Category Archives: Ephemera

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.

Bull Runn, forgotten comic strip

Printing plate, horizontally reversed, for Bull Runn by Carl Ed. “He is Determined to Cut This Date So Just See What He Does In Order to Put it Over On The Wife!” In this five cell strip, Bull’s wife insists that they go together to visit Gertie’s husband, Bob Robb, the auto salesman. Bull breaks a jewelry store window and gets taken to jail to get out of it. Then, when his wife is not looking, he reimburses the store owner.

Cartoonist Carl Ed’s obituary ran in The New York Times on October 11, 1959: “Carl Frank Ludwig Ed, creator of the Harold Teen comic strip, died today a short time after he had been admitted to Evanston (Ill) hospital. He was 69 years old. Mr. Ed, who pronounced his name to rhyme with Swede and was often called Swede as a nickname, had been in ill health …”

“In 1910 he became a sports writer for the Rock Island Argus and seven years later he took his first job as a cartoonist in The Chicago American sports department. The next year Mr. Ed began a seven-year tenure with the World color syndicate of St. Louis, drawing the well-known strip Luke McGluke, the Bush League Bearcat, and later Big Ben. By 1918 his talents came to the attention of the late Joseph Medill Patterson, co-publisher of The Chicago Tribune, who hired him.”

Nowhere, in the Times or other sources, is the comic strip called Bull Runn mentioned although it must have circulated to dozens of papers. The Graphic Arts Collection holds 100 lead and zinc printing plates for the strip, given by Charles Rose, Class of 1950, P77, P80. The plates originated with Abraham Meyers, whose American Melody Company or Meyers List syndicated cartoons and features to American newspapers from 1898 to 1977.

In 1926, Popular Mechanics ran a story detailing the process in which comic strips, such as Bull Runn, were printed in American newspapers.

“The story of the distribution, or syndicating of the features which appear simultaneously in papers throughout the country is a story of big business organization. . . . From the artist, the strip or page goes to the engraving department, is photographed on a copper plate, engraved, and prepared for the mechanical department. The next step is to transfer the engraving to a paper mold in which type metal is poured to produce the printing plate.”

A machine carrying rolls of blotting paper and other rolls of a special tissue paper automatically cuts off sheets somewhat larger than a newspaper page, pastes them together . . . sends the completed ‘mat’ or matrix through rollers which press out the excess paste and bind the parts firmly together and finally delivers the completed sheet to the drier.”

“. . . the dampened matrix is placed over the engraved plate, rolled in until it fills every indentation then covered with moistened blankets and placed in a steam heated press to dry the impression in place. . . . The cartoonist delivers a full week’s supply of strips at one time, and all are reproduced on one matrix, which is then clipped apart for convenience in mailing.

“At the newspaper plant the process is reversed. The mat is placed in a casting box, surrounded by containing walls just type-high and molten type metal poured in. The casting boxes are water-cooled and the hot metal chills so quickly that the tissue surface of the mat is hardly browned. The casting after being sawed to the proper size, is placed in the page form and made up along with the newspaper type.”–“How Cartoons are Syndicated,” Popular Mechanics, 45, no. 3 (March 1926): 451-55.

Early American Bookplates

Bookplate of Ethan Allen Hitchcock (1798-1870), U.S. Army, “Non nisi parvulis [Not unless a child], 19th century. Etching and engraving, Graphic Arts Collection Early American Bookplates


A reference question led to our small but significant collection of early American bookplates. Here are a few both for institutions and individuals.

The Gift of the Society for propagating the Gospell in Foreign parts 1704


Presented to the Warren St Chapel


Hasty Pudding Library, 1808


John Skinner, Hartford, and S. Marble, Orange Street, New Haven


Brothers in Unity


Columbia College Library, New-York. “In Lumine Tuo Videbimus Lumen” [In thy light we shall see light, Psalms 36:9]


Samuel Parker

Bushrod Washington (1762–1829), “Exitus acta probat” [The outcome justifies the deed].


New-York Society Library, 1789. “Emollit Mores” [Learning humanizes or Learning softens character]


Phoenix Society

Newburyport Athenaeum


Alexander Hamilton, Through. Not Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804)

