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Once a Chicken, Always a Chicken, a film script by László Moholy-Nagy


Telehor: The International Review New Vision (Mezinárodní časopis pro visuální kulturu / Internationale Zeitschrift für visuelle Kultur / Revue internationale pour la culture visuelle). Brno, Czechoslovakia: Frantisek Kalivoda, 1936. Vol. 1 no 1-2: Published as a special double-issue devoted to L. Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946). Foreword by Siegfried Giedion; essays by L. Moholy-Nagy; design, typography and postscript by František Kalivoda. Text in English, French, German and Czech. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process


This rare Czech serial (never went beyond the first issue) focuses on the career of the Bauhaus professor and modern artist László Moholy-Nagy. Through the words of the artist himself, the issue presents his theories on the plastic arts, film, theater, and in particular, photography as “the new vision.” There are 69 photographs, film clips, and reproductions of his work.

Texts include:
Letter to Frantisek Kalivoda by Moholy-Nagy
From Pigment to Light by Moholy-Nagy
A New Instrument of Vision by Moholy-Nagy
Problems of the Modern Film by Moholy-Nagy
Once a Chicken, Always a Chicken by Moholy-Nagy: a film script on a motif from Kurt Schwitter’s Auguste Bolte

The Tabula of Cebes or The Journey of Human Life

Cornelio Pepoli, Lettere instruttive intorno alla Tavola di Cebete …col Nome Pastorale di Cratejo Erasiniano (Venezia: Appresso Francesco Sansoni, 1771). Frontispiece engraved after Hans Holbein (1497-1543). Includes Latin and Italian versions of the Kebētos Thēbaiou pinax, on facing pages. Graphic Arts (GAX) 2010- in process

Cebes of Thebes (ca. 430-350 B.C.E.) was a member of Socrates’ inner circle. One of the dialogs that has been attributed to him is the Pinax or Tabula, also known as the Tablet of Cebes.

In fact, it was probably Hellenistic, from the second or at the earliest, the first century. The Tabula was well known in antiquity, and after the first modern publication in the late fifteenth century, popular in Europe through the eighteenth century (such as this example).


Pepoli’s bilingual text is a dialogue describing a vast panoramic painting of human life in allegorical terms, and depicting the dangers and temptations that the frail human pilgrims encounter. It is an attempt to show that only the proper development of our mind and the possession of real virtues can make us truly happy. Parallels are often drawn between this work and John Bunyons’ The Pilgrims’ Progress.

Frontispiece is based on a design by Hans Holbein (below), although Pepoli’s includes a key at the foot of the plate identifying the highlights and low points of human progress, such as genius, luck and happiness, but also misery, penitence, folly of love, and much more.


Below: Hans Holbein’s title page with the Tabula Cebetis, metalcut, 1521. Kunstmuseum Basel. First used in De patienta, in Quintus Septimius Tertullian’s Opera …, edited by Beatus Rhenanus, Basel: Johann Froben, July 1521.



Princeton has a large collection of Tabula Cebetis. Here are two more examples.

See also Princeton’s Rare Books blog:

For more information: John T. Fitzgerald and Michael White, Kebētos Thēbaiou pinax (The Tabula of Cebes) (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983). Classics Collection (Clas). Firestone PA3948.C2 A24 1983


Above: Cebes, of Thebes, Paráfrasis árabe de la tabla de Cebes. Traducida en castellano é illustrada con notas por Pablo Lozano y Casela. (Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1793). Rare Books (Ex) 2010-1020N

Below: Hendrick Laurenszoon Spieghel (1549-1612), H. L. Spieghels Hertspieghel en andere zede-schriften (Amsterdam: Hendrik Wetstein, 1694). Rare Books (Ex) N7710 .S64 1694

Frans Masereel's cuts for Some Corners of the Heart


Henri Barbusse and Frans Masereel, Quelques Coins du coeur (Some Corners of the Heart), (Genève: Le Sablier, 1921). Graphic Arts (GAX) 2010- in process

The Flemish artist Frans Masereel (1889-1972) is best remembered for his graphic novels, in the classic sense of the term. Masereel settled originally in France but moved a great deal, returning to Paris in 1921 when he completed the illustrations for Henri Barbusse’s novel Quelques coins du coeur (Some Corners of the Heart). In all, Masereel completed over twenty graphic novels, most of which are available at Princeton.


