Category Archives: fine press editions

fine press editions

Nattini bindings

Volume 3 front cover
The question yesterday was, What is on the back of the Nattini binding?

As first posted in 2011, the Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to hold one complete bound set of Dante’s Divine Comedy imagined by the artist Amos Nattini (1892-1985), along with one partially unbound set. At 82 cm long and perhaps 20 pound each, these do not move from the shelf often.

Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), La Divina Commedia, Imagini di Amos Nattini (Milano: Istituto nazionale dantesco, [1923-1941]). GAX Oversize PQ4302 .F23e. Three volumes; 82 cm. each. 100 color lithographs by Amos Nattini (1892-1985).

In 1921, on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of Dante Alighieri’s death, the Istituto nazionale dantesco in Milan commissioned a new, illustrated edition of the poet’s Divine Comedy. The artist chosen for the project was Amos Nattini, who was charged with creating one plate for each canto. For the next twenty years, Nattini worked on his Dante, releasing each of the three volumes are they were completed in 1928, 1936, and finally 1941.

Perhaps because of the length of time between volumes, the first and second are bound with similar designs while the third volume has its own design. Here are the front and back, along with this lovely design for the screws. The books are now heading to conservation for a good cleaning.

Detail of volume 3 back cover.

Volume 3

We are extra fortunate in Princeton, since both the Princeton Theological Seminary and the Institute for Advanced Study Library are listed as also having sets of Nattini’s Dante. This has not been confirmed in person.

Detail of volume 1 back cover.

Volume 1 back cover

Volume 1 front cover


Special thanks go to Mike Siravo who helped to lift volumes.

José Angel Toirac’s “Parables”

Parables, with Cuban artist José Angel Toirac and writer Robert Glück, is an extension of Toirac’s life project of examining how the Cuban State has used press imagery to manufacture consent and sell the Revolution which Fidel lead in 1959,” writes Loring McAlpin, ’83. “It’s a sumptuous book meant to be a scripture for Fidel and the Cuban Revolution.”

You may have missed the evening last spring at The David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies (DRCLAS), Harvard University, where Toirac, Glück, and McAlpin present their limited edition, fine press book gathering photographs from magazines and newspapers like Granma, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, and re-purposing the Cuban Revolution as a Gospel, a new religion with a new scripture.

But you can still catch them if you happen to be in Washington D.C. in October 2018, when artists Meira Marrero, Loring McAlpin, and José Angel Toirac will join in a conversation about Parables with Michelle Bird at National Gallery of Art.

They note:

Parables (the project/exhibition) by Meira Marrero and José Angel Toirac is a collection of 33 photographs of Cuban life published by the official Cuban press. Sources range from magazines and newspapers like Granma, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, to books on the history of the revolution. These photographs constitute a narrative of the Cuban Revolution as well as a retelling of the Gospels, with Fidel Castro performing the life of Christ from his childhood in Nazareth to his ascension into Heaven. Just as Christianity appropriated pagan festivals, the Cuban state has incorporated biblical stories into its narrative of the Revolution. Christian expressions have been fashioned into official slogans such as “these are the days to unite.”

In Parables the religious roots of this idolatry are exposed. Poet, fiction writer, editor, and New Narrative theorist Robert Glück was invited to write the “scripture” accompanying these images, as if compelled by the faith they conveyed, without mention of either Fidel or Jesus. Parables (the book) is a limited-edition artist book of 33 parables, each with a corresponding image, designed by Cynthia Madansky and Loring McAlpin.

In Fidel’s Shadow: Cuban History (and Futures), One Year On


José Angel Toirac, Meira Marrero, and Robert Glück, Parables, design by Cynthia Madansky and Loring McAlpin ([New York?]: Faithful Castle Press, 2017). Graphic Arts Collection 2018 in process.



“The most influential printmaker of the first half of the century.” This is how Michael Brenson described Stanley William Hayter (1901-1988) in the New York Times, May 6, 1988.

