Need a Project, no. 11? Paper theaters identified

With enormous thanks to Alain Lecucq, actor, director, and paper theater historian writing from France, our two paper theaters have been identified: the prosceniums made in Vienna, Austria, at the beginning of the 20th century.

Theatre one in: Anna Feja Seitler and Heino Seitler, Papiertheater: die Sammlung Anna Feja Seitler und Heino Seitler, edited by Norbert Donhofer (Wien : F. Deuticke, 1992). Access: http://catalogue.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cb356821235

Theatre two in: Katharina Siefert and Ingrid Wambsganz, Papiertheater: Die Bühne im Salon: Einblicke in den Sammlungsbestand des Germanischen Nationalmuseums: Begleitpublikation zur Ausstellung “Theaterdonner” im Germanischen Nationalmuseum, 19.12.2002-23.3.2003 (Nürnberg: Verl. des Germanischen Nationalmuseums, 2002). Access: http://swbplus.bsz-bw.de/bsz102833435inh.htm

See also:
Alain Lecucq, Le Théâtre de papier: des origines à nos jours (Epinal: Centre départemental de documentation pédagogique des Vosges, 1984).

UNIMA 2000: l’art mondial de la marionnette = The Worldwide Art of Puppetry, edited by Marek Waszkiel; Penny Francis; and Alain Lecucq ([Prague]: Union internationale de la marionnette, 2000).

http://www.papiertheatre.com/

Petite histoire du Théâtre de papier… Cette technique de manipulation de figurines plates dans une scénographie miniature naît, vrais emblablement, au début du XIX e siècle en Angleterre. C’est en 1811, qu’I.K.Green publie, à Londres, la première façade de théâtre à monter. Ces théâtres vont se composer de plusieurs éléments indispensables pour jouer un spectacle : une façade, souvent inspirée de théâtres existants, des décors et des coulisses, des personnages dans des positions variées et un texte, résumé souvent malhabile de celui d’origine. Ces feuilles seront mises en couleurs par l’imprimeur avec des techniques diérentes selon les pays – peinture à la main, au pochoir, lithographie…ou par l’acheteur lui-même. A la maison, l’heureux possesseur de ces feuilles les collera sur du carton puis les découpera, les assemblera, et présentera son spectacle à sa famille ou à ses amis.La taille de ces théâtres dépassera rarement les cinquante ou soixante centimètres. Outre l’Angleterre, on trouve des théâtres de papier en Autriche, en Allemagne, au Danemark, en Espagne, en Italie, en Moravie et en France

A little history of the Paper Theater … This technique of handling flat figurines in a miniature scenography was born, most probably, at the beginning of the 19th century in England. It was in 1811 that I. K. Green published the first theater facade to be erected in London. These theaters will consist of several elements essential to play a show: a facade, often inspired by existing theaters, sets and backstage, characters in various positions and a text, often clumsy summary of the original one. These sheets will be colored by the printer with different techniques depending on the country–hand painting, stenciling, lithography–or by the buyer himself. At home, the happy owner of these sheets will stick them on cardboard and then cut them, assemble them, and present his show to his family or friends. The size of these theaters will rarely exceed fifty or sixty centimeters. Besides England, there are paper theaters in Austria, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Moravia and France

A Born Classic

Mark Argetsinger, A Grammar of Typography: Classical Book Design in the Digital Age (Boston: David R. Godine, 2020). 528 pages; 8.5 x 12 inches; illustrated with over 425 images, many in full color.

The arrival of Mark Argetsinger’s new book, A Grammar of Typography, sent me running to a thesaurus in search of a word larger than comprehensive. Should we describe it as thorough? Inclusive? Far-reaching, in-depth, sweeping, or simply grand?