As a pacifist, soon to be member of the French communist party, Masereel had great sympathy for the work of Henri Barbusse (1873-1935), who was also politically outspoken. Both campaigned in 1921 in favor of Sacco and Vanzetti. 1921 was also the year Barbusse completed Le Couteau entre les dents (The Knife Between My Teeth), which reflected his sympathy with Bolshevism.

Weekly Freeman Cartoons


The Weekly Freeman was the weekend edition of the Freeman’s Journal, a nationalist daily broadsheet published in Dublin from 1763 to 1924, when it was merged into the Irish Independent.

In the 1870s, the Weekly began offering a large format political cartoon with each issue. These color lithographs featured the political figures and events of the day. Irish artist John Fergus O’Hea (ca.1838-1922) was responsible for these plates from 1881 to March 1892, when the job was handed to his assistant, Thomas Fitzpatrick (1860-1912). This collection of forty-five cartoons from 1892 includes the work of both artists.


Even if you don’t understand the politics of the day, you can recognize the figure of Erin, the female personification of Ireland, and Pat, the male personification of the Irish people (usually seen as a tenant farmer).

For more information, see: Lewis Perry Curtis, Apes and Angels: the Irishman in Victorian Caricature. Rev. ed. (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997). Firestone Library DA925 .C85 1997


The Last Words of Louis and Marie



Alphonse Pélicier, Dernières paroles de Louis XVI and Dernières paroles de Marie-Antoinette, 1830? Engravings. Graphic Arts GA 2010. in process

Each of these silhouettes was created by the French engraver Pélicier, from texts written by Louis XVI (1754-1793) and his wife Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793). The King’s words come from his will, written on Christmas Day, 1792. Marie-Antoinette is drawn from a letter to her sister-in-law, dated October 6, 1793.

Remember that an engraved plate must be laterally reversed, cutting the letters right to left, so that when it is printed the text can be read left to right. The only thing I know about Pélicier is that a number of early nineteenth-century maps credit him for the lettering: La Lettre gravee par A[lphon]se Pélicier.

Edition Schwarze Seite


Edition Schwarze Seite (Black Page Edition) is the small press of German artists Anne Buessow and Eckhard Froeschlin. Froeschlin writes “our books are a combination of original graphic art: etchings, woodcuts or lithographies, with letterpress, mostly handset texts.” For the last twelve years, Froeschlin has spent time each year in Nicaragua, holding printing workshops and collaborating with the TallerContil group in Matagalpa. Four artists’ books emerged from this project, specifically focused on the culture, poetry, and graphic arts of Nicaragua.

The TallerContil started with woodcuts printed in the most basic conditions and evolved to a well-fitted studio boasting an etching press and a Hollander beater, both built in Matagalpa. The two volumes seen here resulted from the Wuppertal-Matagalpa friendships. Note: There will be a workshop about this collaboration at the upcoming CODEX III conference.

Above, Pablo Antonio Cuadra (1912-2002) [poetry], Eckhard Froeschlin [etchings], El Nicán-Náuat (Wuppertal: Editions Schwarze Seite, 2003). Edition: 25. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

Below: Ernesto Soto [short stories], Eckhard Froeschlin [etchings], Casas Perdidas = Fundstücke [Lost Homes] (Wuppertal: Editions Schwarze Seite, 2010). Edition: 25. Texts in Spanish and German translated by Guenter Schmigalle. Handmade mould paper by Danilo Rivera, Matagalpa, using banana leaf fibers. Handbound by Roger Green using Nicaraguan coffee bags. Graphic Arts 2010- in process


Sheets of Evidence


The most beautiful book published in 2009 was Sheets of Evidence by South African artist William Kentridge in collaboration with Dieu Donné Press. When you come to see a copy in our reading room and begin leafing through its pages of pristine hand-made paper, all you will see is just that: blank paper.

The eighteen pages are, in fact, filled with drawings and text by Kentridge translated into watermarks with the assistance of Susan Gosin and Paul Wong. The concept was “to create a book whose surface revealed nothing, and instead encouraged the viewer to, not simply read between the lines, but to look beneath the surface.”