Hayter was only 26-years-old when he established the printmaking studio Atelier 17 in Paris, where it flourished until 1940. When the Nazis invaded in September 1939, he was forced to pack what he was able and move the shop to New York City. According to Brenson, when Hayter left France, he left “behind 100 copper plates and a press, which were confiscated by the Vichy Government.”

Both a school and a commercial press, it is hard to think of a major artist of that period who did not pass through Hayter’s workshop at one time or another.

Early in 1939, Hayter conceived of a publication that could be sold to raise money for children left orphan during the war in Spain. He asked the British poet Stephen Spender (1909-1995) for a poem, who sent “The Fall of the City” and then, arranged for Aragon (1897-1982) to translate the poem into French, “Chute d’une cite.”

Next, he convinced eight artists to come to the studio and produce an etching or engraving for the project, in addition to his own contribution. The international group included Joseph Hecht (French, born in Poland, 1891–1951); Dalla Husband (Canadian, 1899–1945); Wassily Kandinsky (Russian, 1866–1944); Roderick Mead (American, 1900–1972); Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893–1983); Dolf Rieser (South African, active in England, 1893–1983); Luis Vargas Rosas (Chilean, 1897-1977); and John Buckland Wright (New Zealander, 1897–1954). I add this here intentionally since many databases, like Princeton’s, have thrown out artists’ nationality as an element for recording and searching.

A reference inquiry led to the pulling and counting of the prints in this portfolio. The etchings and letterpress text were issued unbound in a wrapper with the title Fraternity embedded in one of Hayter’s designs. Since then, many prints have been removed from various copies and sold separately, Kandinsky and Miró in particular, but happily, Princeton’s copy is complete as issued.


Fraternity ([Paris: Atelier 17], 1939). Poem by Stephen Spender, translated by Aragon. Printed at Atelier 17 in an edition of 113 copies. Etchings by John Buckland-Wright, Stanley William Hayter, Josef Hecht, Dalla Husband, Wassily Kandinsky, Roderick Mead, Joan Miro, Dolf Rieser and Luis Vargas. Sylvia Beach Collection 3938.965.336

Robert Delaunay and Vicente Huidobro

Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) and Robert Delaunay (1885-1941), Tour Eiffel. Poème par Vincente Huidobro; peintures par Robert Delaunay (Madrid: privately printed, 1918). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

In 1908, the painters Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) and Sonia Terk (1885-1979) met and fell in love but had to wait a year for her divorce to come through before they could marry. To celebrate their new life together Delaunay painted the Eiffel Tower, the first of thirty canvases depicting that  symbol of French modernity.

For the next few years the Eiffel Tower became he primary focus, just as Claude Monet painted dozens of haystacks a generation earlier. Through these paintings, he developed a personal style of Cubist fragmentation, interweaving various perspectives with the light and color from different times of the day.

When the series was finally exhibited in Paris, their friend Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) proclaimed Delaunay “an artist who has a monumental vision of the world.” Apollinaire wrote a visual poem or Calligram in honor of Delaunay’s towers and coined the term Orphism to describe the painter’s style.

In 1913, Sonia Delaunay-Terk collaborated with the Swiss-born poet Frédéric-Louis Sauser (1887-1961), better known as Blaise Cendrars, on an epic narrative, La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France, describing a Trans-Siberian railway journey concluding at the Eiffel Tower.

Deborah Wye wrote, “Comprised of brightly colored arabesques, concentric circles, triangles, and rectangles, Delaunay-Terk’s pochoir illustrations for Blaise Cendrars’s poem and its radical format have made this a landmark in the history of the modern book. . . . Calling their creation “the first simultaneous book,” Delaunay-Terk and Cendrars drew on the artistic theory of simultaneity, espoused by the artist’s husband, the painter Robert Delaunay, and modern poets.”–Artists and Prints: Masterworks from The Museum of Modern Art (2004).


When war was declared, the Delaunays left Paris and in 1918 moved to Madrid, where they opened Casa Sonia to sell Delaunay-Terk’s designs for interior decoration and fashion. That summer, Robert collaborated with the Chilean concrete poet Vicente Huidobro (1893-1948) on another simultaneous book, Tour Eiffel. Huidobro’s visual poem, dedicated to Delaunay, was letterpress printed on multi-colored papers bound with a silken cord.

