Yellow Barn Press

The Graphic Arts Collection has substantial holdings of twentieth-century fine press editions but we recently filled in some gaps in our collection of Yellow Barn Press (YBP) books with wood engravings by John DePol (1913-2004). These represent a collaboration between DePol and YBP printer Neil Shaver that lasted from 1983 until the DePol’s death in 2004.

Here’s a biographical note from the records of the YBP, held at the University of Iowa Libraries. “In 1966, Shaver and his wife Fran moved to rural Iowa, outside of Council Bluffs. On the property was a barn, which Shaver and Fran cleaned up and turned into his printing studio. Fran is credited with coming with the name Yellow Barn Press. In 1980, Shaver sold his grocery business and retired, turning his printing avocation into his vocation. He printed about two books a year. The first books were on the Washington press, but after his sixth book, he began printing his books on a Vandercook, which is easier for one person to operate.

In 1983, he took a course from John Anderson at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey, and he and Anderson communicated from that point on until Anderson died in 1997. One of Shaver’s books about printing is about Anderson’s Pickering Press. . . Due to failing eyesight, Shaver closed the press in 2005, having brought out over thirty books.”

Photograph posted with the records of the Yellow Barn Press at the University of Iowa Library.

Here are the titles we’ve been able to acquire and a few images:
1. American Iron Hand Presses, #40/180, signed by Steve Saxe.
2. Ben Franklin on Lead Hazards, inscribed & dated by John.
3. Does Literature Exist, #9/175. John’s copy with his bookplate, inscription from Neil Shaver at Yellow Barn Press, signed twice by John. A second bookplate is also on the inside front cover with a different DePol engraving. With prospectus, ordering postcard, & typed note initialed by John.
4. Dress, by Eric Gill. #7/200, signed by John.
5. Goudy Memoir, YBP bookplate & Emerson G. Wulling’s bookplate too, with EGW’s traditional penciled notes on ffep, prospectus laid in.
6. Not Barn Again, inscribed & dated by John.
7. John Anderson & The Pickering Press, #102/150, inscribed & dated by John.
8. Liberty Bell on the K-G Press, #205/215, inscribed & dated by John.
9. Travels with Pat, with handwritten presentation note on his 1994 birthday laid in.

See also John J. Walsdorf, The Yellow Barn Press: a history and bibliography (Council Bluffs, Ia.: Yellow Barn Press, 2001). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) Oversize 2004-0798Q

ARLIS/NA Statement on Proposals to Eliminate Funding for the NEA, NEH, and IMLS

On Tuesday, February 6, 2017, the Art Libraries Society of North America released this statement:

The Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) believes that lives are enriched by engagement with the visual arts, design, and cultural heritage. As the leading art information organization, the Society strongly opposes the proposed elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

In January, articles from The Hill reported that then U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his team were considering the elimination of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). During the early part of 2017, the President and his staff will draft a budget that is reportedly based largely on the report A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America prepared by the Republican Study Committee and that recommends the following cuts to the federal budget:

“The federal government should not be in the business of funding the arts. Support for the arts can easily and more properly be found from non-governmental sources. Eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts would save taxpayers $148 million per year and eliminating the National Endowment for the Humanities would save an additional $148 million per year.” (Pg. 96)
“The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provides grants to local museums and libraries, a task that can be better handled by the private sector and local governments. Eliminating the IMLS would save $230 million per year.” (Pg. 97)

Each year, the arts create $135 billion in economic activity, employing over 4 million Americans, and totaling $86 billion in household income. Additionally, funding for arts organizations comprises a tiny fraction of the overall Federal budget (approximately .02 percent). Libraries and museums have a significant impact on the economic, social and cultural environment of communities by promoting life-long learning, creative expression, and access to a wealth of information, programs and services. Numerous institutions where ARLIS/NA members work have been or are currently funded by at least one, if not all three of these federal agencies. Without this funding, the nation’s libraries, museums, and arts and humanities centers cannot provide the critical support needed for research and education.

These proposed budget cuts would cause serious obstructions to creative expression, cultural enrichment, life-long learning, and a threat to the growth of the creative economy. For these reasons, ARLIS/NA opposes the proposed defunding and eradication of the NEA, NEH, and IMLS.

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:

When was cheap at its height?

Just a quick note:

In response to a recent call for papers concerning quick, cheap printing in the United States, I did a Google Ngram search on the word cheap (and other synonyms). It was necessary to limit this to pre-1900 because the concept explodes in the early 20th century. Here’s the result.

It is curious that a bargain overtakes cheap in the 1790s and the 1820s. It looks like 1761 was not a good year for cheap things but that we were equally cheap in 1770 and 1890.

 Here is the cfp, if you haven’t already received it:

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

An unrecorded subversive almanac for 1794


Les Romances du temps présent. Almanach nouveau (Paris: chez les Marchands de Nouveautés, [between August and mid-October 1793]). 100 mm. Collation: [1]32 [2]8 (nested quires). 33, [16], 34-64 pp. Calendar for 1794. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process


The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired an unrecorded subversive almanac, innocuous in appearance but containing openly anti-Revolutionary poems, songs, and invocations.

The “Romances of the present day” [above] opens with several heart-rending poems on the plight of Marie-Antoinette, who, on August 1, 1793, had been transferred at dead of night from her prison in the Temple to a solitary cell in the Conciergerie. She would be guillotined 77 days later on October 16.

Other poems set to popular tunes include an invocation of the Dauphin (age 10, separated from his mother on July 3); a “romance” of the ghost of Louis XVI (executed on 21 January 1793) addressing the French people; a song relating the last words of the dying King, “found in his papers”; and a song “to the Sans-Culottes”: Rhabilles-toi peuple Français. Ne donnes plus dans les excès De nos faux Patriotes! [Get dressed French people. Do not give in excess of our false patriots!]

There is a racy pair of couplets, “to the Emigrés, by the French Ladies,” and vice-versa, each verse ending with the equivocal line “ce qu’on fit en nous [vous] faisant” (e.g., “Et jurons qu’un brave Emigré / Seul aura droit de nous faire / Ce qu’on fit en nous faisant),” along with a series of “Ariettes, written from the siege of Maastricht” (winter of 1793).

Beside these subversive texts are normal apolitical songs and a calendar for 1794.

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.

Hieronymus Schürstab, Mayor of Nuremberg

Hanns Lautensack (ca. 1520-1564/66), Portrait of Hieronymus Schürstab, 1554. Etching. II/II. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2017- in process.

The German printmaker, draftsman, and medalist Hanns Lautensack used the printer’s mark H.S.L. (under the Latin text), which has led to confusion in his name. Some assume the mark included his middle name, often written as Hans Sebald Lautensack, but recent sources suggest that his name and mark ought to be read Ham Lauten-Sack. For now, the Getty’s Union List of Artist Names uses Hanns alone and so do we.

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired one of the last works Lautensack etched before leaving Nuremberg for Vienna, a lifetime portrait of Hieronymous (or Jerome) Schürstab (1512-1573). “Schürstab was a prominent member of the Nuremberg city council,” writes Jeffrey Chipps Smith. “From 1545 he served as the bürgermeister and from 1558 as the alter bürgermeister (elder or senior mayor).” —Nuremberg, a Renaissance City, 1500-1618 (Marquand Oversize N6886.N9 S64q).

For a Schurstab-Rheticus-Copernicus connection, see chapter 6, pages 86-87 of The First Copernican by Dennis Richard Danielson (Firestone QB36.R38 D36 2006).


The church in the distance is identified as the St. Leonhard church and infirmary, located southwest of Nuremberg. St. Leonhard was established by one of Schürstab’s early relatives and several years after the portrait was published, he was appointed one of its overseers.

