Images of Interest
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Mysteries and Requests
Intaglio plate with lettering going both ways
Rare Book School received a dozen smallish early 20th-century British intaglio copper printing plates, most of them made for printing stock certificates and the like; the plates show various handsomely engraved ornamental, Roman, and script faces.
The top half of one of the plates has right-side-up lettering, whereas the bottom half of the same plate has the lettering upside down -- not reversed, just upside-down; see scans of a proof of the plate and the copper plate itself below.
Can anyone explain why the writing has the double orientation? The two sections of writing seem to be carefully aligned to one another, even though one is upside down and the other right-side up; so this would NOT seem to be the case of the equivalent of a crazy-quilt-like mother stone in lithography.
Mystery Wood-Engraved Block
Unidentified wood-engraved block from the Vincent Price Collection: can you identify the artist, the interpretive wood-engraver, or the book where this illustration first appeared? If so, please let us know!
Mystery Solved: Steel-Engraved Portrait of A. L. Jordan
Several years ago, RBS acquired a 7 x 10" steel plate, ca. 1885, showing an engraved head-and-shoulders portrait of a man identified by his signature in the plate as one A. L. Jordan. A faint caption at the base of the oval image reads: "Engraved by John Sartain. Phil." The subject's face is realized primarily in mezzotint; the rest of the oval image is engraved.
We had wondered if this might be a portrait of the A. L. Jordan (b. 1846) who wrote “Gen. Jos. E. Johnston: a review of his military career” (Pulaski, VA: 1907). But in fact a bit of re-Googling showed that it is a portrait of Ambrose L. Jordan (1789 - 1865), a prominent Hudson (later New York), NY, lawyer sometimes known as “aqua fortis” Jordan; Jordan's biography may conveniently be found in Wikipedia. The portrait is reproduced (p. 238) in Richard H. Levet’s “Ambrose L. (Aqua Fortis) Jordan, Lawyer” (NY 1973).
Below is a scan (flipped horizontally and reversed), made directly from our steel plate, showing the portrait and its accompanying engraved signature. [View Image]
Printed Corners on Dustjackets
RBS was recently given a nice copy of Van Wyck Brooks' The Times of Melville and Whitman (NY: Dutton, 1947). The rear flap of the dustjacket is shown below. We're interested in learning more about the purpose behind printing the book's title, author, and publisher information in the lower left-hand corner of the flap. The dotted line above this information indicates that it was intended to be removed from the dj. We believe that bookdealers snipped off these corners to facilitate inventory control. Does anyone know what such corners were called in the retail book or publishing trades, or when the practiced flourished, or how widespread was its use?
Books in Sheets
RBS owns about 65 copies of 26 different books in sheets — that is, books still consisting of flat printed piles of unfolded (or, occasionally, incompletely folded) sheets, never bound. Here is a fairly detailed list of our holdings, updated to March 2003.
Please note that viewing the file(s) above requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which can be downloaded for free at Adobe's web site. If you are not sure whether or not you need this program, try clicking the link; if the expected file does not appear, click on the image below and follow the instructions on the resulting page.
We're always interested in knowing who else has copies of these books, whether still in sheets or otherwise; and we're always interested in acquiring additional examples, by gift, trade, or purchase.