They used one section of a poem published the year before in the journal Nord-Sud (named for the metro line that linked Montmartre to Montparnasse). As a nod this, Delaunay added these directional terms to his cover design: a brightly stenciled (pochoir) Eiffel Tower embedded in colorful rings, as if picking up where La prose du Transsibérien left off

The Graphic Arts Collection has finally acquired a copy of this important volume for Princeton.



After the war, they returned to Paris and Delaunay went back to the Eiffel Tower as subject matter, further exploring his colorful Orphism. Delaunay-Terk expanded her textile design business, creating fashions for individual clients and for theatrical performances.


Robert Delaunay, “Eiffel Tower,” 1924. Oil on Canvas, 161.6 cm x 96.8 cm. Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis.

Clinker Press

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a selection of fine press editions from Clinker Press in Pasadena, California. Andre Chaves runs this a private letterpress studio, with an emphasis on material relating to the Arts and Crafts Movement. He writes, “Within this focus I print subjects relating to art and literature. Although I do not do job printing, some special projects would be considered upon their own merits, as long as it falls within these parameters.” For a complete list of books still in print, see:

“Clinker Press was started in 1996,” Chaves continues, “urged by Peter Hay, Carl Heinz and Helen Driscoll. Peter owned Book Alley, an antiquarian bookstore, and is an Oxford graduate who allowed me to use a small Kelsey press. Helen owned a paper store and now runs a very successful company called Invitesite. Carl teaches the History of design. We printed together and I provided the “garage” in a Greene and Greene house surrounded by ‘clinker bricks’. I first invested in a Chandler and Price platen and we started printing. Peter was the first to drop off, followed by Helen and then by Carl, although Carl continues to print on his own and Helen’s business is also about printing.”

Here are a few examples.

American Editors

Edna Woolman Chase (1877–1957), editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine from 1914 to 1952. Detail from Doris Ulmann’s A Portrait Gallery of American Editors, full page below.

In 1924, when Doris Ulmann (1882-1934) began photographing the leading magazine and newspaper editors in the United States, she made 43 portraits; 41 were men and 2 were women.

Many of the sitters Ulmann met through The Art Center on 56th Street, incorporated in 1921 to bring together seven organizations: Art Alliance of America, Art Director’s Club, American Institute of Graphic Arts, New York Society of Craftsmen, Pictorial Photographers of America, Society of Illustrators, and the Stowaways.

Elmer Adler (1884-1962), founder of Princeton’s Graphic Arts Collection and a member of AIG and the Stowaways, was the original owner of our book.

A student of the Clarence White School, Ulmann published three volumes of portraits printed in photogravure between 1919 and 1925: The Faculty of the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University in the City of New York: Twenty-Four Portraits (1919), A Book of Portraits of the Faculty of the Medical Department of the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore (1922), and A Portrait Gallery of American Editors (1925).

With each, she collaborated with a small circle of friends from the White School and The Art Center, including the Center’s president, Frederic W. Goudy (1865-1947). Goudy designed and arranged the type for her books and Bertha M. Goudy (1869-1935) set the type at their Village Press, which had recently moved from Queens to Marlborough-on-Hudson. The photogravures were engraved and printed from her negatives by Harry M. Phillips at his Manhattan Photogravure Company, 142 W. 27th Street.

At an Art Center meeting, Goudy introduced the typeface he used:

“Members were gratified and reassured to see our ex-president, F. W. Goudy, at the March 22 meeting, the first public affair he had attended since his operation and convalescence. Many compliments were heard that evening, and since, concerning Mr. Goudy’s new typeface, “Garamont,” a classic interpretation of the face used by Geoffrey Tory’s pupil. In further celebration of Mr. Goudy’s return to health and productivity, the Committee on Publications in April distributed to members, as one of their “keepsakes,” Clarence White’s portrait study of Mr. Goudy, reproduced in gravure by Harry M. Phillips of Manhattan Photogravure Company.”–Bulletin of The Art Center May 1923 [Keepsake: Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2010-0022F].

Their friend Ralph Steiner (1899-1986) also worked for Phillips at Manhattan Photogravure during the early 1920s when they producing the photogravures of Robert Joseph Flaherty’s negatives for Revillon Frères. It is likely that Steiner also worked on Ulmann’s books. . Steiner went on to become photographer for Adler’s Pynson Printers,

Note: Each of the sitters was asked to write a short statement about themselves and their work. All except one was published. Why is there no text along with the portrait of Elizabeth Cutting (1871-1946)? Did she not write one or was it considered unacceptable and not printed?

Cutting’s 1947 obituary in New York History notes that she received a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.A. from Columbia University. She joined the editorial staff of Harper’s Bazaar in 1907 before moving to The North American Review in 1910, serving as managing editor from 1921 to 1927. She was among the founders of the Cosmopolitan Club in New York and made a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government. It is too bad her statement, if there was one, does not appear.

Doris Ulmann (1882-1934), A Portrait Gallery of American Editors, Being a Group of XLIII Likenesses by Doris Ulmann; with critical essays by the editors and an introduction by Louis Evan Shipman (New York: W.E. Rudge, 1925). Copy 193 of 375. “The types, designed and arranged by Frederic W. Goudy, have been set by Bertha M. Goudy at the Village Press, Marlborough-on-Hudson, New York. Presswork by William Edwin Rudge, Mt. Vernon, New York.” Graphic Arts Collection GAX Oversize 2006-0205F

See also: Elizabeth Brown Cutting, Old Taverns and Posting Inns (London: G.P. Putnam, 1898).

Gladstone in his Temple of Peace

Joseph Parkin Mayall (1839-1906), William Ewart Gladstone, 1883. Photogravure. Published in Artists at Home, edited by Frederick George Stephens (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1884). Graphic Arts Collection GAX Oversize 2007-0028F

Joe Mayall was forty-three when he left work in the family business established by his father, daguerreotypist John Jabez Edwin Mayall (1813–1901), and opened his own photography studio at 548 Oxford Street, near the Marble Arch in 1882.

The following year, the firm Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington proposed a series of luxury prints depicting prominent artists of the day in their homes, surrounded by their work. Equal weight was to be given to the men and the interiors, featuring “pictures, sculptures, and other objects of art which characterise those places,” according to the prospectus. Since Sampson Low had already retired from the firm, credit for the project might go to Edward Marston (1825-1914), who continued to publish luxury volumes.

Art critic George Stephens (1828-1907) was hired to write the biographies and Mayall secured the commission to make the portraits. Forty-eight men were photographed but only twenty-five appear in the final publication, issued monthly from March to August 1884. Each part cost five shillings, with the final bound volume priced at 42 shillings (£2.40). Mayall’s assistant Frank Dudman (1855-1918) filed his own name to the copyright on many of the negatives.

From the beginning, the portraits were planned as photogravures, advertised in the prospectus as the “entirely new and unquestionably permanent process of photoengraving.” When the book was later reviewed, it was called a “marvels of skill and workmanship.” Thanks to the exhibition at Emery College, we learn that “the first set of photogravures was printed in Paris, but something went awry with one of the plates, and although the March 1st publication date had been confidently announced for weeks, that initial installment was embarrassingly delayed.” Chiswick Press printed the rest of the volume but there is no information on the engraver who made and printed of the plates.

The book is dedicated to Frederic Leighton (1830-1896) [below] but he was pushed aside at the last minute to feature Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) as the frontispiece. Although not a painter, he was an Honorary Professor of Ancient History at the Royal Academy. Photographed in his library at Hawarden Castle, Gladstone later became the subject of an article Mayall published describing the two days spent photographing; “Mr. Gladstone at Home. The Whole-Hearted Homage of a Hero-Worshipper,” Pall Mall Gazette no. 7600 (July 27, 1889).

“I packed up my apparatus and started off with my assistant on January 15, 1883, by the 5:15 A.M. train, from Euston. We arrived at Broughton Hall in due course, distant about two miles from Hawarden Castle, which was visible from the railway station. We drove over in a trap. The day was dull and unpromising for photography.”

“Now came the technical and other difficulties to be surmounted in taking a photograph of Mr. Gladstone in his sitting-room [known as the] ‘Temple of Peace.’ . . . Mrs. Gladstone suggested to me that if I found the books in the way they could be removed. I said, ‘No! madam, don’t touch them. I am somewhat of a bookworm myself, and am jealous of any one disturbing my books. I will bring that much-treasured bookcase in view when I photograph Mr. Gladstone,’ which I afterwards did.”

“…All the preparations being made and ready, the camera in site, double slides charged, and a good solid head-rest placed behind the chair, Mr. Gladstone was seated and I exposed the plate 120 seconds. Mrs. Gladstone and her son, who were in the library at the time, thought that I had exposed the plate five minutes, the time seemed so long. I said no, I had counted 120 long seconds, so Mr. Gladstone very good naturedly said, “Photographic seconds,” which I explained must be lengthened out if possible, as every photographer dreads under- exposure.”

Joseph Parkin Mayall (1839-1906), Frederic Leighton, Baron Leighton, ca. 1883. Photogravure. Published in Artists at Home, edited by Frederick George Stephens (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington, 1884). Graphic Arts Collection GAX Oversize 2007-0028F

Joel Shapiro and Hart Crane

In 1916, Hamilton Easter Field (1872-1922) expanded the Ardsley School of Graphic Arts to include three buildings, 106-110 Columbia Heights, at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Many artists and writers were invited to stay with the Fields over the years and even when Hamilton died suddenly in 1922, many of the rooms continued to be used for temporary housing. Hart Crane (1899-1932) stayed there in the 1920s and was inspired by his view of the bridge. The rest is history.

Now eighty-seven years after Crane’s poem “The Bridge” was first published, Arion Press released a new edition with seven woodblock prints by sculptor Joel Shapiro. The Graphic Arts Collection received its copy today. It is an ambitious and innovative project, so I will quote from their prospectus, which can be read in full here:

The edition also includes a specially commissioned essay on the poem by Langdon Hammer, Niel Gray, Jr. Professor of English & Department Chair, Yale University, in a separate bound volume. An article adapted from this essay can be read in The New York Review of Books:

The publisher, Andrew Hoyem, conceived of a scroll format for “The Bridge” while he and senior editor Diana Ketcham were on a two-week tour of China in April 2017 organized by the Grolier Club, an association of bibliophiles in New York City. The theme of the trip was the history of paper, type, printing, binding, and the collecting of books, both private and institutional, in China.

During the first week they visited the Red Star Paper Company in Wuxi, Anhui Province. The Chinese government has recently sought to revive and support traditional crafts. Red Star is the fore-most producer of handmade paper in the nation, using ancient methods and many plant fibers in exacting proportions to make sheets of beautiful thin paper, used mainly for calligraphy and ink and watercolor painting.

In Beijing they visited the most important book collector in China, who showed them an unmounted scroll from the eighth century. Hoyem was inspired to order handmade paper from the mill and to make “The Bridge” in a single-spool scroll format. The book is 13½ inches tall and over 50 feet long, made up of joined sheets measuring 13½ by 25 inches.

Our book is no. 117 of 300. It is interesting to note that Hoyem handset the long poem himself because typesetters on staff were busy with other projects.

“The type he chose is French Elzevir, 16-point for the text, 24-point for titles, and 10-point for subsidiary material. It is based on a modernized French oldstyle, cast by American Typefounders in the early twentieth century, purchased by the San Francisco printer John Henry Nash as new, and then acquired by the Grabhorn Press in the 1930s when Nash went out of business, then inherited by Hoyem in 1973.”