The publisher’s material begins: “A Grammar of Typography is a comprehensive guide to traditional book design that is both practical and historical. Interspersed with discussions of digital typesetting and page layout are broad historical views of the tradition of the book along with specific reference to the printer’s grammar or manual, the industry’s own codification of its usage, from Joseph Moxon in the seventeenth century through Theodore Low De Vinne in the nineteenth. In addition, there are chapters on house style, proof-reading, copy-editing, paper, binding, and appendices on typographical ornaments and Greek type. The book ends with an annotated bibliography and an index.”

How can you not love a book with an introduction titled “The Hidden Soul of Harmony: The Classical Tradition. A Practice in Search of a Theory”? Although Argetsinger claims “this is primarily a practical manual, not a scholarly treatise,” one would be hard-pressed to find a more philosophical look at “marks of quotation,” “font editing,” or “horizontal space.”

There is also biography and chronology. “In addition, Aldus was the first to cast in type the humanist’s running or cursive hand, known as the Italic. The busy work of the humanist, who daily, it seemed, uncovered new works of the Ancients, lying long neglected in the monastic or royal libraries of Europe, had required an efficient script to match the urgent copying of new texts.”

In his preface, Argetsinger writes, “This book intends to provide a historical context to the enterprise of book-making. The term grammar appears in its title both in reference to the historical phenomenon of ‘grammars’ of printing, regarding which much will be said along the way, as well as in reference to a certain graphical literacy that is requisite for the intelligent use of design and production tools in the digital age. Historical context is important both from the point of view of tracking evolving trends in the composition and display of printed matter, as well as from the point of view of preserving the traditions of its best practices.”

Open it anywhere and start reading.

 

 

“After the first necessities of life, nothing is more precious to us than books. The Art of Typography, which produces them, provides essential services to society and secures incalculable benefits. …Thus one could rightly call it par excellence the art of all arts and the science of all sciences.” –Pierre-Simon Fournier, le jeune, Manuel Typographique, Book 1 (1764).

 

 

A classical book designer, Argetsinger also embraces 21st-century technology, writing:
“There is something wonderful about working out the proportion of the page on screen, precisely mapping out its structure with the (by turns visible or invisible) grid and and page line; setting up one’s font with a complement of sorts so vast, even Christopher Plantin would feel a twinge of envy; readily changing size, font, color, position; and arraying, say, a two-volume, 800-page book heavy with illustrations and then placing its entire content on a digital thumb-drive….”

[Forgive my poor photography, the book itself is perfect.]

Colophon: “A Grammar of Typography set in DTL’s Fleischmann and printed on 115 Gem Munken print cream. All printing and binding by PBtisk Printing Company in the Czech Republic. This first edition consists of 1,875 hardcover trade copies as well as a deluxe slipcased edition of 125 copies signed and numbered by the author and only available directly from the publisher. Designed and composed by Mark Argetsinger, Holyoke, Massachusetts.”

 

A PostScript: My favorite Argetsinger design, proof he can do it all.

2:00 New Theories on the Oldest American Woodcut

Puzzle: https://jigex.com/ZX6K
If you are not able to attend today’s 2:00 talk “New Theories on the Oldest American Woodcut: The Portrait of Richard Mather by John Foster, ca. 1670,” which is almost fully registered, (https://libcal.princeton.edu/event/6715887) at least you can enjoy the Mather portrait puzzle designed here:https://jigex.com/ZX6K

Thanks to the template provided by Jigsaw Puzzle Explorer.

Below is a link to the recording of the presentation:
https://mediacentral.princeton.edu/media/New+Theories+on+the+Oldest+American+WoodcutA+The+Portrait+of+Richard+Mather+by+John+Foster%2C+ca.+1670/1_s9zed1co

Thank you for your help!
Here is the timeline covered in the presentation:
1630 Dorchester founded, just a few months before the founding of the city of Boston
1635 Reverend Richard Mather arrived at Boston and settled in Dorchester
1638/39 The first European printing press arrived in Colonial America
1648 John Foster born in Dorchester and baptized by Mather
1667 Foster graduated from Harvard College and returned to Dorchester as a schoolteacher
1669 Richard Mather died
1670 Increase Mather wrote The Life and Death of that Reverend Man of God, Mr. Richard Mather
1670? Foster carved a portrait of Mather and printed the two composite blocks on the Cambridge press of Marmaduke Johnson and/or Samuel Green
1674 Johnson moved his press to Boston but died the same year. With Increase Mather’s help, Foster took over the press and became the first printer in Boston
1681 Foster died of consumption age 33 and equipment went to Bartholomew Green (and blocks?)
1732 Green died and equipment went to John Draper (and blocks?)