To create the watermarks, the drawings and text were scanned, digitized, and cut into adhesive-backed rubber watermarks, which were then adhered to wove moulds. Sheets were formed with short cotton linter pulp, pressed to 2300 psi, and stack dried on pellons at Dieu Donné Papermill. This non-profit artist workspace is dedicated to the creation, promotion, and preservation of contemporary art in the hand papermaking process. To see some of the completed pages, click here

William Kentridge, Sheets of Evidence (New York: DD Publishing Program in collaboration with Dieu Donné Press, 2009). Edition: 20. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

The Journal of Popular Noise

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The Journal of Popular Noise, edited by Bryon Kalet. Vol. one, issue 1-3 (spring/summer 2007) - . Graphic Arts (GAX) 2010- in process
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The Journal of Popular Noise, under the direction of Byron Kalet, “is a semi-annual audio magazine inspired by the traditions of pop music, printed periodicals, and the delight of a finely crafted artifact.” Produced in editions of 300, each issue includes a hand-folded (by Kalet himself), letter-press printed broadside that serves at once as scholarly journal, musical score, and record sleeve holding three seven-inch vinyls.

According to their website, instructions are given to each artist to contemplate during the composition and production of their record. These instructions are completely open to interpretation by the artists. Loosely based on the pop song structures canonized during the mid to late 20th century, the order of appearance is according to the standard format of a traditional magazine. To read the instructions on each track, see

In an interview, Kalet said, “I grew up playing music in Seattle, but abandoned that path … to move to New York and study design. I found that there was a lot of common ground between the rules that go into a good printed composition and those that go into musical ones. I think people have been exploring this overlap for a while (Kandinsky, Cage, and Eno to name just a few) but I don’t think anyone really took it out of the experimental or academic realm and tried to produce some pop culture version of it…”

Valentin Popov

Valentin Popov, 21 Original Etchings based on Ivan Turgenev’s The Torrents of Spring (San Rafael: Gordian Press, 2009). Gift of Dr. Gunther Haller and Lyhn Haller.

The Russian novelist Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883) wrote The Torrents of Spring in 1872. Over one hundred years later, the Ukrainian artist Valentin Popov created twenty-one etchings to bring this novel back to life. The story is a romantic tale of Dimitri Sanin, a young Russian who falls in love with a seductive woman named Gemma while traveling in Europe.

Popov’s website tells us that the project was “originally begun in 1983 with a grant from the Academy of Fine Art of the USSR. The etchings took approximately three years to complete and in 1988 received the Academy’s Silver medal.”


Each hard-ground etching includes additions of dry point, aquatint, and/or burnishing. They are overprinted with a combination of transparent yellow and white inks. Each edition, designed by Stephen Black of San Rafael, is presented in a clamshell box covered in Japanese silk with a copper plate affixed in a debossed area on the cover.


Forty-two numbered sets were produced, with five additional Artist Proofs and three Museum Proofs. Graphic Arts has one of the Artist Proof editions. Firestone also holds a copy of Popov’s illustrated trade edition: Ivan Sergeevich Turgenev (1818-1883), The Torrents of Spring; illustrated by Valentin Popov; translated by Ivy and Tatiana Litvonov (New York: Grove Press, 1996). PG3421 .V5 1996.

For more images, see

I Would Prefer Not To

Herman Melville (1819-1891) and Joseph Scanlan, Two Views (Brussels: Bartleby & Co., 2003). Copy 26 of 50. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

This artists’ book includes the stories “Bartleby, the Scrivener” by Herman Melville and “Window Stunt” by Joe Scanlan, Professor of Visual Arts in the Lewis Center for the Arts and Director of the Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University. Scanlan first wrote this variation on Melville’s short story in the course of nine straight days, transposing the New York City narrative to Chicago where he was living. The 2003 volume marks his third refinement on Bartleby, this time moving the story to Brooklyn, as Scanlan rewrites the same story over and over again in an effort to make it perfect.

Mr. Scanlan writes, “I was delighted when Thorsten Baensch proposed to me the idea of Two Views. His books are so beautifully realized that I was able to overcome the absurdity of publishing a short story of mine alongside Herman Melville. Thorsten pays great attention to detail and insists on reading being a hands-on experience, from the handmade storage box to the tipped-in plates to the color of thread for the binding.”

“Of course the coup de gras is the stereoscopic viewer that is “hidden” under the cushion for the book. It was my idea to include it—I liked the obvious play on the idea of “two views”—but it was Thorsten who knew there was an extensive stereoscopic image archive at Williams Collge, so he went there and would not leave until he found an image of Wall Street from the same era as Bartleby the Scrivener.”