Hart Crane (1899-1923), The Bridge. Woodblock prints by Joel Shapiro, essay by Langdon Hammer, photographs by Michael Kenna (San Francisco: The Arion Press, 2017). “Scroll format, 13-1/2″ x 50′, set by hand and printed by letterpress in black on handmade Chinese paper, with 7 images bound in, presented in a box along with a separate volume containing the introduction.”–Publisher’s website. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process

Es ist bitter, die Heimat zu verlassen

Romano Hänni, Es ist bitter, die Heimat zu verlassen [It is Bitter to Leave Your Home] (Basel: Hänni, 2017). Number 21 of 87 copies of the standard edition. Text in German, English, and Japanese. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process

Swiss artist Romano Hänni has spoken passionately about the devastating effects of contamination from nuclear facilities. His new book Es is bitter die Heimat zu verlassen concerns the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that occurred on March 11, 2011, as well as the ongoing impact of radioactive contamination.

Hänni writes that claims made by nuclear scientists “that no health consequences are to be expected from contamination are unscientific, immoral, and criminal.” He further states that “there is no peaceful use for nuclear energy. It is repressive, criminal and deadly. Only nuclear plants that have not been built can offer absolutely safety.”

His newest book is printed in five colors on paper towels, a technique the artist perfected with an earlier work: Typo bilder buch: von Hand gesetzt und auf der Handabziehpress gedruckt. Graphic Arts RCPXG-7350409. Small selections of text are juxtaposed with letters, images, and symbols to communicate the event and its aftermath. 

The artist writes “Work on this book began in December 2013, was interrupted by some commissioned work, and lasted until June 2017. The page format was determined by the paper: paper towels, maxi roll . . . The printing forms were composed from individual parts and printed on the hand proofing press. The Japanese text was [cast] and composed in the type foundry Sasaki Katsuji in Tokyo and delivered to Basel. For most of the pages several printing forms and printing runs are needed. The body of the book was bound by hand with thread. Overall production time was approximately 1400 hours.”

Minnesota Center for the Book: “Educated at the Basel School of Design, [Romano] Hänni returns to the core values of traditional printing technique and modernist European design. The strict limitations of hand typesetting are his cornerstone, everything composed from the incremental units of type and spacing available in the type shop. Hänni’s work encompasses a wide range of fields in visual communication, from books, magazines, catalogs and newspapers to drawings, photography and journalism about design and everyday culture.”


The book is accompanied by a glossy 12-page color pamphlet with 108 photographs documenting the production process for this publication.


Birds from Byzantium



Peter Lyssiotis, Birds from Byzantium = Pouliá tou Vyzantíou (Melbourne, Vic.: Masterthief, 2010). Text was written in 2009 at the Monastery of Mavrovouni in the Larnaca district of Cyprus. Greek translation by Andreas Psilides and Lefteris Olympios. Images by Peter Lyssiotis. Binding by Wayne Stock. Copy 17 of 18. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process

The artist writes “Birds from Byzantium has been made in an edition of [18] and has been printed duotone on Mohawk Superfine paper. The text has been set in columns, justified to both left and right with no regard to word breaks as this was one of the design elements of the earliest hand scripted Bibles. Sure it makes the text difficult to read but it also traps the eye and gives a nod to tradition.

The images are collages. As a backdrop they have a Bible commentary in Greek. The collages have been made so the text has a place to rest. On some pages there are drawings in ink by Lefteris Olympios. The binding is by Wayne Stock and has used aspects of Byzantine book design and place them in a contemporary setting: for example, the use of circles, the X, the use of gold, the [choice] of burgundy for the colour of the cloth and the bands on the spine.”

Peter Lyssiotis:

See also:
Leonie Sandercock, Cosmopolis II: mongrel cities in the 21st century. Images by Peter Lyssiotis (London; New York : Continuum, 2003). Firestone Library (F) HT166 .S219 2003

Silent scream: political and social comment in books by artists: an exhibition, 26th September-26th November 2011, Monash University Rare Books Library within the Sir Louis Matheson Library curated and catalogue commentaries by Monica Oppen and Peter Lyssiotis (Sydney, Australia: Bibliotheca Librorum apud Artificem; Melbourne: Monash University Rare Books Library, 2011). Marquand Library (SA) N7433.3 .S545 2011