However, when this portrait was etched, Schürstab was a guardian of St. Peter’s and it has been suggested that the building in this landscape actually represents St. Peter’s. Five years later, when Schürstab transferred to St. Leonhard, he hired an artist to add the inscription to the plate and a second edition of his portrait was printed. See F.W.H. Hollstein, German Engravings, Etchings, and Woodcuts. XXI, no.68.


Latin text:
Hieronymus Schürstab
Octo lustra, duos annos mea tempora vidi
Cum talis nostro vultus in ore fuit,
Et patriae clades, et tristia bella potentum
Lugebam: Sed tu da meliora Deus,
Sic patriam nostramque Domum Regesque guberna,
Vt pia tranquillae tempora pacis agant,
Vt late magnum currant tua regna per orbem
Et crescant verbi semina vera tui.

Hieronymus Schuerstab
For forty-two years I saw my times,
While such an aspect of things was always before us.
I have mourned the calamity of the homeland, the bitter wars of the powerful.
But give us better things, o God!
So govern our land, our homeland and our kings,
That they might bring about such faithful times of tranquil peace,
That far and wide, throughout the great earth, Thy domains should run,
And the true seeds of Thy word should thrive.
(translation by Mark Farrell)

How Many Nippers Does It Take To Bind A Book?

Nineteenth-century nipping press from Leonard Bailey and Company, Hartford Connecticut.

Black and red cast iron book press, labeled World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893, The Cotton State’s Exposition, Atlanta 1895.

On a recent visit to our preservation lab, Mick LeTourneaux, Rare Books Conservator, pointed out the wide variety of nipping, standing, and other book presses they used. Although some are beautiful 19th-century originals, many others were purchased in the last twenty years specifically for our shop.

According to the Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology of Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books, the nipping press is “a small press consisting essentially of a fixed, horizontal iron base plate, and an upper, movable platen that is raised and lowered by means of a relatively long, vertical screw. The nipping press is used to apply quick and uniform pressure in a variety of bookbinding operations.”

“While the nipping press does not have the available daylight or the pressing power of the standing press, it is relatively easy to open and close which makes it very useful for a quick pressing operations. The true nipping press does not release its pressure until released by the turning of the screw; however, substitute ‘nipping presses,’ which are really ‘letter-presses’ or ‘copying presses,’ once used in business offices for ‘copying’ letters, are limited in their ability to apply pressure because they have a tendency to ease the pressure when the handle is released.”

Here are a few more, along with some of the standing presses in Princeton’s lab.

Standing wood press manufactured by Hampson Bettridge & Company Ltd., 2 & 4 Fann Street, London EC1 Great Britain


Several of our presses come from the W. O. Hickok Manufacturing Company, located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It is one of the oldest remaining industrial plants in South Central Pennsylvania.

“In 1844, William Orville Hickok established the Eagle Works and became a manufacturer of bookbinders’ specialties. His brilliant inventions would soon revolutionize the paper ruling industry. Sometime between 1844 and 1850, Hickok’s ideas began to click. He invented an “Improved Ruling Machine” and his Eagle Works plant grew quickly. By 1853, the Ruling Machines were in constant use in every state of the Union.”

Watercolor for “Liberty Suspended!”

George Cruikshank (1792-1878), Liberty Suspended! with the Bulwark of the Constitution!, March 1817. Published London: J Sidebortham. Etching with hand coloring. Graphic Arts Collection Cruikshank GC 022. Gift of Richard W. Meirs, Class of 1888.

In posting George Cruikshank’s print “Liberty Suspended!” yesterday, a watercolor turned up also that has been attributed to Cruikshank as a preliminary sketch or source for this print. Both the text and the image are significantly different so there may have been several drawings for the various sections of the print.

Attributed to George Cruikshank (1792-1878),  Liberty Suspended!, 1817. Watercolor and graphite. Graphic Arts Collection GC022.