Category Archives: Ephemera

O heart take notice! A transformation letter

Letter completely folded. Possible translation: A letter to me and you is easy to give. The postage is low, accept it eagerly. The content is about you, me, and everyone; the places we go, that is and means, O heart take notice!

First unfold

Second unfold

Third unfold

Side one

Side two

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired this religious transformation letter, divided into nine panels each front and back, with rhyming couplets to match the engraved illustrations.

Scenes include Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden; the crucifixion; and an overall message of the transience of life. The work is described in the August 2, 1835 issue of the Allgemeine Kitchenzeitung,  where it is called a wonderful new invention. The author writes, in part:

… Now you lift the lower and last cover of the letter, the same figures appeared, from the head to the loins in the same clothing, but from then on to the feet as the most hideous skeletons, with a few Symbols that are supposed to reinforce fear in the mind and imagination. For example, with a corpse lying in a coffin, eaten by greedy snakes seen everywhere …

Rare Books and Special Collections holds a number of similar books and prints–sometimes called Harlequinades or Turn-Ups or Metamorphosis or Transformation books–but this might be the first one in German. The English and French examples are much earlier. See a few more: See also Cotsen collection, Print case LA / Box 11465710.


Ein Brief an mich und Dich ist cito abzugeben. Das Porto ist gering, nimm ihn begierig an. Der Inhalt zielt auf Dich auf mich und Jedermann, der Ort wohin her soll, der ist und heisst, O Herz merk’s eben!. [No Place, no printer, 1835]. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process


The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired two Stanhopes, also called Bijoux Photomicroscopiques. Rene Dagron (1819-1900) patented these devices, using a variation of the process developed by John Benjamin Dancer (1812-1887) to affix images to a miniature magnifying convex lens. Dagron enhanced the novelty by hiding them inside pieces of jewelry, tiny monoculars, or other souvenirs.

Sir David Brewster (1781-1868) described the Stanhope in a piece titled “On the Photomicroscope,” The Photographic Journal, January 15, 1864:

Under the name of bijoux photomicroscopiques, M. Dagron, of Paris, sent to the Exhibition of 1861 a series of these beautiful little optical instruments, which consisted of a plano-convex lens of such a thickness that its anterior focus coincided with the plane side of the lens. By placing the eye behind the convex side, these photographs, invisible almost to the eye, were seen so distinctly and so highly magnified that they excited general admiration. M. Dagron had presented some of them to the Queen, who admired them greatly; and as he was the only exhibitor, he naturally expected that the ingenuity with which he had produced a new article of manufacture would have received a higher reward than ‘Honorable Mention.’ . . . In 1860 M. Dagron had taken out a patent in France for this combination of an elongated or cylinder lens with a photograph, under the name of Bijoux Photomicroscopiques. He placed the lens in brooches and other female ornaments; and the combination became so popular, and the sale so great, that fifteen opticians in Paris invaded the patent, and succeeded in reducing it.

The first newly acquired piece is a jeweled cross with lens at the center. When you look deep inside, you see a microscopic Lord’s Prayer.


The second Stanhope now in the Graphic Arts Collection is a tiny monocular, no more than two centimeters long, with a small ring so it can be attached to a watch chain or necklace.

If you look inside, you can see a tiny reproduction of the 1882 lithograph From the Cradle to the Grave. Scenes and Incidents in the Life of Gen. James A. Garfield, produced as a remembrance of the recently murdered President Garfield.

Stanhope with the miniature From the Cradle to the Grave. Scenes and Incidents in the Life of Gen. James A. Garfield (New York: J.W. Sheehy & Co.; printed by Mayer, Merkel & Ottmann, 1882). Miniature photograph of a lithograph with James A. Garfield (1831-1881) at the center, surrounded by his family and fifteen vignettes with scenes from Garfield’s life. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process.

Below is a reproduction of the original lithograph, a little easier to see.

Abolitionist Sewing Circles

Negro Woman who sittest pining in
captivity and weepest over thy sick
child though no one seeth thee.
God seeth thee though no one pitieth thee.
God pitieth thee; raise thy voice forlorn
and abandoned one; call upon him
from amidst thy bonds for assuredly
He will hear thee.

“Reticule” is the term used by the Victoria and Albert Museum to describe this type of small handbag, usually closed with a drawstring and decorated with embroidery or beading. Dating from the 1820s, the curators at the V&A attribute the design of the abolitionist reticules to Samuel Lines (1778-1863) and the production to the Female Society for Birmingham, originally called the Ladies Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves. While several variant images can be found printed on a similar silk bags, all have the same verse from Hymns in Prose for Children by Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743-1825), first published 1781 (Cotsen Children’s Library English 18 21076).

Women played a major role in the abolitionist movement and formed sewing circles where objects decorated with abolitionist emblems were produced, either for sale or to decorate their homes. Cups and saucers, ewers, pillows, and handbags were just a few of the items produced. While the anti-slavery movement found great momentum in England at the end of the 18th century, by the 1830s the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society and other American groups organized similar activities.

The reticule seen at the top is now in the Graphic Arts Collection but here [below] are some of the other versions of this abolitionist bag.

Victoria and Albert Museum National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.

The Library of the Religious Society of Friends

Undergraduate Life at the Hampton Institute

During his years as an undergraduate at the Hampton Institute, Willis J. Hubert (1919-2007) kept a scrapbook, filling it with programs, report cards, newspaper articles, and many informal photographs of his classmates. This enormous volume bound in carved wood boards, 30 x 46 x 7 cm, provides an intimate look at undergraduate life at this primarily black school from 1936 to 1940.

According to his obituary, published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution from May 15 to May 17, 2007, Hubert went on to have a distinguished military career in which he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Not  long after he graduated from the Hampton Institute, he entered the U.S. Air Force and trained at Tuskegee Army Air Field, where Hubert was one of the original Tuskegee Airmen. He went on to be the first African American to earn an M.A. and Ph.D. (New York University) while on active duty, as well as the first to complete the Harvard Business School (Military Co-op) Statistics Training Program.

There are a number of programs from plays and musicals in the scrapbook, including a program for an appearance by the opera singer Marian Anderson.

Hubert studied agriculture at Hampton, so his horticultural club prizes and programs are also included, as well as by-laws of the college Poultry Producers Association.

Also included are a few items from other historically black colleges, which Hubert visited, including Fisk, Howard, and Tennessee State.

Japanese matchbook labels

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a collection of 425 or more matchbook labels, mainly Japanese although there are a handful of Scandinavian and German examples. The color is wonderfully bright and fresh. Here’s a small sample.

A great list of international links, if you want to see more:, then click on links.

Georg Hulbe, leather artisan

Georg Hulbe (1851-1918), Chronika Haus Heimatfreude [Cover words, Chronicle House Homeland]. Book-shaped box with embossed leather decor ([Hamburg], circa 1890/95). 33 x 42 x 10 cm. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process

We all know there are many objects that look like books but aren’t books thanks to Mindy Dubansky’s 2016 Grolier exhibition and catalogue. Here is another. It is a box with an elaborately tooled leather cover by the Art Nouveau craftsman George Hulbe (1851-1918).

If you go to Hamburg today, you will certainly visit the Hulbe-Haus on Mönckebergstraße. The jewel-like building was designed in 1910 by Henry Grell for Hulbe, to serve as his studio, gallery and shop. This was the culmination of a long series of workshops run by Hulbe, beginning in 1884 and growing into one of the largest firms in the country, employing more than two hundred workers.


We know this piece is the work of Hulbe by the two stamps worked into the leather: the first are the words “Georg Hulbe / Hamburg Berlin” on the lower front edge and on the back cover is the artist’s chop mark on the lower right.

The leather cover is beautifully worked with the central figure of an angel holding a crown bearing the initials H and J  gilded with a brush. Two clasps open to reveal a simple box with a leather strap and green linen covering.



Hulbe’s workshop designed and sold embossed leather furniture, wall treatments, bookbindings, and many other decorative arts products. His fame was so great that he was chosen to create the “Golden book of the city” as well as the leather wall coverings in the Hamburg town hall. Today, Hulbe designs can found at the Reichstag in Berlin, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. And now, Princeton University Library.

A Paper Calculator

Peter Bleich, Anweisung zum Gebrauche der allgemeinen Rechentafel, wodurch die vier Rechnungsarten auf vierfache Weise fest und sicher erlernet werden (Vienna: Mayer, 1838). [issued with]: A calculator consisting of 34 tables printed on thick paper strips & kept in a “calculating” box of blue paste-paper measuring 119 x 184 mm., with five cut-out panels for the calculations, preserved in the orig. marbled paper slipcase. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process


“Napier’s bones” was a manually-operated calculating device created in 1617 by the Scottish mathematician John Napier of Merchiston (1550-1617). His numbered rods–made of ivory, wood, metal, or heavy cardboard–could perform all types of mathematics. During the 18th and 19th centuries, many variations of Napier’s invention were tried, leading up to 1838 when Peter Bleich (1798-1871) published his own paper ‘bones.’

Bleich’s device was used by hundreds of young students to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in the classroom. The paper calculator had thirty-four movable strips or bones that fit into five panels with vertical windows to read the calculation. Princeton’s device is housed in the original marbled paper slipcase.

From 1831 until his death, Bleich lectured and taught at the Zollersche main school of Vienna, which is described in the 1851 essay Die Michael von Zoller and Franz Aloys Bernard’sche Hauptschule. His most noted publication was the 1846 educational booklet Nur Ruhe! (Silence), in which he gives 300 suggestions and hints to help keep children calm in the classroom without resorting to spanking. Unfortunately, there is no copy of Nur Ruhe! in any American library.


See also: Peter Bleach (1798-1871), Nur Ruhe! oder 300 einfache Mittel, die Ruhe in der Schule zu erhalten : ein Noth- und Hülfsbüchlein für angehende Schulmänner, denen es darum zu thun ist, die Ruhe in der Schule auf zweckmäßige Weise, ohne irgend einer Strenge, herzustellen (Wien: Meyer & Companie, 1846).

Peter Bleach (1798-1871), Die Michael v. Zoller- und Franz Aloys Bernard’sche Hauptschule im Bezirke Neubau in Wien; eine geschichtliche Darstellung dieser Lehranstalt von ihrem Entstehen im Jahre 1743, bis zum jetzigen Bestande im Jahre 1851 (Wien: Gedruckt bey L. Grund, 1851).

Peter Bleach (1798-1871), Tagesordnung eines Kindes : oder: Anleitung, wie sich ein Kind vom frühen Morgen bis in die Nacht zu verhalten hat (Wien: Mechitharisten-Congregations-Buchhandlung, 1862)


Game of the Great Exhibition of 1851

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired this unabashedly politically incorrect board game, in which people from around the world meet in London at the 1851 Great Exhibition. Caricatures of all races, creeds, and occupations are encountered as players make their way around this ‘game of the goose’ published by William Spooner.

For some reason, this game has 76 squares rather than the typical 63. The central winning square is the Crystal Palace itself with international visitors mingling outside the building.

**Note, square 34 representing the Americans holds a gun that can even shoot around corners. This is a reference to the Hartford inventor Samuel Colt (1814-1862), who brought 500 of his new Colt revolvers to display in the Exhibition.

No artist is identified on the board but the figures are redolent of Richard Doyle’s work, such as his comic An Overland Journey to the Great Exhibition, published the same year.

Artistic skits of the Great Exhibition of 1851: There were, doubtless, many of these— separate publications—in addition to the illustrations in Punch and other journals. I can mention two by distinguished men. 1. Overland Journey to the Great Exhibition, showing a few Extra Articles and Visitors, by Richard Doyle. These sketches were in nine panoramic plates in oblong quarto. 2. The Great Exhibition “Wot is to Be “; or, Probable Results of the Industry of All Nations, by George Augustus Sale. This was a folding panorama, eighteen feet in length, the designs, about 350 in number, being coloured, oblong octave. Not very long since I saw a copy of this, priced 385., in a London catalogue of second-hand books.” –Notes and Queries (March 16, 1889): 206.

Comic Game of the Great Exhibition of 1851 (London: William Spooner, 1851). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process.

See also: Richard Doyle (1824-1883), An Overland Journey to the Great Exhibition: showing a few extra articles & visitors (London: Chapman and Hall, [1851]) Graphic Arts Collection Oversize NE910.G7 D7 1851q

Brochure for “all colored cast” silent film

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a rare promotional brochure for the Norman Film Company’s 1919 silent movie, The Green Eyed Monster, its first production with an all Black cast. Billed as a “Stupendous All-Star Negro Motion Picture,” audiences found it long and so, Norman had the film cut from eight-reels to five-reels. A second release in 1920 led to great success. Although no portion of the film survives, reviews list the actors as Jack Austin, Louise Dunbar, Steve Reynolds, and Robert A. Stuart.

“The first film company devoted to the production of race movies was the Chicago-based Ebony Film Company, which began operation in 1915. The first black-owned film company was The Lincoln Motion Picture Company, founded by the famous Missourian actor Noble Johnson in 1916.

However, the biggest name in race movies was and remains Oscar Micheaux, an Illinois-born director who started The Micheaux Book & Film Company in 1919 and went on to direct at least forty films with predominantly black casts for black audiences.

Also in 1919, seeing how lucrative the growing race movie market was, Jacksonville, Florida’s Norman Film Manufacturing Company switched tracks and began making race films, starting with an all black remake of one of their earlier films.”–The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Volume 18 (2011)

“In large cities as well as in small towns, the picture broke attendance records, especially when one of the stars appeared in person to advertise it. M. Wax, of the Royal and Keystone Theaters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, happily reported that The Green-Eyed Monster had proven to be a wonderful attraction that did excellent business and pleased all of his patrons.

W. C. Kennedy of Knoxville, Tennessee, affirmed that ‘it broke house records in our 1,200-seat Gem Theater.’ … E. Silberman of the Douglas Theater in New York City found the Green-Eyed Monster to be such a ‘knock-out…that we turned them away daily’ throughout the week-long run.” –Barbara Tepa Lupack, Richard E. Norman and Race Filmmaking (2013)

Extended description:

Exaggerated comic scenes were cut from The Green-Eyed Monster, to focus on the drama and romance. When the new print was released, it was billed together with Norman’s second film The Love Bug, which was strictly caricature and broad comedy.



Conservation and care of arms and armaments

For many years, the care and housing of Princeton University Library’s collection of swords, rifles, spears, knives, and other armaments has been at the bottom of the “to do” list. Today it rose to the top and a survey of all the weapons was done.


Pieces and parts were returned to their original positions. Notes were made on sizes, shapes, and weights so the proper housing could be purchased or constructed. Care and handling was discussed. Special thanks to Lindsey Hobbs, Collections Conservator; Michael Siravo, Special Collections Assistant III; and Ashley Baker, Conservation Technician I for their ongoing work with our collections.

One of the longest carved staffs has been identified as a preist’s staff from the Toba Batak people of northern Sumatra. The local name would be Tunggal panaluan. Many similar staffs were carved to be sold to travelers. Unfortunately, it has not been dated.



More information on individual items can be found at these links: