Category Archives: Ephemera

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:


Do You Have General Mercer’s Sword?


On May 31, 1929, The Princeton Alumni Weekly announced that Charles L. Burke, ’01, had presented General Hugh Mercer’s sword to the University. Today, we were asked if we still have it.

Rare Books and Special Collections does have a collection of rifles, swords, spears, and other armaments but Mercer’s sword is not specifically labeled.

Several of the collection’s swords have leather belts or other straps still attached. Several have curved blades. Several could be considered heavy and/or massive weapons. We are consulting with experts but in the meantime, do you recognize Mercer’s sword?

Hugh Mercer (1726-1777) was a soldier, a physician, and a close friend to George Washington. Mercer died as a result of his wounds received at the Battle of Princeton and became a fallen hero and rallying symbol of the American Revolution.

Here might be an answer to the question:


sword12aA detail of this sword’s engraved blade is below.



sword9Detail of tag below.









the_death_of_general_mercer_at_the_battle_of_princeton_january_3_1777The Death of Mercer, ca. 1789-ca. 1831, oil painting, Yale University. 1832.6.1

The Vote Album


suffragette-albumThe Vote Album ([London?]: Women’s Freedom League, no date [ca. 1910]). Album with 20 green paper leaves cut to house postcards. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2016- in process

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a rare copy of a postcard album sold by the Women’s Freedom League at the height of the “Votes for Women” campaign. The faded white and gold central panel contains the title The Vote Album with a design attributed to Eva Claire showing the Suffragists at the door of the State, which is barred and bolted against them. Seeking entrance are the Women of the Nation: graduates in academic dress standing side by side with working women.


This particular album once belonged to Mrs. Louisa Thomson-Price (nee Sowdon, 1864-1926). She was the daughter of a Tory military family but from an early age rebelled against their way of thinking and became a secularist and a Radical. She was impressed by Charles Bradlaugh of the National Secular Society (NSS) and in 1888, married John Sansom, who was a member of the NSS. Thomson-Price worked as a journalist from around 1886, as a political writer (then a very unusual area for women), and drew cartoons for a radical journal, Political World. She was also a member of the Council of the Society of Women Journalists. After the death of her first husband in 1907 she married George Thomson Price.

Thanks to Ed Smith and Elizabeth Crawford for their research on the album, repeated here.





Price was an early member of the Women’s Freedom League (WFL), became a consultant editor of its paper, The Vote, and then, a director of its firm: Minerva Publishing. Price took part in the WFL picket of the House of Commons and was very much in favor of this type of militancy. In her will she left £250 to the WFL and £1000 to endow a “Louisa Thomson Price bed” at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

When she died Thomson-Price was living at 17 Belsize Park Gardens, Hampstead, and her will was witnessed by Edith Alexander, a professional nurse who ran a nursing home at that address. Also living there were Miss Edith Alexandra Hartley and Miss Martha Poles Hartley, the latter being the elder sister of the father of the novelist, L.P. Hartley. It is assumed that after Mrs. Thomson Price’s death The Vote Album remained in her home and was taken over by Miss Alexander as a place to put her own postcards, none of which have any suffrage relevance.

See also: Marion Holmes (died 1943), The A.B.C. of votes for women ([London]: Women’s Freedom League, [1912?])
Teresa Billington-Greig (1877-1964), Suffragist tactics (London: Women’s Freedom League, [191-]).

Am I Not a Man and a Brother

For the 1,000th post on this weblog, we are pleased to share the acquisition of a medal bearing the abolitionist design of a kneeling slave in chains. On one side is the text: “Am I not a man and a brother,” and on the other side, “Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you. Do ye even so to them.”

Manufactured around 1790, probably in London, the medals were issued to promote the message of the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade. They replicate the Jasperware (unglazed porcelain) medallion produced shortly after the Society was formed in 1787 by Josiah Wedgwood’s Staffordshire pottery firm. The image, attributed to sculptor Henry Webber and prepared for production by modeler William Hackwood, quickly became the iconic symbol of the Society and appeared in books, prints, broadsides, plates, tapestries, and more.

Princeton University Art Museum holds one of the Wedgwood medallions.09b29a690eb5d24ae5828f7934c240ddSlave, 1787. Porcelain. Manufactory: Josiah Wedgwood and Sons, English, established 1759. Trumbull Prime Collection, y1937-37

The library has many examples of this iconic symbol, including an embroidered sampler:

See also: Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade, At a meeting held for the purpose of taking the slave trade into consideration: resolved, that it is the opinion of this meeting, that the slave trade is both impolitic and unjust … ([London: s.n., 1787]). EX Lapidus 4.17 and 4.17a



A bill for your dinner in the 1780s

english-bills6Princeton’s Graphic Arts Collection holds a lovely collection of colorful printed menus from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (, along with a substantial collection of engraved change packets from nineteenth-century British shops ( Adding to this wealth, we recently acquired a group of 20 printed and handwritten bills from inns dating 1780 to 1830.