 For confirmation, see: Journal of the Ex Libris Society, Vol. 8 (1899). “BOOK-PLATE OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Dear Sir,—…Alexander Hamilton had a book-plate— plain armorial, spade shield and crest, with motto — of which one is now in my collection. The Library of the Hospital Ship “Bay State” [ocr errors] No only other copy known to me is inserted in Hamilton’s own copy of “The Federalist,” which is in the possession of a gentleman of New York City, who values this plate at much fine gold, as I happen to know, having made a bid of fifty through the friendly bookseller who mentioned it to me in a casual way, and which he did thrice refuse. It would not interest anyone to know how I finally procured my copy, and I am very unwilling to exploit a mare’s-nest; but I will say that, for the present, this is one of my most cherished plates, ranking next to that of Hamilton’s great friend and admirer, George Washington, and so will it be until some fortunate collector manages to pick up a lot of them in some out-of-the-way corner. I am aware that the authenticity of the ownership of this most important plate rests, for the moment, altogether on what credit one is inclined to place in the aforesaid bookseller, but there was no object to be gained by him in composing a fairy tale of this kind, as the plate he spoke of was in hands, so far as he knew, entirely out of a collector’s reach, and his chance of procuring it simply nil, as has been proved since. After such serious collectors and good authorities as my friends F. E. Marshall and C. E. Clark have had a look at it, there will be time enough to describe this plate; in the meantime, silence is golden.— Yours truly, W. E. Baillie.

Avalon Ballroom

What do these pictures, above and below, have in common?

The postcards were found during the renovation of rare books and special collection’s technical services offices. Manufactured by Family Dog Productions, the corporation that managed The Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, the cards advertise Avalon rock concerts presented from 1966 to 1969.

Our cards announce concerts by the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Steve Miller Band, Moby Grape, the Butterfield Blues Band, and Big Brother and the Holding Company, with designs by Rick Griffin, Stanley Mouse, Alton Kelley and Victor Moscoso.

Like our offices, the Avalon’s building was renovated many times and since 1969, has housed a Regency movie theater, American Pacific Linens, (internet startup), and currently, the ad agency Argonaut.

Thanks to Maria Grandinette, Preservation Librarian, who found these cards and other ephemera.

John L. Sullivan, Pugalist and Model

Robert Tait McKenzie (1867-1938), Life mask of John L. Sullivan (1858-1918), pugilist, 1914 (cast 1913). Gift of Charles D. Hart, Princeton Class of 1892, presented March 27, 1919.

A trained physician and physical therapist, R. Tait McKenzie was appointed the first professor of physical education at the University of Pennsylvania in 1904. He was also a sculptor, specializing in portraits of male athletes. At the 1912 Olympics, his medallion, “Joy of Effort” was installed in the stadium at Stockholm.

His colleague Charles D. Hart was a physician at the Pennsylvania Hospital and president of the Philadelphia Council of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1914, Hart commissioned McKenzie to create a statuette of the “Ideal Boy Scout.” []

The same year, McKenzie helped Hart create his own copy of a life mask of John L. Sullivan from the original mould McKenzie made in 1913. The mustache, eyebrows, and ears were sculpted and added to the original cast. Five years later, Hart donated the mask to his alma mater.

“For many years there lived unmolested in Philadelphia a distinguished physician who often turned men to stone. Now and then, for variety, he would turn a man to bronze. The police never thought of interfering and the populace, or such section of it as took notice of his work, applauded the hard finish of his subjects. He was the late and truly lamented Dr. R. Tait McKenzie, Canadian-born, honored alumnus of the Medical School of McGill University, licensed practitioner in the United States, Head of the Department of Physical Education of the University of Pennsylvania, and a famous sculptor on the side. It was as a sculptor, of course, that he turned his visitors, by appointment, into stone or bronze. Those who came to see him on medical matters were treated with a softer touch.

… One day in his studio he was showing some death masks he had made. He held up one and said: “Give a guess, from the face, as to what profession this man followed.” Since it looked somewhat like William Howard Taft, the guess was that he might have been a lawyer or public official. “No,” said Dr. McKenzie with a smile, “He was formerly heavyweight champion of the world—John L. Sullivan.” John Kieran, “A Philadelphia Physician Who Turned Men to Stone,” JOHPER: Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Vol. 15 (1944).






Levi Strauss 1915 Advertising






levi6Levi Strauss & Company [lithographic advertising brochure die-cut and folded into the shape of a pair of blue jeans]. San Francisco: Levi-Strauss & Co., [1915]. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2016- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a very rare trade catalogue from the Levi Strauss company. The outside is color printed in the color of blue denim with red stitching and brass rivets. The inside is a multiple-sided color lithograph depicting men, boys, and children (no ladies) wearing jeans and other denim clothing, at various activities.

The center panel features the “Complete factory in operation in Palace of Manufactures – Panama Pacific International Expo,” which helps date the piece to ca. 1915. The middle inside section shows the famous Levi’s trademark logo and states: “Levi Strauss & Co., San Francisco, Cal., Manufacturer of Two Horse Brand Overalls, Koveralls, and Koverall nighties. 75 cents the suit. Everywhere a new suit free if they rip.”

Levi Strauss introduced blue jeans in 1873. In 1915 the firm received the highest award for waist overalls at the Panama Pacific International Expo. The complete story of their company is posted here: