Category Archives: fine press editions

fine press editions

Emily Preston, Bookbinder and Spiritualist


The artisan bindings of Emily Preston (1867-195?) were already being reviewed in the November 22, 1901 issue of the Brooklyn Eagle, barely a year after she opened a studio in New York City. Born in Chicago, Preston was recently returned from 15 years in Europe where she studied bookbinding in Switzerland, London, and France.


The New York Sun ran a long profile of Preston that was reprinted on January 3, 1902, in the Boston Evening Transcript under the heading “Among the Bookbinders, Some Studies with Masters of the Craft.” It mentions that her first studio was at 127 East 23rd Street, but within a few years Preston opened a bindery with Helen Haskell (Noyes, 1864-1940) in the luxury apartment building known as the St. George at 223 East 17th Street. Each floor at the St. George had only two vast apartments with an elevator between them (later converted to 44 single apartments).

According to ancestry documents, she and Haskell lived and traveled together until Helen’s death in 1940, with the exception of a few years when Helen was married to Charles William Noyes (1854-1921). By the 1920 census, Charles is renting a room on his own.

Both Preston and Haskell studied bookbinding at the Hammersmith shop of T.J. Cobden-Sanderson (1840-1922), although at different times. “I didn’t plunge into the Dove’s Bindery at the start,” Preston told the New York Sun reporter. “I began work in Vevay, Switzerland. I hadn’t the faintest idea of making bookbinding a profession, you know. I only took it up to keep from being bored.”


After a few weeks learning the Swiss technique, Preston went on to London and was surprised by Cobden-Sanderson’s insistence that she stay at least one year. But she agreed, paying 500 guineas for tuition. Although there was room for up to three students each year, Preston was alone during her first six month.

“I stayed at the bindery longer than any of the other pupils,” she commented. “At the end of the year I fitted up a studio over the Dove’s Press, which was just being installed [1893], and spent six months there, having special evening lessons from the bindery teachers.”

By 1900, Preston was in New York City, helping to establish an Arts and Crafts Society (Guild of Arts and Crafts) based on the London organization. She agreed to serve as its first president. Several years later, the Society’s division of bookworkers met in Preston’s apartment and voted to form a separate, national Guild of Bookworkers.preston3-2

In 1916, both Preston and Noyes were introduced to spiritualism after reading Sir Oliver Lodge’s Raymond, or Life and Death (New York: G.H. Doran, 1916). [Firestone BL1261 .L82 1916]. By 1920, they were practicing spiritualists, communicating with dead relatives through automatic writing. Their book, The Voice from Space: to Emily Preston and Helen Haskell Noyes (New York: Irving Press, 1920), transcribes seven lessons received from “a master,” including text unusually close to Helen’s father’s theories on the benefits of fasting and Emily’s theories on female independence.

Here is a bit of Preston’s introduction:
preston7-2Preston continued to bind books by hand into her 70s, although none are identified in OCLC or at Princeton.

The Medium Exposed? Or, a Modern Spiritualistic Séance (1906) | BFI.

Jean-Frédéric Schall, 18th-century Kardashian


John Milton (1608-1674), Le Paradis perdu, poëme par Milton; édition en anglais et en français. Ornée de douze estampes imprimées en couleur d’après les tableaux de M. Schall (Paris: André Defer de Maisonneuve, rue du Foin S. Jacques, no. 11, 1792). 12 stipple engravings, printed à la poupée. Graphic Arts Collection Oversize PR3561.F5 D8 1792q

The twelve plates, one each for the twelve books, are after paintings by Jean-Frédéric Schall (1752-1825) [below], which were after previous Milton designs by Francis Hayman (ca. 1708-1776). The plates were engraved by Alexandre L. Clément; Nicolas Colibert; Mme de Monchy; and Jean-Baptiste Gautier.


Jean-Frédéric_Schall_(1752-1825)Jean-Frédéric Schall studied at the Ecole Publique de Dessin in Strasbourg and the Académie Royale in Paris, but never became a member. “After leaving the school, Schall immediately found himself launched into the world of frivolous and romantic high society which enlivened Paris during the Ancien Régime. It was a world in which actresses from the Comédie Française, dancers and fashionable women rubbed shoulders with the financiers and princes of whom they were the mistresses. Schall quickly became the beloved painter of this world.” —Benezit Dictionary of Artists

An example of the lively circles in which Schall traveled is faithfully depicted in Louis Léopold Boilly’s painting Meeting of Artists in Isabey’s Studio (1798). Schall stands near the center of this scene [below]. The painting is currently hanging in Musée du Louvre in Paris.




veniceFine press book collectors around the world have been waiting many months for the new volume being produced at Whittington Press. This week, online comments have been springing up throughout social media sites as individuals finally received and opened their mail containing Venice.


John Craig, Venice; with 35 of his wood engravings (Risbury, Herefordshire: Whittington Press, 2016). Copy 44 of 150 in Pirate leather. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) in process

John Randle notes, “The 80 wood-engravings, and some linocuts, some with colour, have made the book a printer’s challenge. John Craig’s use of white space has, as with Britten’s Aldeburgh (2000) and The Locks of the Oxford Canal (1985), been critical, and the asymmetric imposition of type and images is based upon his precise layouts. The resulting double-page spreads can be seen almost as a series of stage sets, introducing us to the often undiscovered delights of a city which he has visited regularly for the past twenty years.

The French-fold binding style is a new departure for us. The pages are left folded at the top edge, enabling us to use a lightweight Zerkall mould-made paper, specially hot-pressed to give an extra sheen for the engravings, and allowing us to print throughout on the smooth side of the paper only.”




The book begins: “This collection of engraved illustrations is by, and for, a Venice amateur. I offer an apology; so much has been produced on the subject that one is wary of taking up yet more space on the shelf . . . and yet . . . there is some impulse that drives people to express, explain, pin down something that no other city possesses. With this in mind – (as Robert Graves puts it) ‘one still stands ready, with a boy’s presumption,/ To court the queen in her high silk pavilion’.

There is (or was) in Venice a bookshop as big as a small house that sells only ‘Venice’ books in which all the history, architecture, paintings, sculpture and topography are most expertly covered by the best authors—living and dead—the competition is enormous. For this reason I have chosen to ignore the better known set pieces and illustrated as an innocent holiday maker wandering—open mouthed—without plan or guide through the small and less known parts of the city.”


The Water of the Wondrous Isles

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William Morris (1834-1896), The Water of the Wondrous Isles (Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1897). Limited ed. of 250 copies printed on paper. Cf. Peterson. “Printed at the Kelmscott Press … The borders and ornaments were designed entirely by William Morris, except the initial words Whilom & Empty, which were completed from his unfinished designs by R. Catterson-Smith …”–Colophon. Original full limp vellum with silk ties, lettered in gilt on spine. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2016- in process


water of the wondrous2A heliogravure portrait of William Morris is tipped in as a frontispiece, engraved by Frederick John Jenkins (1872-1929), after a negative by Elliott & Fry (active 1863-1962), published 1895.


water of the wondrousThe copy of The Water of the Wondrous Isles recently acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection was once owned by Sydney Ansell Gimson (1860-1938), with a bookplate on the front pastedown designed by his brother Ernest Gimson (1864-1919). Primarily a furniture and wallpaper designer, Ernest was an early member of the Art-Workers’ Guild and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.

This might be his only attempt at a bookplate design. He gave his brother two options, writing “I have done what I can with the book plates and send you the result. They are neither of them satisfactory… I don’t understand designing for reduction. And it would require a more microscopic eye than mine to draw it real size.”


water of the wondrous3To read the entire text, in this edition, see

“In this magical setting,” writes literary historian Holly Ordway, “Morris gives us a characterization that subverts contemporary cultural norms for female behavior at a time in Victorian England when women agitated for the right to vote and equality before the law. What makes it even more complex is the issue of Birdalone’s beauty. In her world of brave knights, evil witches, and magical quests, it’s expected that damsels will be lovely. In this setting, to be the subversive character that she is without being beautiful would suggest that her independence is a compensatory mechanism, and that with physical attractiveness to fall back on she would be more traditional. As it is, her beauty seems irrelevant, making the point beauty is not a prerequisite to love, be loved, and be an individual as Birdalone is.”– “Subverting the Female Stereotype: William Morris’s The Water of the Wondrous Isles,” by Holly E. Ordway, Associate Professor, MiraCosta College

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The author and designer, William Morris, died in 1896 before the printing of his novel was finished and so, the book was published by the members of Morris’s estate. Enormously popular, OCLC lists 85 editions of the book from 1897-2016.
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16 bookSeveral years in the making, the Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to acquire copy 84/150 of the fine press, limited edition entitled 16, published at the centenary of Dublin’s 1916 Rising.

Stoney Road Press, An Post, and Poetry Ireland collaborated to produce this book, which includes four contemporary poems by Harry Clifton, Vona Groarke, Paula Meehan, and Paul Muldoon, alongside eight historical texts.

In addition, Stoney Road Press commissioned four limited edition prints by Irish artists Michael Canning, Alice Maher, Brian O’Doherty, and Kathy Prendergast. The Irish literary scholar, Professor Declan Kiberd, provides the introduction. More information on the project can be found at

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A special program on RTE radio with historian Declan Kiberd, Maureen Kennelly of Poetry Ireland, and publisher Kieran Owens was broadcast last March but it can still be hear at the above link.

Paul Muldoon, Princeton University’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities; Director, Princeton Atelier; and Professor of Creative Writing reads his own poem in Irish and Kennelly reads her translation in English.

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See also W.J. McCormack, Enigmas of sacrifice: a critique of Joseph M. Plunkett and the Dublin Insurrection of 1916 (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, [2016]). Firestone Library (F) DA962 .M243 2016

A selection from Easter, 1916
W. B. Yeats (1865-1939)

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

Nap Poems published by the Letterpress Club

nap poems4Congratulations to the members of the Princeton University Letterpress Club who printed and published their first limited edition, fine press poetry book, entitled Nap Poems. The Graphic Arts Collection is proud to receive copy 5 of 30 for Rare Books and Special Collections, a few pages of which are shown here.

The edition was set at the Typography Studio located in the Lewis Center for the Arts, 185 Nassau Street. Monica Youn, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Michael Dickman, and Ben Lerner from Creative Writing at the Center graciously donated the poems, which were printed on a Vandercook SP20 proof press using Bixler’s Garamond type.

Members of the Letterpress Club who spent the spring semester producing Nap Poems include Jazmyn Blackburn, Class of 2019; Joyce Lee, Class of 2017; Zachary Liu, Class of 2018; Shefali Nayak, Class of 2018; Duc Nguyen, Class of 2017; Kennedy Poore, Class of 2018; and Jonathan Zong, Class of 2018. Peter Kazantsev was the letterpress studio technician for the Lewis Center.

Here are a few pictures from the Club’s open house last year:
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nap poemsFor more information about classes and events at the Lewis Center, see:
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Yeats Edition of Two

At a ceremony in the White House for St. Patrick’s Day last year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny presented President Barack Obama with a volume of William Butler Yeats’s poetry, hand-printed by Mary Plunkett, the grandniece of a 1916 Rising leader. The second copy of the edition of two was given to Vice-President Joe Bidden.

Although we will not be able to collect this special edition, we will acquire the fine press book 16, which was presented to the President yesterday, 3/15/2016. This volume will be released in April by Stoney Road Press in association with An Post and Poetry Ireland. Four contemporary poets were invited to present their own responses to the Rising and its aftermath including Harry Clifton, Vona Groarke, Paula Meehan, and Princeton University’s Howard G.B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities; Professor of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts; and Director, Princeton Atelier Paul Muldoon. In addition, Stoney Road Press has commissioned four limited edition prints by four Irish artists: Michael Canning, Alice Maher, Brian O’Doherty, and Kathy Prendergast.

