Category Archives: Ephemera

Early Bookplates

Bookplate for Jacobus Maximilianus, count of Collalto and San Salvatore and count of the Holy Roman Empire, engraved in 1771 by Teodoro Viero (Italian, 1740–1819)

While searching our collections for Piranesi’s bookplate, other interesting prints turned up.
Here are a few.

Hand colored bookplate of the French politician Pierre de Maridat (1613-1689), Councillor at the Grand Conseil (1640), inscribed “Curae numen habet justu move 40 Eneid. / Inde cruce hinc trutina armatus regique deoque milito disco meis hcec duo nempe libris / ex libris Petri Maridat in magno Regis consilio Senatoris.”

Bookplate for David Garrick (1717-1779), engraved around 1755. Above is a bust of Shakespeare and below the inscription “La premiere chose qu’on doit faire quand on a emprunte un Livre, c’est de la lire afin de pouvoir le rendre plutot. Menagiana. Vol. IV.” = “The first thing one must do when one borrows a book is to read it in order to be able to give it back. Menagiana. Vol. 4.”


Bookplate of the booksellers C.S. Jordani and Associates, with their motto “Dulces ante omnia musae” (Sweet before all muses) at the top and below “Deus nobis haec otia fecit” (God has given us this tranquility, Virgil, Eclogues I, l.6).


Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723-1792) bookplate engraved by Francesco Bartolozzi (1727-1815).


Liebig Company’s Trade Cards

Times of the day


If you have been to the south bank arts complex in London and seen the tower labeled OXO, you were enjoying the Art Deco design of architect Albert Moore, who reconstructed the complex in the late 1920s for the Liebig Extract of Meat Company, manufacturers of Oxo beef stock cubes.

The company was founded and named for the chemist Justus von Liebig (1803-1873) who developed a beef extract in 1847, which was consumed in great quantities throughout Europe.

Almost as popular as Liebig’s extract were the chromolithographic trade cards he produced and distributed. From 1872 into the 1970s, the company printed cards featuring every imaginable profession and genre. Collectors number the cards at 11,000 distributed in 14 countries and languages.

Princeton has a small group, not all complete sets but in beautiful condition. Here are a few examples.

From the Life of a famous painter
Painters and sculptors

Justus von Liebig, Introduction à l’étude de la chimie (Paris: L. Mathias, 1837). Recap 8306.584.1837

Carlo Paoloni, Justus von Liebig; eine Bibliographie sämtlicher Verőffentlichungen mit biographischen Anmerkunge (Heidelberg: C. Winter, 1968) Z8504.52.P365 1968

Justus von Liebig, Experimental Chemie ([Darmstadt?], 1848). QD43.B75 1848

Justus von Liebig, Liebig’s Complete Works on Chemistry (Philadelphia: T.B. Peterson, 1852). QD28.L54 1852

A Letter to Bailey and His Elephant, part 3

Thanks to the help of Jennifer Lemmer Posey, Associate Curator of the Circus Museum at The Ringling and Editor of Bandwagon, The Journal of the Circus Historical Society, we have the identity of the gentlemen seated above, drawn on an envelope by Henry Herman Cross (1837-1918) and mailed June 30, 1884, to James Anthony Bailey (1847-1906).

He is the entrepreneur and circus owner Adam John Forepaugh (1831-1890), once called ‘the Nobelist Roman of them all.’ From 1865 through 1890, Forepaugh owned and operated a circus under various names including Forepaugh’s Circus, The Great Forepaugh Show, The Adam Forepaugh Circus, and Forepaugh & The Wild West. His operations were at least equal to or larger than those of P. T. Barnum.

Forepaugh’s outfit “even claimed forty elephants for the 1883 season in response to the birth of P. T. Barnum’s ‘baby elephant’ at his winter quarters barns in Bridgeport the year before. The ‘Elephant wars’ of the 1880s were a result of a generation of gambling management tactics that many people understood as bluster.” — Susan Nance, “Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the Business of the American Circus,” JHU Press, Jan 14, 2013.

A Letter to Bailey and His Elephant, part 2

In 1880, as James Anthony Bailey (1847-1906) was negotiating with P.T. Barnum (18101-1891) for the purchase of the baby elephant named Columbia, owned and exhibited in the “Cooper, Bailey & Company Great London Circus,” the artist Henry Herman Cross (1837-1918) wrote to Bailey. The envelope is beautifully illustrated with a drawing of Cooper and Bailey on the right and Barnum on the left.

The portrait of Bailey’s baby that Cross discusses in his letter is not a family portrait but the painting of his elephant. Bailey writes that it is “a magnificent production and when finished you will do me the honor and credit to acknowledge the fact, that it is no conceit, or egotistical boast of mine—but an actual fact, for it delights every one who has witnessed it in its yet incomplete state.” Cross confirms he will bring it to Boston so he can finish it by placing a portrait of Bailey alongside the elephant.

(This letter cost 12 cents to mail in 1880)

Cross worked on a drawing for Harper’s Weekly but only this article was published, announcing “A Baby Elephant.”

A very interesting event—the birth of a baby elephant—took place at the circus stables of Cooper & Bailey, Philadelphia, early in the morning of March 10. The importance of the affair to the world of science will be realized when it is stated that it is the first authenticated instance of the kind that has ever taken place among these animals in a state of captivity. It is said that a similar event occurred in London some time during the last century, but there is no positive proof in regard to it.

At the sides of the stable-room where this little creature was born were a number of large elephants chained to posts, while Hebe, the mother, was chained in the centre of the room, where she was safe from molestation. The moment the baby was born, the other elephants set up a tremendous bellowing, threw their trunks about, wheeled around, stood on their hind – legs, and cavorted and danced in the highest glee, as though they had gone mad. The excitement communicated itself to Hebe, and she became almost frantic. With a terrific plunge she broke the chains and ropes which held her, and grasping up the little baby elephant with her trunk, threw it about twenty yards across the room, letting it fall near a large hot stove—where a fire is always kept burning—then followed with a mad rush, bellowing and lashing her trunk as though she would carry everything before her. . .

A Letter to Bailey and His Elephant

If you have seen a 19th-century Barnum & Bailey circus wagon, you have seen the painting of Henry Herman Cross (1837-1918). Although trained in Paris to be a portrait painter, Cross ran away to join the circus and spent many years traveling with the shows as their graphic artist. He even made trips to Africa with Bailey to acquire animals. Cross’s work is also found on backdrops, posters, newspapers, and brochures for his friend ‘Buffalo’ Bill Cody.

The Graphic Arts Collection holds several envelopes decorated by Cross, which were mailed to James Anthony Bailey (1847-1906), the partner of P.T. Barnum (18101-1891). As everyone knows, Barnum and Bailey  (and Cooper) merged their individual circuses in 1881 to form “P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Show On Earth.”

Bailey and Cooper had been operating the “Cooper and Bailey Circus,” which featured a baby elephant known as Columbia, advertised as “the first elephant born in the United States.” Barnum wanted to buy the elephant for his circus but Bailey would not sell. Eventually, they agreed to combine the two operations, featuring the elephant now known as Jumbo.

One envelope is dated 1881 and another 1884. Although Barnum and Bailey were only together a few years, it was not a happy partnership and men separated in 1885. On the envelope seen above, Bailey is pictured on the right spoon feeding pap to a baby elephant while Barnum is seen on the left impersonating an elephant in an exhibition case. A proclamation claims this to be “the only baby elephant ever born on wheels.”


Today, the largest collection of Cross’s paintings can be seen at the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Buffalo Bill Historic Center in Cody, Wyoming, also houses many canvases. See the exhibition catalogue: H.H. Cross (1837-1918), The T.B. Walker collection of Indian portraits; 125 reproductions of paintings by Henry H. Cross, of which 22 are in color (Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1948). Western Americana (WA) 2009-2369N

H.H. Cross, Buffalo Bill, William Frederick Cody. ©Gilcrease Museum

Fine Press Book Fair

Despite the cold weather, a large crowd showed up for the 4th annual Manhattan Fine Press Book Fair on Saturday, March 11, in the basement of the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer.