 
These are the sizes of the collotype reproductions printed with Gillette Griffin’s article 1959. They are not from the original impressions:
Harvard University 150 x 122 mm
University of Virginia 151 x 125 mm
American Antiquarian Society 153 x 122 mm
Princeton University 154 x 128 mm
Mass. Hist. Society 153 x 128 mm

Here is a selected bibliography so you can read more about Foster’s woodcut:

Increase Mather (1639-1723), The Life And Death Of That Reverend Man Of God, Mr. Richard Mather, Teacher Of The Church In Dorchester In New-England: [seven lines of quotations] (Cambridge [Mass.]: Printed by S.G. and M.J. [i.e., Samuel Green and Marmaduke Johnson], 1670). William H. Scheide Library 101.19. Dedication signed: Increase Mather. Boston N.E. Septemb. 6. 1670. WHS copy has engraved portrait of Increase Mather pasted on verso of t.p., with inscription: Crescentius Matherus. Aetatis Suae 49. 1688. Vanderspirit pinxit. R. White Sculp. Londini. WHS copy is Thomas M. Waller and Edith A. Pollard’s copy, acquired 6/2/38 from Goodspeed; inv. 483.

Thomas Tilestone, A Funeral Elegy, Dedicated To The Memory Of His Worthy Friend, [Microform]: The Learned & Religious Mr. John Foster; Who Deceased In Dorchester, The 9th. Of September. 1681 ([Cambridge, Mass.: Printed by Samuel Green, 1681]).

Richard Mather (1596-1660), Journal of Richard Mather, 1635: His Life And Death, 1670 (Boston [Mass.]: D. Clapp, 1850). Reproduction of the original from the American Antiquarian Society.

Samuel G. Drake (1798-1875), A Memoir Of The Rev. Cotton Mather, D. D., With A Genealogy Of The Family Of Mather (Boston: C. C. P. Moody, printer, 1851).

Samuel A. Green (1830-1918), John Foster: the Earliest American Engraver and the First Boston Printer (Boston: Published by the Massachusetts Historical Society at the Charge of the Waterston fund, No. 2., 1909). Graphic Arts Collection Z232.F7 G8. Graphic Arts copy “Elmer Adler, Princeton”–Written in pen on p. [2] of cover.

“An Early Printer: John Foster the First to Establish a Press in Boston,” The Hartford Courant, November 12, 1909: 5.

Frederick I. Weis, “Checklist of the Portraits in the American Antiquarian Society,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society; Worcester, Mass. Vol. 56, issue 1, (January 1, 1947): 55.

Sinclair Hamilton, “Portrait of a Puritan: John Foster’s Woodcut of Richard Mather,” The Princeton University Library Chronicle 18, no. 2 (Winter 1957): 43-48

Sinclair Hamilton, Early American Book Illustrators And Wood Engravers, 1670-1870: A Catalogue Of A Collection Of American Books Illustrated For The Most Part With Woodcuts And Wood Engravings (Princeton, N.J., Princeton University Press, 1958).

Gillett Griffin (1928-2016), “John Foster’s woodcut of Richard Mather,” PaGA, Printing & Graphic Arts v. 7, no. 1 (1959): 1-19.

Richard Holman, “Some Remarks on Mr. Richard Mather,” PaGA, Printing & Graphic Arts v. 7, no. 1 (1959): 57-63.