A Gift of William Steig Drawings

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The Graphic Arts collection is extremely fortunate to have received a donation of 187 original drawings by William Steig (1907-2003) from the Steig Family estate. These include cartoons for the New Yorker, drawings for his children’s and adult books, and some work that has never been published.


In his obituary, the New York Times noted that William Steig “graduated from high school when he was 15, and studied for two years at City College in New York, three years at the National Academy of Design and five days at Yale.” Art critic Sarah Boxer went on to note that “in the mid-1930’s, Mr. Steig began making ”symbolic drawings,” pen-and-ink works expressing states of mind. Like the poems of E. E. Cummings, they were subconscious excursions rendered on paper. When these drawings came out, nobody had seen anything quite like them.”


Steig sold his first drawing to the New Yorker in 1930 and has contributed more than 1600 cartoons to the magazine. His work joins drawings by other great New Yorker cartoonist in our collection, such as Henry Martin, Whitney Darrow Jr., George Booth, and many others. Our library also holds twenty-two books of his wonderful drawings, including Grown-Ups Get To Do All the Driving, Rejected Lovers, Agony in the Kindergarten, and of course, Shrek!


We are sincerely grateful to Ms. Jeanne Steig and the administrators of the estate for their generosity and assistance in making the donation possible. Please note that Ms. Steig is also a marvelous artist. See an interview at:


Drawings by William Marshall Craig

William Marshall Craig (ca. 1765- ca. 1834), Original Drawings by William Marshall Craig painter to Queen Charlotte & H.R.H. Duke of York, together with many of his coloured drawings for the Marquess of Stafford Gallery 1810-12 ([London, early 19th century, some dated 1803 and 1811]). Graphic Arts GA2010- in process


The British artist William Marshall Craig (ca. 1765- ca. 1834) painted miniature portraits of the royalty and the aristocracy of late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century London. In this recently acquired sketchbook, we see nine wash drawings and forty-one hand-colored etchings, including “Pleasures of the Imagination” (above). The original poem (published 1743) is by Mark Akenside, but this drawing is oddly accompanied by three lines attributed to George Crabbe.

An illustration to The Tempest, (Act I scene ii), showing Prospero and Miranda (below) is the only drawing fully colored. The album was apparently compiled about a century after Craig’s death. Both the style and the bookplate, which is that of Sir Algernon Tudor-Craig (1873-1943), suggest that it was put together in about 1910-20. According to Christopher Edwards, Tudor-Craig was a herald and an authority on eighteenth-century Chinese armorial porcelain, but he also compiled a catalogue of the library of the Freemasons’ Hall in London.


Craig is best remembered for his course of lectures on drawing, painting, and engraving delivered and then published in 1821 (Firestone ND1130.C9).

The title page of that book recognizes him as “painter to his Royal Highness the Duke of York” and so, it is interesting that his introduction reflects on patronage, in particular. He writes, “Patronage is the proper nutriment of arts, but it should be patronage founded on solid common sense, and on feelings refined by contemplation; or, like deleterious food, it will excite bad habits, and unwholesome usages, in those who receive it.

…An artist may labour for years, and without ceasing to produce works of real excellence; but it is all in vain, unless he find persons qualified to appreciate his powers; and, on the other hand, when youthful talent begins to show its dawnings, the well-informed patron may greatly assist to guide and direct its course, till it arrive at meridian splendour.”


David Godine celebrates 40 years in publishing

“It began in a barn with one press and three smart people,” said the fine press publisher David Godine last night at the opening of an exhibition of his books held at the Grolier Club in New York City. While still in his early twenties, Godine rented an abandoned cow barn in Brookline, Massachusetts, for the price of one book a year. 1968 and 1969 were spent fitting it out with the basics—electricity, heat, and plumbing—before he, Lance Hidy, and Martha Rockwell could begin production.

David R. Godine Inc. had three basic guidelines: to offer a wide selection of books of editorial and textual importance; to produce books that delighted the eye and did not offend the purse; and to maintain the highest production standards.