16 will also be featured on the RTE Radio 1 Arena Arts Show tomorrow, Thursday, at 7:00 p.m. The hour-long show will be devoted to interviews with the artists, poets, and contributors of the project and can be heard at!rii=b9_-2_83_16-03-2016_

Pierre Bergé and Umberto Eco

This winter, Pierre Bergé & Associés, in collaboration with Sotheby’s, will be auctioning the personal library of Pierre Bergé. In this video, Pierre Bergé and Umberto Eco discuss their shared passion for books and literature. Eco begins by calling the passion for very old books “quite perverted–a kind of mental ononism.” Bergé comments on his ex-libris, saying “I have great faith in this.”image002The collection, over a thousand manuscripts and books from the 15th to the 20th centuries, will be the subject of seven thematic sales at the Hôtel Drouot, starting early December 2015.

Cavafy First Edition


Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933), Poiēmata / K.P. Kavaphē; kallitechnikē ergasia Takē Kalmouchou ; philologikē epimeleia Rikas Senkopoulou (Alexandrie: Ekdosis “Alexandrinēs Technēs”, [1935]). Copy 510 of 1800. As issued with original printed tan wrappers preserved; bound in tan cloth. Stamped in script on rear cover: Vivliophilike Gonia. Graphic Arts Collection (GA) PA5610.K2 A17 1935


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“The first commercial edition of Cavafy’s work was published in 1935, two years after his death, and was edited by Rika Sengopoulou, wife of the poet’s heir. This rather luxurious . . . volume, illustrated with woodblocks by Takis Kalmouchos, ordered the poems more or less chronologically.

Since then, the “standard” edition has become George Savidis’ two-volume 1963 edition, which sought to maintain some degree of fidelity to the odd folders and booklets the poet himself had been making during the latter part of his life. Savidis is also the person who undertook to edit and publish many of the poems that were still not in circulation in 1933 when Cavafy died. In fact, he’s the one who divided the poems into the categories mentioned above.”–No Two Snowflakes, or Cavafy Canons, are Alike by Karen Emmerich

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cavafy3Things Ended

Possessed by fear and suspicion,
mind agitated, eyes alarmed,
we desperately invent ways out,
plan how to avoid the inevitable
danger that threatens us so terribly.
Yet we’re mistaken, that’s not the danger ahead:
the information was false
(or we didn’t hear it, or didn’t get it right).
Another disaster, one we never imagined,
suddenly, violently, descends upon us,
and finding us unprepared—there’s no time left—
sweeps us away.
Translated by Edmund Keeley/Philip Sherrard (C.P. Cavafy, Collected Poems. Princeton University Press, 1992)

Stamps, marks, and monograms by George Auriol

auriol9George Auriol, Le Premier Livre des cachets, marques et monogrammes. [with] Le Second Livre des monogrammes, marques, cachets et ex-libris. [and] Le Troisième Livre des monogrammes, cachets marques et ex-libris (Paris: Librairie Centrale & Henri Floury, 1901; 1908; 1924). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2015- in process

auriol2“Auriol served as writer, illustrator and editor of the Chat Noir for ten years (1883–93). He produced book covers for the Chat-Noir Guide (1888) and the two-volume Les Contes du Chat Noir (1889–91) as well as 15 programmes for the Chat Noir shadow theatre. From the end of the 1880s the bold colours and flat patterning of his illustrations and typographical designs show the influence of Japanese art.

In 1888 he created his first monograms for Rivière and himself in the style of Japanese seals, and during the next decade he produced hundreds of such monograms for artists, writers and publishers, including Rivière, Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen, Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Verlaine, Anatole France, Ernest Flammarion and others. In 1901 Henri Floury published the first collection of Auriol’s Cachets, marques et monogrammes, followed by two more volumes in 1908 and 1924.

. . . Auriol’s assimilation of Japanese aesthetics resulted in highly decorative and often abstract floral designs for hundreds of book and sheet-music covers by the avant-garde writers and composers for the publishers Enoch, Flammarion and Ollendorff as well as ornamental typography for Larousse’s encyclopedias (1895–1930) . . . Auriol’s collaboration with the G. Peignot & Frères type-face foundry (1901–5) resulted in the creation of Auriol type styles such as Française Legère and Auriol Labeur.”– Dennis Cate
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