Increase Mather (1639-1723), Life and Death of Richard Mather (1670). A facsimile reprint with an introd. by Benjamin Franklin V, and William K. Bottorff (Athens, Ohio: 1966). Firestone Library BX7260.M368 M3 1670. Facsim. of the Boston Public Library copy, except the port.

Robert Middlekauff, The Mathers; Three Generations of Puritan Intellectuals, 1596-1728 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971). Firestone Library F67 .M4865 1971.

Melissa Johnson Kane, John Foster, the Ingenious Mathematician & Printer ([Charlottesville, Va.], 1973). Thesis: M.A.; University of Virginia; 1973.

B. R. Burg, Richard Mather of Dorchester ([Lexington, Ky.]: University Press of Kentucky, 1976). ReCAP BX7260.M368B87

James Lawton, “John Foster (December 1648-9 September 1681),” American Colonial Writers, 1606-1734, edited by Emory Elliott. Dictionary of Literary Biography 24 (1984): 123-25.

Herschel C. Logan, John Foster and America’s First Woodcut: 1670 (Fellerton, CA: Lyceum Press; Lorson’s Books & Prints, 1988).

Cotton Mather (1663-1728), Two Mather Biographies: Life and Death and Parentator, edited by William J. Scheick (Bethlehem, Pa.: Lehigh University Press, 1989). ReCAP, BX7259 .M32 1989

Georgia Brady Barnhill, “The Catalogue of American Engravings: A Manual for Users,” Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society; Worcester, Mass. Vol. 108, Issue 1 (January 1, 1998): 113.

Elisabeth Louise Roark, Artists of Colonial America (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003).

Arcola Pettway’s “Lazy Gals Variation”


Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber recently announced that our 2020 “pre-read” is This America: The Case for the Nation by historian Jill Lepore. https://princeton.overdrive.com/media/4618070 Each year Princeton’s incoming class collectively explores one text, this year focusing on the concept of the nation, American civil ideals, and historical truth-seeking.

Published by W.W. Norton & Company in 2019, the book’s cover features the image of a quilt in the shape of an American flag. The work was created in 1976 by Arcola Pettway (1934-1994), titled Lazy Gals Variation, as a Bicentennial quilt composed of brightly colored strips of corduroy fabric. “Lazy Gal” refers to the quilting pattern of irregular bars, one of a variety of traditional patterns used by Pettway and other quilters who are part of the Gee’s Bend collective. The quilt pictured above is owned by the High Museum, a purchase and gift of the Souls Grown Deep Foundation from the William S. Arnett Collection.

Pettway and the other quilters are the descendants of enslaved people from rural Gee’s Bend, Alabama. They first came to national attention with the Freedom Quilting Bee, a cooperative arising from the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s, and their quilts were sold in New York City at Bloomingdale’s and Sak’s, providing income for the women.

In the 1990s, art collector William Arnett and his family, rediscovered them and, together with curators, patrons and others with a large respect for African-American culture, a touring exhibition was organized by the Museum of Fine Art, Houston.

According to the Souls Grown Deep Foundation, “Arcola Young was raised by her mother, Deborah Young, and her grandfather, Reverend Paul S. Pettway. Her mother also raised Young’s cousin, Leola Pettway. Leola described their childhood as being full of play and adventure, like fishing, singing in church choirs, and inventing games. Young married Joseph Pettway, brother of Lucy T. Pettway, and together they had 12 children. They farmed together and Young was a part of a gospel singing group, the Golden Angels.”– For more information on the women of Gee’s Bend, see https://www.soulsgrowndeep.org/gees-bend-quiltmakers


In 2017, three etchings after the quilts of Loretta Pettway and Mary Lee Bendolph, members of the Gee’s Bend quilters, were acquired by the Graphic Arts Collection and installed in Firestone Library’s African American Studies Room (B floor) thanks to a joint initiative between the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton University Library, and the Department of African American Studies. https://graphicarts.princeton.edu/2017/04/10/gees-bend-prints-acquired/

 

Need a Project, no. 11? Paper theaters

 

Seven years ago a couple toy theaters were posted online, simply to let the pubic know the Graphic Arts Collection holds a small selection of paper and model theaters, along with sets, costumes, figures, and props. Several are particular stages, such as the Globe Theatre where William Shakespeare’s plays were performed. The rest are 19th century toy theaters produced by such manufacturers as Benjamin Pollock and Skelt & Webb.