One of their most ambitious early projects was Specimen Days by Walt Whitman (1819-1892). Because of the large edition size, the book was set at Stinehour Press and printed by Meriden Press. “We would be the architects, but not necessarily the builders,” writes Godine. A three-page rave review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review assured the book’s success. “The next day Richard Abel called from Oregon to order five hundred copies. We had never shipped more than three copies of anything to anyone in our history.” (GAX Oversize 2007-0365Q)

I am one of the fortunate few who walked away last night with a copy of the keepsake Godine wrote and printed for the occasion: David Godine: the Letterpress Years: Offprint from Matrix 29.


Princeton holds hundreds of Godine books, including eight of his rare imprints from 1969 printed at Leonard Baskin’s Gehenna Press, where Godine was an apprentice while still preparing his own shop:

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Civil Disobedience. Graphic Arts Collection (GA) HM278 .T45 1969

Stephen Spender (1909-1995), Generous Days. Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2004-3567N

Joel Barlow (1754-1812), Hasty-pudding; a poem in three cantos written at Chambery in Savoy during January MDCCLXXXXIII. Graphic Arts Off-Site RCPXG-3164531

James Agee (1909-1955), Last letter of James Agee to Father Flye. Graphic Arts Off-Site RCPXG-3164614

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), Plea for Captain John Brown. Graphic Arts Collection 2004-3568N

Beatrice Warde (1900-1969), Rescuing mouse: a speech. Graphic Arts 2010-0708N

Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), To his coy mistress. Graphic Arts Off-Site RCPXG-3169583

Arthur Freeman (1938-1970), Assays of bias. Rare Books (Ex) PS3511.R425 A9

For more, see:

Frederick Evans' platinotypes for the Immortal Don

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), The History of Don Quixote of the Mancha. Translated from the Spanish … by Thomas Shelton, annis 1612, 1620. Introductions by James Fitzmaurice-Kelly, 1896 ([London: privately printed, 1913]). 4 volumes extra-illustrated with 99 platinotypes. Vol. 1 contains an addition title-page: “Illustrations to Cervantes’ Don Quixote by Arthur Boyd Houghton, 1866. Facsimile reproductions in platinotype of Dalziel Brothers’ woodcuts by Frederick H. Evans. Privately printed, MCMXIII.” Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process.

This four volume set of Don Quixote belonged to the photographer and bookseller Frederick Henry Evans (1853-1943). The set is extra-illustrated with 99 photographic facimiles of illustrations drawn by Arthur Boyd Houghton (1836-1875) and printed by the Brothers Dalziel (Edward, George, John, Margaret Jane!, and Thomas), the most influential British wood engraving firm in the 1860s and 1870s. Evans made these plates by photographing the ink prints and then, using the negative to make platium (photographic) positives.

According to a note from Evans, only three platium prints were made from each negative and then, the negative was destroyed. Evans printed and privately published this edition of three, as he did with a number of classic illustrated books in his personal library. Each volume has two Frederick Evans’ bookplates: one designed by F.C. Tilney and the other an adaptation of the Morte Darthur borders by Aubrey Beardsley (possibly authorized by the artist).

Evans also wrote: “The smaller drawings have been enlarged to make the set uniform in size. These drawings - the most imaginative, respectful and comedically heroic ever made for the immortal Don - have been reproduced in this beautiful photographic process expressly to illustrate the best English translation….”


And if that is not enough, laid-in is an autographed letter dated 1916, from Charles Ricketts. “Dear Mr. Evans, I remember you quite well and congratulate you on your reproductions of Houghton’s Don Quixote illustrations. …It may interest you to know that Whistler, who admired Houghton greatly, has a special liking for the Don Quixote series which he was the first to bring to my notice. Ever sincerely yours, C. Ricketts”.

Waiting in line for your daily newspaper

William Endicott, lithographed after a drawing by H. F. Cox, Post Office, San Francisco, California. A Faithful Representation of the Crowds Daily Applying at that Office for Letters and Newspapers. Lithograph. New York: William Endicott & Co., [ca. 1850]. Graphic Arts GA2010- In process

The California Gold rush began in January 1848, bringing nearly 300,000 people to California. On November 9, 1848, the first San Francisco branch of the United States Post Office opened at the corner of Clay and Pike Streets. During the height of the gold rush, there was no delivery of mail to the mines or to the tent cities of Sacramento and Stockton. Miners had to come to San Francisco, where lines began forming early each morning for the 7:00 a.m. opening.