Exhibitors included Abecedarian Gallery, Denver, CO; Alice Austin, Philadelphia, PA; Booklyn, Brooklyn, NY; Ken Botnick, St. Louis, MO; Bridge Press, Westmoreland, NH; Caliban Press, Canton, NY; Center for Book Arts, New York, NY; Gerald W. Cloud Rare Books, SF, CA; Edition Schwarze Seite, Scheer/Donau, Germany; Furious Day Press, New York, NY; Leslie Gerry Editions, Gloucestershire, UK; Harsimus Press, Jersey City, NJ; Intima Press, New York, NY; Lead Graffiti, Newark, DE; Leopard Studio Editions, Rochester, NY; Nancy Loeber, Brooklyn, NY; Luminice Press, Philadelphia, PA; Russell Maret, New York, NY; Midnight Paper Sales, Stockholm, WI; Mixolydian Editions, Petaluma, CA; Sarah Nicholls, Brooklyn, NY; Olchef Press, Newark, NJ; Otter Bookbinding, Woking, Surrey, UK; Pied Oxen Printers, Hopewell, NJ; Sarah Plimpton, New York, NY; Purgatory Pie Press, New York, NY; Robin Price Publisher, Middletown, CT; Maria Veronica San Martin, Brooklyn, NY and Santiago, Chile; Shanty Bay Press, Shanty Bay, Ontario, Canada; Sherwin Beach Press, Chicago, IL; Swamp Press, Northfield, MA; Tideline Press, West Sayville, NY; Traffic Street Press, New York, NY; Two Ponds Press, Rockport, ME; University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA; and Whittington Press, Gloucestershire, UK.

Ephemera collectors came early and stayed late, browsing through the bins.

Material varied enormously from old to new, small to large, unique and mass produced.

Enjoy the last day of the ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair at the Park Avenue Armory.

Selling Cigarettes with Suffragettes

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired an original watercolor advertisement for Park Drive cigarettes depicting suffragettes marching outside the House of Parliament in October 1908. The women’s sashes read “Vote for … Park Drive.” It is a rare and curious piece of commercial ephemera for a proposed advertisement that never found its way into print.

In 1857, Thomas Gallaher (1840-1927) started his own one-man business hand-rolling tobacco and selling it from a cart. Gallaher became a limited company in 1896 and a few years later received a Royal Warrant from Queen Victoria.

The conglomerate, Imperial Tobacco, was formed in 1901 by the combination of thirteen leading British tobacco companies. Gallaher alone refused to join and all his advertisements from that time on included the statement: “We belong to no ring or combine.”

The introduction of machine-made cigarettes, called Park Drive, led to enormous growth and by 1907, the company employed more than 3,000 people, primarily women. Their first London factory opened at 67 Clerkenwell Road, the same area where Sylvia Pankhurst sought to unite the women’s movement with that of the working class. It’s possible someone, maybe even Gallaher, thought it would be useful to associate his company with the interests of the “Gallaher’s Girls,” who were sympathetic with the suffragettes.

Later a series of cigarette cards were marketed, including pretty girls, movie stars, and military officers.

For more on the history of the Gallaher Firm see:



Advertisements that were published include:

Early Soviet Sheet Music Online

Last spring, the Graphic Arts Collection, together with Thomas Keenan, Slavic, East European, and Eurasian librarian, purchased 100 pieces of illustrated Early Soviet sheet music:

Over the year, the collection has been conserved, catalogued, rehoused, and digitized. We are happy to announce these fragile sheets are now available online at:

The collection includes music scores published from 1920 to 1937, with numerous composers and lyricists (primarily Russian but also European and American) represented. Most scores were published in Moscow or Leningrad. Other imprints include Rostov-na-Donu, Kiev, Kharʹkov, and Tiflis; and most are popular music, jazz or dance music. The covers were designed by many different artists.

Many staff members worked on this project but thanks in particular to Joyce Bell, who did the coding in record time so that the collection would be ready for the spring semester.

Here is the call number if you would like to come to our reading room and see them in person: Graphic Arts Collection. F-000050. Here is a pdf list of the complete set of 100 pieces of music: Link

Taufenpatenbrief or Godparent’s letter, 1781

Baptism Certificate. Folding, stencil-colored, engraved, and letterpress congratulatory “baptism letter” from a godparent ([Bavaria or Austria], July 20, 1781). Graphic Arts Collection 2017- in process

A square half-sheet (158 x 155 mm) with letterpress text on the inner side and nine stencil colored engraved scenes, each in its own compartment, on the outer side. The certificate is filled in with a place name (?) abbreviated Hoh., a date: 20 July 1781 and a name: Maria Sabina Schneiderin.


The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have acquired a very well-preserved devotional ephemeron: a Taufbrief or Taufenpatenbrief, i.e., “Baptism letter” or “Godparent’s letter.”

It was customary in Germany for godparents to send their godchildren painted, handwritten, or printed good luck wishes on the occasion of their baptisms. These folded paper objects often contained small coins, and served as both a certificate of blessing and as religious instruction for young children: illustrated with scenes related to the meaning of baptism, they were preserved for the child’s edification when he or she reached an appropriate age.

In the 18th century printers developed a gamut of formats for these delightful paper-toy documents, which are now understandably rare. The earliest engraved folded baptism letters known to Spamer, as well as similarly presented marriage greetings, dated from the mid-18th century. See Adolf Spamer, Das kleine Andachtsbild, vom XIV. bis zum XX. Jahrhundert. Mit 314 Abbildungen auf 218 Tafeln und 53 Abbildungen im Text (München, F. Bruckmann, 1930). RECAP  Oversize N7640.S78q p. 242.

Earlier examples were usually handwritten on parchment. See also Michael Twyman’s chapter on ‘Baptismal Papers’ in: Maurice Rickards (1919-1998), The Encyclopedia of Ephemera… edited and completed by Michael Twyman (GARF  Oversize NC1280 .R52 2000q)


To see the letter in action, play this very short video. Thanks to Patrick Crowley, Project Cataloging Specialist, for his help unfolding the sheet.

Tippecanoe and Morton Too

Paper Lantern for the Harrison and Morton Campaign, ca. 1888. 8 panels printed in 5 colors, 23 inches tall, manufactured by Sprague & French of Norwalk, Ohio. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2017- in process

This paper novelty was produced for the 1888 presidential campaign of Benjamin Harrison (1833-1901) and his running mate Levi Parsons Morton (1824-1920). Each panel has a different printed image, including portraits of Harrison; Morton; the United States Capital; “Harrison and Morton” superimposed on the United States flag; a log cabin with “Tippecanoe and Morton Too 1840-1888”; and an unidentified young girl. Similar lanterns survive from the campaigns of Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and others.

Norwalk, Ohio’s largest business during the second half of the nineteenth century was Sprague and French, where they produced paper novelties (for advertising) and umbrellas. “Colonel J. H. Sprague, a prominent manufacturer of Norwalk, was born in New York City February 15. 1846 . . . .   At the age of fourteen, Colonel Sprague entered Watertown University, and in the same year, in the spring of 1861, though still only fourteen years old, he enlisted in Company A, Nineteenth New York Infantry, as sergeant.

After taking part in the first Battle of Bull Run he was detailed to the secret service department under Colonel Baker, and did duty in the grounds at the White House at Washington, where he became acquainted with Lincoln, also Stanton, Seward and many other men in prominent government positions. . . .

In 1880 [Sprague] was appointed general manager for Piano Harvesting Company of Illinois and in 1887 started his present enterprise, manufacturing umbrellas and novelties. The firm was first Sprague & French, and in 1890 was incorporated as the Sprague Umbrella Company, of which Colonel Sprague is principal owner and president.” –Harriet Taylor Upton and Harry Gardner Cutler, History of the Western Reserve, Vol. 3 (Lewis Publishing Company, 1910)

The company quickly grew to employ over 200 primarily female workers. Unfortunately, in 1890, a cyclone leveled the factory resulting in several deaths.