Today we are trying to do better, in terms of scholarly research. Above are two examples, one from Princeton and one from a private collection. We have been trying to determine if they are from the same manufacturer, the same period, and/or the same location. Unfortunately, there are only a few reference sources on toy theaters available digitally at this time and we have not been able to identify either theater. Can you?

 

There seems to be agreement that they are both either German or Austrian. Without examining the actual object it is difficult to know if either are made in molded card rather than carved wood, which was cheaper to produce. We also can’t check the back or bottom as we would normally.

Perhaps members of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild are checking online and recognize our two objects? https://www.britishpuppetguild.org.uk/  If you have information or a guess, please let us know at jmellby@princeton.edu

 

 


There is an interesting story online about the paper theater Goethe (1749-1832) gave his son August:

The toys of Goethe’s son August exemplify these two different species. On the one hand, we are told that August played with simple chestnuts which he threaded and hung from his neck, pretending that they were garlands of precious jewels and he a powerful Oriental monarch. On the other, August enjoyed setting up an elaborate toy theater with conventional cardboard figures representing Harlequin, Columbine, Doctor Faustus, and other characters. To these (and here is the act of subversion) August would add a live cat during his performances, “for the sake of realism.” –Artes de México No. 114, Juguete Tradicional II: Vida En Miniatura (Septiembre 2014), pp. 65-80 published by: Margarita de Orellana https://www.jstor.org/stable/24319076

If you are looking for an activity, the Victoria and Albert Museum has instructions in DIY paper theaters here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/m/make-your-own-toy-theatre/

Glad Syttende Mai

To honor the Norwegian Constitution Day, May 17th, or Syttende mai, here is a post for my favorite Norwegian author Kjersti A. Skomsvold. Seen above is her first and perhaps, still most compelling novel The Faster I Walk, The Smaller I Am (Firestone Library PT8952.29.K65 J613 2011).

Happily last summer “Two Month Review” chose to feature Skomsvold’s Monsterhuman, translated from the Norwegian by Becky L. Crook, for their discussion and deep read. Note in this episode the discussion on the book does not begin until about 23.40.

“Marius Hjeldnes from Cappelen Damm joins Chad and Brian to provide a bit of background on Skomsvold, on trends in Norwegian literature, on that whole “dice” thing, and much more. They cover the first three sections of the book, laying out the main themes and ideas that set-up this novel about a young woman suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, trying to rebuild her sense of self by becoming a writer. An incredibly interesting, episodic novel that you should be able to dive into, even if you don’t read every page.”

Other podcasts of the Two Month Review can be found online. “Each “season” they highlight a new work of world literature, reading it slowly over the course of eight to nine episodes. Featuring a rotating set of literary guests—from authors to booksellers, critics, and translators—each episode recaps a short section of the book and uses that as a springboard for a fun (and often irreverent) discussion about literature in a general sense, pop culture, reading approaches, and much more.”


The English language edition of Jo fortere jeg går, jo mindre er jeg (The Faster I Walk, the Smaller I Am) has a cover designed by the American artist Richard McGuire. In 2014, the Morgan Library and Museum mounted an exhibition of the artist’s work titled From Here to Here: Richard McGuire Makes a Book; https://www.themorgan.org/exhibitions/From-Here-to-Here . Many of us got to know him originally through RAW magazine, the comics journal edited by Art Spiegelman and Françoise Mouly, and then the book of Here strips. (https://web.archive.org/web/20100814190317/http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~jbass/courses/402/402_mcguire_here.htm)

Luc Sante, writing for the New York Times in 2015, commented, “No one who saw that story ever forgot it: a chronicle of a life, running from 1957 to 2027, as situated in one room, with kaleidoscopic intrusions from various pasts and a wisp of a future — the house burns in 2029 and is torn down in 2030…” https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/18/books/review/richard-mcguires-here.html

See more of McGuire here https://www.richard-mcguire.com/new-page-4 and get other Skomsvold novels at your local bookshop.

Antoine Le Pautre

Robert Nanteuil (1623-1678), Antoine Le Pautre, architecte et ingenieur, 1652. Engraving. Graphic Arts Collection 2005.01080. Dumesnil no. 127. Gift of John Douglas Gordon, Class of 1905. Permanent Link: http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/r781wg115

 

Princeton University Library does not hold a copy of Antoine Le Pautre’s Desseins de plusieurs palais plans & éléuations en perspective géometrique, ensemble les profiles éleuez sur les plans, le tout dessiné et inventez par Anthoine le Pautre architecte, et ingenieur ordinaire des bastimens du Roy, first published in Paris, 1652 (=Drawings of several palaces, plans, and elevations in geometric perspective, together with the high profiles on the plans, all drawn and invented by Antoine Lepautre, architect and engineer of the King’s buildings).

A complete copy can be seen at: https://plume.epfl.ch/viewer/1452/?offset=#page=7&viewer=picture&o=info&n=0&q=

The Graphic Arts Collection does have a beautiful impression of the title page engraved by Robert Nanteuil (1623-1678), with a putti designer and architect on either side of the title frame. The print also appears in the later Les Œuvres d’architecture d’Anthoine Le Paultre, Architecte ordinaire du Roy (Paris: Lombert, 1653)

 

The younger brother of Jean Lepautre 1618-1682), Antoine grew up in a family of architects and designers. He was appointed architect of the king’s buildings in 1644 and in 1654 designed the Hôtel de Beauvais in Paris for Pierre de Beauvais, which is noted for “his ingenious irregular construction, with an original and interesting planimetric distribution, where no side of the building is parallel to the other.”

Here is a view of the courtyard, showing its unusual oval shape:

To distinguish the members of this prolific family, see Stéphane Loire, “Antoine Lepautre, Jacques Lepautre et Jean Lepautre,” in The Burlington Magazine 138, no. 1116 (1996): 198.

See also: Robert W. Berger, Antoine Le Pautre: A French Architect of the Era of Louis XIV. New York: New York University Press. OCLC 121942.

 

 

 

New Theories on the Oldest American Woodcut

John Foster (1648-1681), Mr. Richard Mather, ca.1670. Woodcut. Sinclair Hamilton no.1, Graphic Arts Collection, Princeton University Library

 

To celebrate the 350th anniversary of the oldest surviving print from Colonial America, we have assembled all five extent copies of the portrait of the Reverend Richard Mather (1596-1669) to compare them. Never exhibited together in a physical gallery, this virtual presentation will help to address the many unanswered questions surrounding the five woodcuts, such as why is his shoulder so uneven? When were they actually printed? And what was the purpose of the picture?

Princeton University is fortunate to own one of these rare impressions. With our sincere thanks, the other copies are shown courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society; Houghton Library, Harvard University; Massachusetts Historical Society, and the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History, University of Virginia.

Please join us for a live zoom talk at 2:00 p.m. EDT on May 22, 2020, beginning with a presentation by Julie Mellby, Graphic Arts Curator, Princeton University Library, followed by a conversation with Caroline Duroselle-Melish, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Early Modern Books and Prints and Associate Librarian for Collection Care and Development, Folger Shakespeare Library.

Register here: https://libcal.princeton.edu/event/6715887. A link will be sent once you register. Questions are welcome during the talk or in advance to jmellby@princeton.edu. Hope to see you there.

