist. As Dorothy did with Ade fifteen years previously, she immediately set Rita to work illustrating the paper, and Rita became a life-long contributor as one of the three primary Worker artists along with Ade and Fritz Eichenberg. Of the three, Rita was the only one to have lived at the Catholic Worker, and she also raised five children while being an artist. –“In Memory of Rita Corbin 1930-2011” by Kate Hennessy in The Catholic Worker January 2012

Julie Lonneman

Rita Corbin

Julie Lonneman

June Hildebrand

Brian Kavanagh

The Catholic Worker. Firestone Library Forrestal Annex 0921.247f
36 East 1st Street
New York NY 10003
Phone: 212-777-9617

American War Information Unit, 1945

KZ: Bildbericht aus fünf Konzentrationslagern Amerikanisches Kriegsinformationsamt (S.l.: American War Information Unit, no date [1945]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

One of the earliest reports and the first published by the United States Army on the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, this fragile pamphlet offers eyewitness accounts of American and British troops after the liberation of Buchenwald, Belsen, Gardelegen, Nordhausen and Ohrdruf.

KZ was distributed in Germany by the Psychological Warfare Division of the American War Information Unit (Amerikanischen Kriegsinformationsamt im Auftrag der Oberbefehlshaber der Aliierten Streitkräfte) at the end of the war in order to convey the enormity of the crimes committed under the Nazi regime. Despite wide circulation, relatively few copies remain and so, it is important that one has now entered the Graphic Arts Collection.

These photographs are reported to have played an important role as evidence in the Nuremberg Trials. Note, only a few pages have been posted here due to the horrific content depicted.


Ricketts’s drawings, published and unpublished

[Above] John Byrne Leicester Warren, Baron de Tabley (1835-1895), Poems dramatic and lyrical; with illustrations by C. S. Ricketts (London: E. Mathews and John Lane ; New York : Macmillan and company, 1893). ExC J. Harlin O’Connell Collection 3713.1.1893. “This edition is limited to six hundred copies.”

[Above] Charles Ricketts (1866-1931), Nimrod, 1893. Pen and ink drawing for John Byrne Leicester Warren, Baron de Tabley (1835-1895), Poems dramatic and lyrical; with illustrations by C. S. Ricketts (London: E. Mathews and John Lane ; New York: Macmillan and company, 1893). Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02078

[Below] Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), The Sphinx; with decorations by Charles Ricketts (London: E. Mathews and J. Lane, 1894). Rare Books 3989.5.386.11. “Limited for England to 200 copies.”

[Below] Charles Ricketts (1866-1931), The Sphinx, 1916. Pen and colored inks drawing, not included in Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), The Sphinx (London: E. Mathews and J. Lane, 1894). Graphic Arts Collection GA 2006.02079. The genesis of this drawing is not known. There was no proposed 1916 edition of the Wilde book.

Charles Ricketts has been called the quintessence of the nineties. In his life as much as his work, he embodied not merely an “aesthetic” devotion to art and beauty but also many of the fin de siècle’s finest creative energies. …In London, the writers Oscar Wilde, Michael Field, John Gray, Thomas Hardy, W. B. Yeats and Thomas Sturge-Moore were all eager for Ricketts to decorate their books or design stagings for their plays.

Wilde especially was proud of Ricketts’s involvement in his own work: he once called Ricketts “the subtle and fantastic decorator” of his books. In some respects, Ricketts was Wilde’s collaborator or kindred spirit. His sympathies with Wilde were profound. His designs for Wilde’s The Sphinx mark one of the high points, if not the high point, of late-Victorian book design.”

–selection by Nicholas Frankel, Associate Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, editor of Ricketts’s The Sphinx and author of Oscar Wilde’s Decorated Books and Masking The Text: Essays on Literature and Mediation in the 1890s.

Première Imprimerie Royale

L’abbé François-Philippe de Laurens de Reyrac (1734-1781), Hymne au soleil (Paris: de l’Imprimerie royale, 1783). Previously owned by Bernard H. Breslauer. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

Étienne-Alexandre-Jacques Anisson-Duperron (1749-1794) joined his father at the Imprimiere Royal (Royal printing office) in 1783 and succeeded him in 1788. He was especially interested in papermaking and printing methods, and claimed to be the inventor of the ‘one-shot press’. This work ended in 1792, when the Office became the Imprimerie nationale (National Printing Office) and not long after this Anisson-Duperron was arrested on charges of provoking disturbances, finally sentenced to death and executed on April 25, 1794. He is the author of a thesis presented to the Royal Academy of Sciences from March 1783 and published in 1785 under the title “First Memoir on the printing in letters, followed by the description of the new press executed for the service of the King …”. —

In 1783, one of Anisson-Duperron’s first projects at the Imprimiere was to produce this little book as a demonstration of his new press (the invention of which was claimed by Didot l’Aîné). For a text, he chose L’abbé de Reyrac’s Hymne au soleil, written in 1776 and reprinted several time in various formats due to its popularity.

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a copy this first book printed with the new press “à un coup.” It is a superb presentation copy bound in morocco with the royal coat of arms. According to the catalog of the Breslauer collection, “this version of the Royal arms (45 mm high) is not recorded. […] No other book printed by the Imprimerie Royale in a binding with its arms appears to be known”. –From the library of Bernard Breslauer (Bibliotheca bibliographica breslaueriana I, New York, 2005, no. 66: “The recipient of this handsomely bound work of publicity, presumably presented by the director of the Royal Press, is not identified”).

There are two known issues. In the first issue, printed on laid paper, p. [1] (1st count) is blank and the text “Première épreuve …” is printed on the front cover. In the second issue, printed on wove paper, the text “Première épreuve …” is printed on p. [1] (1st count), and substantial portions of the text have been reset. The copy in the Graphic Arts Collection is the second issue, with text “Première épreuve” printed on p. [1].

“Première épreuve d’une nouvelle presse inventée pour le service de l’Imprimerie royale: et approuvée par l’Académie des sciences le 17 mai 1783. Cette presse qui diffère des autres dans presque toutes ses parties, est plus expéditive d’un quart que les presses ordinaires, & rend la main d’œuvre moins pénible: Elle procure aussi aux ouvrages une perfection indépendante du talent des ouvriers.” = First test of a new press invented for the service of the Royal Printing Office: and approved by the Academy of Sciences on May 17, 1783. This press, which differs from the others in almost all its parts, is more expeditious than a quarter ordinary presses, and makes work less painful. It also gives the book a perfection independent of the talent of the workmen.


Thanks in particular to John Logan, Literature Bibliographer, Collection Development, Scholarly Collections and Research Services, for his help in this acquisition.

State of the Union

Werner Pfeiffer, State of the Union: a Snapshot of Our Political and Social Conundrum ([Red Hook, N.Y.] : Pear Whistle Press, 2012). Graphic Arts Collection.

A representation of the flag of the United States divided into 8 rectangular sections, each holding accordion folded reproductions of articles from periodicals on one side, the other containing images of fanciful 19th-century mechanical instruments surrounded by political quotations.



“Werner Pfeiffer was born in 1937 in Stuttgart in the southwestern part of Germany. He studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in his home town. In 1961 he emigrated to the United States. Initially, he was active as a designer and art director on a variety of projects. In this capacity he received many citations and awards from the New York Art Directors Club, the New York Type Directors Club, the New York Society of Illustrators, and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. His design work has been widely published in the international design literature in magazines such as Graphis, Gebrauchsgrafik, Print, Modern Publicity and Art Direction.

In 1969 he was appointed Professor of Art at Pratt Institute in New York. At the same time he assumed the position of director of the Pratt Adlib Press, a publishing venture of the Department of Graphic Art at Pratt.”

Death’s Arrow

The Christian’s Looking-Glass. In four parts. I. Contemplations on the Life of Man; Shewing his Birth, Progress, and Manner of living, his Thirst after Riches, and sudden Decay from that Vain-Glory. Set forth in a plain and easy Stile, for the instruction both of old and young. II. An excellent Poem on Time; fit to be purused by those who spend their precious Time in voluptuous, sinful, and unnecessary Pleasures. III. Sacred Contentment: Or, The best Companion for an afflicted Mind. IV. Rules out of the Golden Tables of Ptolomy [sic]. Printed and sold at the printing office in Aldermary church-yard, Bow Lane, 1780. Graphic Arts Collection, on deposit from Bruce Willsie, Class of 1986.

This simplified woodcut of death with an arrow is a common symbol in western art. Here are a few more examples.

Hieronymus Bosch, Death and the Miser, ca. 1485/1490. Oil on panel. National Gallery of Art


Willem van Swanenburg, after Maarten van Heemskerck, Allegories of the Misuse of Wordly Property, Plate 4, ca. 1609. Engraving. British Museum


Jan van de Velde II, Death with arrow and hourglass, 1633.


Thomas Bewick, Fable of the Old Man and Death, ca. 1789. Illustration to an unidentified publication. Wood engraving. British Museum


Unidentified artist, The Last Drop, 1778. Etching. Published by Matthew Darly.


Wall-painting commemorating Louis, duke of Orléans, in the family chapel at the monastery of Les Célestins, Paris, commissioned in the late fifteenth century and destroyed ca.1779. Antiquarian Gaignières drawing. Bodleian Library, MS Gough-Gaignières 1, fol. 1r.


After Francis Hayman, The Bad Man at the Hour of Death, ca. 1784. Hand-colored mezzotint. Published by Carington Bowles. British Museum


after Joshua Gleadah, Death and the Dancer, 1800s. Aquatint. Wellcome Library, London.

Lew Ney comes to Princeton

The Greenwich Village printer, publisher, and celebrated bohemian Lew Ney (born Luther E. Widen, 1886-1963) left over 100 of his books and small magazines to the Princeton University Library without a clue as to why, having no known attachment to the institution or its faculty. A recent discovery may shed a small light on this question.

On November 1, 1920, Lew Ney (pronounced looney) and his friend Emil Luft traveled to Princeton where they stopped for the night, sleeping on the floor in the office of the Daily Princetonian, before traveling on to Trenton to visit Dr. Henry A. Cotton (1876-1933). As the director of the New Jersey State Hospital, Cotton experimented with unusual treatments to cure insanity, of particular interest to Lew Ney, who used to commit petty crimes and plead insanity, in order to interview the patients at various asylums.

The details of this trip were recorded by Lew Ney himself who had begun publishing a series of news sheets, typed and mimeographed on rented equipment, which he would personally distribute around Greenwich Village. His first attempts were The Village Gossip and Atmosphere, which both came and went in 1919. The following year, he began The Vagabond, illustrated by Emil Luft. “This was a vagabond’s newspaper,” he declared, “a daily diary of a damn dead-for-sure Bohemian.”

Until recently only one issue of The Vagabond was known to have survived, held in Widener Library at Harvard University and dated August 23, 1920. Thanks to a visiting researcher, a second issue of The Vagabond dated November 1, 1920, has been discovered, saved by Richard Halliburton, Princeton Class of 1921, who served on the editorial board of The Daily Princetonian and became chief editor of The Princetonian Pictorial Magazine (The PIC) [Halliburton papers C0247].

The issue describes in detail the men’s journey to Princeton, their adventures along the way, and one entire page in which Lew Ney insists his readers subscribe to the various Princeton newspapers. He writes “The Princeton Pictorial, also known as PIC. Edited by another vagabond, managed by a hobo, and pictured by a tramp. Moreover the best paper of its kind in the world. Is full of vagabondia, pictures, and free advertising for Ford, Cookstours, Herlick’s Malted Milk tablets, … and such.” This praise might be repayment for Halliburton’s friendship during their visit.

“Fortune smiled on Emil and I when we met Dick Halliburton, managing editor of the PIC at the Frenchman’s lunch room past midnight [elsewhere described as “a lunch room where French is spoken free and lunches served a la carte. We eat 95¢ worth”]. Emil made a sketch of Dick on page 3. He waited for us to finish our saw dust and milk and then led us away to his office. I moved or removed our bulky baggage [to] the Princetonian’s office and suggested to him that I wanted to make a stencil and he invited both of us to remain as long as we cared to. He stuck around himself until 2:30 a.m. and then went home to spend an hour telling his room-mate all about us.

Emil helped himself to a bath in the basement and came up ready for bed as soon as Dick left. And so I spread out the blanket on the bare floor, put a chair against the door, and put out the lights. At eight I was up and banging away on the typewriter again. The janitor entered and grinned when he saw Emil’s bare feet, and several students came to the door for information. One intimated that Dick might have invited us to his club, where there is lots of room – on the floor. We were satisfied with our lot, however, I for one preferring floors to beds.”

There is no other recorded contact between Lew Ney and Halliburton, who was lost at sea and presumed dead in 1939. However, this visit may have had a lasting impression on the Greenwich Village bohemian and may have been one small influence in his final bequest to the University.
See more:
Daily Princetonian, Volume 7, Number 13, 6 October 1928 — WELL KNOWN PRINCETON GRADUATE SWIMS THE PANAMA CANAL; Richard Halliburton Had to Pay His Tonnage Through the Locks to Be Allowed to Swim From the Atlantic to the Pacific Like Other Steam-boats.

Les Réverbères

Early in his career, the influential French painter and critic Michel Tapié (1909-1987), editor of Francis Picabia’s 1949 catalog 491 and author of the pivotal study Un art autre (Art of Another Kind, 1952), joined forces with the artist Aline Gagnaire (1911-1997) to produce three issues of a spectacular magazine, under a collective they called “Les Réverbères.”

Printed by hand from woodblocks, the editions are believed to have been around 31 signed copies, although the magazine is so rare it is difficult to verify. The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired two of the three issues produced in 1940 wartime Paris. Each issue has it’s own title, here showing Le Cheval de 4, the first issue, and Dédal-e, the second.

Front covers

Michel Tapié (1909-1987); Aline Gagnaire (1911-1997); Jean Jausion; Henri Bernard (1868-1941); Noël Arnaud; Simone Bry; and Adrienne Peyrot, Le cheval de 4 and Dédal-e (S.n. [Paris]: s.l., 1940). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process.

Back covers

According to the Historical Dictionary of Surrealism by Keith Aspley, the “Réverbères” club was founded in 1938 in the painter Jean Marembert’s workshop by Tapié, together with other neo-dadaist writers Jacques Bureau, Pierre Minne and Henri Bernard, who campaigned for the rehabilitation of Dada at impromptu evening parties in the Montparnasse district. With the same objective, they published this typically Dada journal, designed and produced on a small scale.

The pages of each issue are typographical masterpieces, combining literary texts using humor and vibrant color woodcuts. There are magnificent puns and spoonerisms, recapturing the extravagant spirit of the Dada pioneers Tristan Tzara or Marcel Duchamp.

This journal of exceptional visual and literary quality marks one of the last productions of the French artistic avant-garde before the start of the German oppression.

Fire Safety 1828

Giovanni Aldini (1762-1834), Habillement du pompier pour le préserver de l’action de la flamme. Par le Chev. Jean Aldini. Et instruments mis à l’exposition publique honorés d’une médaille en or par le Gouvernement L. et R. de Milan, le 4 Octobre 1828 (Milan de l’Imprimerie Impériale et Royale, [1828]). Hand colored engraved frontispiece. Graphic Arts Collection GAX N-001774

The Italian physicist Giovanni Aldini (1762-1834) is perhaps best-known for his experiments in galvanism and in lighthouse engineering. With this small pamphlet dated 1828, he introduced a protective suit for firemen lined with cloth soaked in alum for the body and asbestos cloth for the face and hands. The outer layer is made of copper wire gauze. A demonstration of the suit’s effectiveness is captured in this hand colored frontispiece, in which a fireman plunges his body into an open flame. In another print, not in this pamphlet, a firemen conducts a mock rescue using the clothing:

The artist of these scenes has been attributed by one source to the French artist Victor-Philippe-Francois Lemoine-Benoit (1800s):

This short tract is, as Aldini states on p. 15, a forerunner to a larger work which he proposes to publish the following year. This intended work Essai expérimental sur l’art de traverser les flammes et de sauver des personnes et des objets préc ieux dans les maisons incendiées was published in 1830 as Art de se préserver de l’action de flamme, with five additional engravings, unfortunately only digitized in black and white:;view=thumb;seq=1OCLC: 1734256

Not just a book, but The Book

The French poet Stéphane Mallarmé spent more than 30 years on a project he called Le Livre. This legendary, unfinished project, published posthumously in French, has now been translated into English for the first time. Below is a segment from the review, “Stéphane Mallarmé’s The Book and Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard,” by Mary Ann Caws in The Brooklyn Rail.

To take just the 72 pages of Stéphane Mallarmé’s Le Livre (originally posthumously published in French in 1957), at once fragmentary and yet feeling so completely itself, every time we encounter it, it seems a more astonishing piece of work. I always loved the way it was so majestically presented, collecting notes and drafts along with typeset pages, the poet dressed as scribe or priest of poetry, leaving the assembled audience every fifteen minutes of reciting in order to reshuffle the remaining pages, so that CHANCE would enter each time he re-appeared on the stage. For this was not just a book, but The Book.

What it means for us now, in this present rendering, is a lively reading of life as art—conceived of in the most simple and elementary terms, whose juncture we have to determine and carry out ourselves in each of our individual readings, private or collective and public. That was Mallarmé’s magic, the private as shared, the non-journalistic as both poetic and unboring, so he crossed out almost every other word to make the text less immediately graspable.

Here is the thing: Mallarmé is always the most modern—the most complicatedly modern—no matter what. As for Le Livre, or The Book, Sylvia Gorelick’s newly translated rendering (after the Scherer and the Marchal editions, to which I was bravely clinging), is deeply intelligent. After perusing her introduction to find the (absolutely) confessional mode of Mallarmé:

I am me—faithful to the

It just gets me. Of course he was, and of course we all remember his saying as he gasped, dying “Destroy it – / It would have been beautiful” about his Hérodiade—and how glad we are it did not meet that fate.

Here are a few sample pages.


Stéphane Mallarmé, Le “Livre” de Mallarmé; premières recherches sur des documents inédits [par] Jacques Schérer. Préf. de Henri Mondor (Paris: Gallimard [1957]). Firestone PQ2344 .L587 1957

Stéphane Mallarmé, The Book; translated and with an introduction by Sylvia Gorelick (Cambridge, Massachusetts : Exact Change, 2018). Firestone PQ2344 .A2 2018

Here is section 6 “Le Livre, Instrument Spirituel” published by Mallarmé in Revue Blanche, July 1895 (Firestone Recap 0904.749):