Notice that there are four lines. On the left, where the sign says “Espanol”, the branch offered Spanish speaking service. In the middle was general delivery and on the right box delivery. Around the corner to the far right was a door where daily newspapers were collected. By October 1849, more than 45,000 letters had piled up undelivered in this post office and the clerks had to barricade themselves in to protect themselves from the crowd.

Harry Twyford Peters (1881-1948), California on Stone (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Doran & Company, inc., 1935). Graphic Arts: Reference Collection (GARF) Oversize NE2310.C2 P4 1935q

Ted Morgan, A Shovel of Stars: the Making of the American West, 1800 to the Present (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1995). Firestone Library (F) F591 .M865 1995

More Jack Sheppard

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The Daily Journal. Tuesday 17 November 1724
“Yesterday morning, about nine of the clock, the famous John Sheppard was carried up from the Condemn’d Hold to the Chapel in Newgate, where having heard prayers and received the Holy Sacrament, he was brought down again to the Press-Yard between ten and eleven, when Mr Watson came in the name of the sheriffs to demand his body;

Mr Perry and Mr Reuse … deliver’d the same: Mr Watson told the prisoner, that he must put him on a pair of handcuffs for his security; he vehemently resisted the same, flying into the greatest passion, and endeavour’d to beat the Officers; upon searching him, they found a penknife conceal’d about his cloaths, with which ‘tis apprehended, he design’d to have cut the ropes, and attempted to escape out of the car … .

When he arrived at the Tree, he sent for Mr Applebee, a printer, into the cart, and in the view of several thousands of people, deliver’d to him a printed pamphlet, Entitled, A Narrative of all the Robberies and Escapes of John Sheppard, … which he desired might be forthwith printed and publish’d.”

Portions of this text, written by Sheppard, are reprinted in: The Life and Exploits of Jack Sheppard: a Notorious Housebreaker and Footpad; giving a full acount of his numerous robberies: his escape from the New Prison; his commitment to Newgate; he is tried, and receives sentence of death; his wonderful escape from thence although loaded with irons; he is retaken, confined in the condemned cell, and chained to the floor; then removed to a stronger place in Newgate, called the Castle, from which place he escapes in the night; he is again taken, and secured in Newgate; after which he is hung at Tyburn (Derby: Thomas Richardson; London: Simpkin, Marshall and Co.; Portsea: S. Horsey, [1830?]). Graphic Arts Collection (GAX) 2010-1247N

Newpaper text from: Rictor Norton, “Jack Sheppard, Jail-Breaker,” Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, 9 October 2003.

Sunrise is coming after while

Langston Hughes (1902-1967), Sunrise is Coming After While. Poems selected by Maya Angelou; prints by Phoebe Beasley (New York: Limited Editions Club, 1998). Copy 170 of 300. Numbered and signed by Phoebe Beasley and Maya Angelou. Graphic Arts GAX 2010- in process

The Limited Editions Club created and published modern fine press editions for a small group of subscribers. This was a high volume business, with as many as twelve projects completed each year in editions of 1500. The Club was founded and managed by George Macy (1900-1956) from 1929 to 1956; by Helen Macy from 1956 to 1968; and their son Jonathan Macy from 1968 to 1970. During the 1970s, the imprint was bought and sold several times, with little artistic success until 1978, when Sidney Shiff (1924-2010) took over.


Under Shiff’s direction, a number of beautiful livres d’artistes were produced highlighting the work of African American writers and artists. For the 1998 season, Shiff contacted the poet Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Annie Johnson, 1928) and LA artist Phoebe Beasley (born 1944) to develop a book of poetry by Langston Hughes (1902-1967). Angelou selected the poems and Beasley responded to them with six brightly colored screen prints. Angelou then completed the volume by writing both an introduction and an afterword. Drexel Press printed Beasley’s plates and the text was designed and hand-set in Monotype perpetua by Michael and Winifred Bixler.


For more information on Angelou, see
For more information on Beasley, see
For more information on Hughes, see
For more information on the Limited Editions Club, see
William Burton, “The Decline and Fall of The Limited Editions Club,” American Book Collector (July/August 1980).


First Cuban illustrated book

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Born in Portugal, Antonio Parra y Callado traveled to Cuba around 1771 on a commission from Madrid’s newly established Royal Cabinet of Natural History (later called the National Museum of Natural Sciences). The thirty-two-year-old enthusiast, with no academic training, collected plants and seeds to be sent back to the museum’s Botanical Garden.

Parra quickly became fascinated with the Cuban culture, the topography, and the diverse natural history of the Caribbean. His studies expanded, eventually focusing on marine life, collecting and documenting specimens of salt and fresh water fish, crustaceans, corals, eels, turtles, and other marine plant life over the next thirty years.

Parra married and his son, Manuel Antonio Parra y Muñoz, was born in Havana. A talented artist, Manuel joined his father’s research team while still a teen-ager, sketching, etching, and printing images of the specimens they collected. Together they published an exhaustive study of the fish of Cuba, which is believed to be the first scientific treatise published in Cuba, as well as the first Cuban illustrated book.

The volume describes and illustrates sixty different species of fish and twenty-three crustaceans. Among the most interesting is a folding plate following the title page that presents a group of lobsters on an elaborate silver platter. The book’s plates account for nearly one half of the island’s production of printed images in the eighteenth century. Parra established his own Cabinet of Natural History in Havana; I wonder if anyone reading this has been there?

The final chapter, added without explanation, documents a black slave with an enlarged hernia. Identified by researchers at the John Carter Brown Library as Domingo Fernández, this man was one of the first Caribbean slaves to be depicted in a published source.


Antonio Parra y Callado (1739-18??), Descripcion de diferentes piezas de historia natural las mas del ramo maritimo: representadas en setenta y cinco laminas (Havana: En la imprenta de la Capitanía General, 1787). 75 copper plate etchings, one hand colored. Graphic Arts (GAX) in process. Purchased with the fund given by Kenneth H. Rockey, Class of 1916, in memory of his wife, Isabel A. Rockey.


Bernard Reilly, in his catalogue American Political Prints, 1766-1876, describes this Thomas Nast broadside as “a searing, election-year indictment of four prominent figures in the democratic party.” He continues:

“Former New York governor and democratic presidential nominee Horatio Seymour is portrayed as a ‘rioter.’ Standing in a burning city, he waves his hat in the air while he steps on the back of a crawling figure. In the background a corpse hangs from a lamppost. Between 1862 and 1964 Seymour had opposed Lincoln’s was policies, and he was branded as instigator of the 1863 New York draft riots.”

“Tennessee general Nathan Bedford Forrest, the founder of the Ku Klux Klan, and infamous for his role in the massacre of surrendered Union troops at Fort Pillow, is called ‘The Butcher Forrest.’ He waves a flag labeled ‘No Quarter’ and fires a pistol.”

“Confederate Admiral Raphael Semmes is portrayed as a pirate, wielding a knife in one hand and holding a flaming torch in the other … . Semmes was the scourge of Union shipping during the Civil War. Under his command the Alabama, a British-built ship, captured sixty-two merchant vessels, most of which were burned. An excerpt from Semmes’s July 1868 speech at Mobile, Alabama, appears below this image.”

“Confederate cavalry officer Wade Hampton appears as a hangman. He holds his plumed hat at his side and wears inscribed ‘C.S.A.’ (Confederate States of America). In the distance three Yankee soldiers hang from a gallows.”

Thomas Nast (1840-1902), Leaders of the Democratic Party, 1868. 38 x 24 inches (96 x 61 cm). Wood engraved broadside. Graphic arts GA2010- in process.

Bernard Reilly, American Political Prints, 1766-1876 (Boston, Mass.: G.K. Hall, 1991). Graphic Arts Collection (GA) Oversize E183.3 .R45 1991q.

Tobacco packaging papers


“Tobacco was among the first commodities to be sold in printed paper wrappers,” writes Michael Twyman, in his Enclyclopedia of Ephemera.

“The design element of tobacco papers was normally confined to the centre of the printed sheet, which was large enough to accommodate varying quantities of tobacco. The earliest designs were in the tradition of the bookplate, but later they took on the characteristics of the trade card and were often printed from plates actually designed as trade cards. Engraved pictorial designs were common in Germany, Holland, and France; although almost everywhere they gave way to the crude woodcuts that were to remain the common denominator….”

Here are three recently acquired nineteenth-century examples from Amsterdam.

Maurice Rickards, The Encyclopedia of Ephemera; edited and completed by Michael Twyman, with the assistance of Sally De Beaumont and Amoret Tanner (New York: Routledge, 2000). Graphic Arts: Reference Collection (GARF), Oversize NC1280 .R52 2000q

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