Need a Project no. 10? Music of the Spheres

Linda Connor and Charles Simic, On the Music of the Spheres. Artists and writers series 16. Limited ed. of 250 copies ([New York]: Library Fellows of the Whitney Museum of American Art, 1996). ReCAP Marquand Oversize TR654 .C65472 1996q

On the Music of the Spheres presents 15 tipped in tritone reproductions of Linda Connor’s gold toned printing out prints along with the poetry of Charles Simic. The results are astoundingly beautiful. One hundred copies were specially bound and signed by the poet and photographer with an additional platinum palladium print, signed by Connor, loosely inserted. The publication was named the 1998 Best Book of the Year from 21st- A Contemporary Photography Journal.

 

 


Writing for the New York Times, Phyllis Braff keenly observed

“Linda Connor stakes out ambitious visual and conceptual themes for her photographic projects, and her art has been earning wide respect for several decades. Her base is California, but she travels the world to gather content.” In reviewing On the Music of the Spheres, Braff continues “The territory Ms. Connor chooses to explore is nothing less than the heavens. Turning the idea into a multifaceted essay that stimulates the mind as well as the eye, she interweaves her prints made from the glass plates of 19th-century astrological photographers with her images of indoor and outdoor settings that portray heavenly light. Photographs of illumination entering ancient holy places in India, Turkey, Egypt and Tibet seem to subtly depict the sun’s rays as carriers of spiritual messages and these images are rather magical. Quite stunning, too, is the attention to architecture and to its use in building dramatic pictorial structure.”– Phyllis Braff, “Capturing the Elusive: Music of the Spheres,” New York Times December 15, 1996.


As noted by the Poetry Foundation, “Charles Simic is widely recognized as one of the most visceral and unique poets writing today. His work has won numerous awards, among them the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” the Griffin International Poetry Prize, the Wallace Stevens Award, and the appointment as US poet laureate. He taught English and creative writing for over 30 years at the University of New Hampshire. Although he emigrated to the US from Yugoslavia as a teenager, Simic writes in English, drawing upon his own experiences of war-torn Belgrade to compose poems about the physical and spiritual poverty of modern life. Liam Rector, writing for the Hudson Review, has noted that the author’s work “has about it a purity, an originality unmatched by many of his contemporaries.”

The project for the week is: Look up.

See also Simic’s The White Room: https://poets.org/poem/white-room
 
It begins:
The obvious is difficult
To prove. Many prefer
The hidden. I did, too.
I listened to the trees. . .

 

 

Optical games with letters

Detail from below

The Alphabet. The Alphabet in Capitals. The Lord’s Prayer. May his efforts to please his kind patrons succeed... (London: W. Snow [prob. circa 1815]). Hand colored steel engraved card, 14 x 10.5 cm. Graphic Arts Collection Recap 103360002
Detail from below.

 

 

This fun piece of ephemera offers three puzzles on one printed card, each with an optical trick. Published by W. Snow in Theobalds Road, London, the card showcases two alphabets written in the shape of monograms and a micrographic script with Lord’s Prayer.

W. Snow might refer to William Higgin Snow, publisher of another optical trick: A map of the country ten miles round London, printed around 1815 on a card 15 x 12 cm, the same as our optical card.

Such printed games were popular throughout the 19th century. A second copy of Snow’s card can be found in the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera at the Bodleian Library along with dozens of other examples of the Lord’s Prayer or other texts “written in the compass of a silver penny.” https://library.princeton.edu/resource/4747

Here’s Two ALPHABETS rare;
With our blessed LORDS PRAYER;
‘Graven neat, Sirs, to please,
With precision and care.

While the ARTIST relies
On the strength of your eyes
And the help of kind Judgement
To AID his supplies

May his efforts to please his kind PATRONS succeed
And He’ll Emulous prove and feel grateful indeed.

 

Can you find all the letters of the alphabet?
X and Z might be the most difficult, easier in capitals below.