The businesses include: Foster, Loughborough [c.1780]; Charles McDonald, Blue-Bell, Belford [1787]; Charles McDonald, Belford [1789]; Mark Tool, Chelsea [c.1790]; Charles McDonald, Belford [1794]; George Nelson, Queen’s Head, Morpeth [1801]; Robert Coupland at the York Tavern & New Inn [1803]; David Winn, George Inn, York [1806]; Willm. Carver, The New Inn Easingwold [1809]; Richard Brown, King’s Arms, Temple-Sowerby, [printed by] John Ware, printer, Whitehaven [1813]; John Barnes, Lion and Lamb Inn, Carlile [printed by] Jollie, printer, Carlisle [c.1815]; Geo.r. Tyson, George & Dragon Inn, Penrith. [1815]; J. Broadbent, White Bear Inn, Barnsely. [c.1818]; George and Dragon, Sykes, Wakefield [c.1820]; H.C. Sharpin, Ripon [1822]; S. Twaite’s, Swan Inn Ferry-Bridge [1824]; Salkeld’s, Green Dragon, Workington. [1824]; Harrison, King’s Head Inn Barnard Castle. [1824]; T. Ferguson, George Inn, Catterick-Bridge [c.1825]; Matthew Bell, Fish Inn, Penrith. [1830].



Not only are the letterhead engravings of interest as printed ephemera but these records of food, drink, and other services offered to travelers at the end of the Georgian era are of value to researchers in many disciplines.

It is curious that the bills are often pre-printed with a list of drinks and services. The waiter simply checked off what each patron ordered and added up the total. Note the food for the horses and servants is included on each bill along with tobacco and postage.

A variety of long-forgotten drinks such as “negus” (concocted from a mixture of port, hot water and spices) and bumbo (a mixture of rum, water, sugar and nutmeg) are listed on these bills. The food is rarely described more than simply “eating.”



Marx Memorial Library

dscn7715-2In 1934 Viscount Hastings, who studied under Diego Rivera, executed a large fresco for the Marx Memorial Library’s first-floor reading room. A number of influential figures within the history of British labor are depicted in this painting, entitled The Worker of the Future Clearing Away the Chaos of Capitalism.

Here are a few more of the many graphic arts that decorate the walls of the library, along with a little of their history.


A Welsh Charity school was built on the site of Marx House in 1738. It educated boys and later a few girls, the children of Welsh artisans living in poverty in Clerkenwell. Gradually the intake became too large and the school moved to new premises in 1772. After this the building was divided into separate workshops one of which became the home to the London Patriotic Society from 1872 until 1892.


The Twentieth Century Press occupied what had by then been labelled as 37a and 38, and expanded into 37 by 1909 – thereby returning the site to single occupancy for the first time since its days as a charity school. The Twentieth Century Press was founded by the Social Democratic Federation as printer for its journal Justice and was the first socialist Press in Clerkenwell. An early benefactor was William Morris, who guaranteed the rent of the Patriotic Club to the Twentieth Century Press. During its time in Clerkenwell Green, the Twentieth Century Press produced several of the earliest English editions of the works of Marx and Engels. The Twentieth Century Press remained at the building until 1922.



Lenin was exiled in London and worked in the building from April 1902 to May 1903. During this period he shared the office of Harry Quelch, the director of the Twentieth Century Press, from there he edited and printed the journal ISKRA (The Spark), which was smuggled into Russia. The office is still preserved and open to visitors.



In 1933, the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Karl Marx, a delegate meeting comprising trade unionists, veteran socialists belonging to the Labour Party and Communist Party, and representatives of the Labour Research Department and Martin Lawrence Publishers Ltd., considered setting up a Permanent memorial to him. That year also saw the Nazis in Germany burning books. In these circumstances the meeting resolved that the most appropriate memorial would be a Library. Thus the Marx Memorial Library and Workers School (as it was then known) was established at 37a Clerkenwell Green that year. Study classes, held in the evenings, became the distinguishing feature of the Workers’ School, which was divided into faculties of science, history and political economy.

dscn7698-2Note that William Morris was one of the comrades present at this 1890 meeting.

See also How I Became a Socialist. A series of biographical sketches (London: Twentieth Century Press, [no date]). I. H.M. Hyndman. II. E. Belfort Bax. III. William Morris. IV. Walter Crane. V. J. Hunter Watts. VI. John E. Williams. VII. Andreas Scheu. VIII. H.W. Lee. IX. James Macdonald. X. R. Blatchford. XI H. Quelch. XII. Tom Mann. Firestone RECAP HX241.H83