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Guide to the Graphic Arts File
ca. 1700 - ca. 1950
  PR 22

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Jenny Gotwals

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 10, 2017
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Graphic Arts File
Dates [inclusive]: ca. 1700 - ca. 1950
Abstract: The Graphic Arts File primarily contains samples of commercial and experimental printing produced in the United States and Europe.
Quantity: 7.5 Linear feet
Location note: Department of Print, Photograph, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 22

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Scope and Content Note

The Graphic Arts File spans the period from ca. 1700 to ca. 1950 and primarily contains samples of commercial and experimental printing produced in the United States and Europe. The collection is divided into two series: American Graphic Arts; and European Graphic Arts. In 1937, The New-York Historical Society bought the entirety of Elie Nadelman's Folk Art Museum; therefore many items in the Graphic Arts File, especially in the European Graphic Arts series, comprise that acquisition. It has not been possible to totally recreate the Nadelman collection as items have been dispersed throughout this and other print room collections. Most Nadelman materials are stamped on the back with the Nadelman name. When possible, items with this provenance will be identified below.

Series I. American Graphic Arts is organized by genre or object type, these are listed chronologically. Miscellaneous materials are filed at the end, and include etchings and engravings.

Series II. European Graphic Arts is divided by format, which are listed chronologically. This series includes a lot of material from the Nadelman Collection of Folk Art.


Materials are filed chronologically within series.

The collection is divided into two series:

  1. Series I. American Graphic Arts
  2. Series II. European Graphic Arts

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Bostwick, Henry, 1787 - 1837, engraver
  • Comstock, Andrew, 1795 - 1964
  • Continental Bank Note Company
  • Homer, Winslow, – 1836 - 1910
  • Mount, William Sidney, – 1807 - 1868
  • Nadelman, Elie, 1882 - 1946, collector
  • Rawdon, Wright & Hatch
  • Selby, Prideaux John, -- 1788 - 1867
  • Volkmar, Charles

Document Type

  • Alphabet books
  • Baptismal certificates
  • Birth certificates
  • Board games
  • Charts
  • Chromolithographs
  • Engravings
  • Ephemera
  • Jigsaw puzzles
  • Lithographs
  • Pantins
  • Paper Money
  • Pattern sheets
  • Photomechanical prints
  • Prints

Subject Topics

  • Printing – Specimens

Subject Places

  • Europe – Description and travel
  • New York (N.Y.) – Description and travel
  • United States – History

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Administrative Information


The collection has been assembled from multiple gifts and purchases

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers, by appointment only.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to 30 photocopies per day per person. Suitability of the original for photocopying is at the discretion of the staff. Neither blueprints nor tracings can be copied under any circumstances. Duplication of large-format items will be done by the house photographer. See Print Room guidelines for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to reproduce any Print Room holdings through publication must be obtained from

Rights and Reproductions
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

Phone: (212) 873-3400 ext. 282
Fax: (212) 579-8794

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Graphic Arts File, PR 022, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

The Bella C. Landauer Collection of Business and Advertising Ephemera (PR 031) contains similar ephemera utilizing many of the printing techniques shown in this collection. The New-York Historical Society's Museum holds hand-drawn frakturs, as well as the bulk of the Nadelman Collection of Folk Art.

Separated Material

The Graphic Arts File was originally conceived as an umbrella category for printed material and ephemera. In 2001-2002, many categories of material were removed from the Graphic Arts File based on their shared provenance or special format. These are now the:

  1. American Art-Union Print Collection (PR 159)
  2. James Carroll Beckwith Artist File (PR 158)
  3. Bryan Gallery of Christian Art Print Collection (PR 143)
  4. Clipper Ship Card Collection (PR 116)
  5. Issacher Cozzens Print Collection (PR 145)
  6. Louis Durr Print Collection (PR 142)
  7. European Print File (PR 151)
  8. William Rickarby Miller Artist File (PR 152)
  9. Paper Doll Collection (PR 161)
  10. Patriotic Envelope Collection (PR 117)
  11. Pictorial Calendar Collection (PR 146)
  12. Pictorial Lettersheet Collection (PR 144)
  13. Playing Card and Game Collection (PR 115)
  14. Luman Reed Print Collection (PR 141)
  15. Society of Iconophiles Print Collection (PR 160)
  16. Vache Family Embroidery Pattern Collection (PR 163)
  17. George Henry Yewell Print Collection (PR 153)

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Container List

Series I. American Graphic Arts

Scope and Contents note

Fraktur illuminations are Pennsylvania Dutch birth and baptismal certificates, house blessings, and general spiritual texts. The 38 examples here are usually woodcut printed, decoratively inscribed, and colored with one, two or three colors. These were originally part of the Nadelman Folk Art Collection.

John Cox's Drawing Book is an instructional drawing book, with printed pictures for the aspiring artist to copy. This particular drawing book is assembled from pages from the fifth edition of the English educational volume, The Preceptor: containing a general course of education: wherein the first principles of polite learning are laid down in a way most suitable for trying the genius, and advancing the instruction of youth. . . (Dodsley, 1769.) The pages compiled here contain pictures of animals, busts, classical figures, landscapes, and natural history specimens.

Lesson Boards are wooden tablets used for instruction in school or home. Text is printed onto the wood or onto paper pasted over the surface. Several of the 8 examples contain alphabets and reading instruction. Others show a picture of an animal with a simple story about it printed underneath. One has a bible verse.

Wall Charts are 14 large charts (some are as large as 61 x 56 inches), dating from 1827 to 1878 and encompassing natural history, chemistry, the alphabet, genealogy, and economic subjects. Many may have been made as educational wall charts, including "Table No. 1 Universal Elements of the Planetary System," 1842; "A General View of the Animal Kingdom" by A. M. Redfield, 1857; and a "Chart of Organic Compounds," from 1866 and lithographed by Endicott & Company. Several charts track international price fluctuations in different commodity markets. These include "Fluctuations in Cold, Fair to Good Refining And White "A" Sugar From 1861 to 1868. . .," compiled by John C. Lloyd in 1868; "Table showing Fluctuations in Price of B.A. Hides and B.A. Middle Weights leather from 1854 to 1877 inclusive" by Geo. I. Plaisted, 1878; and "Table showing the Fluctuations of the [Price] of Buenos Ayres Hides and Buenos Ayres Middle Weights Hemlock sole leather from 1850 to 1861. . .," which was lithographed for a firm of hide brokers.

One chart, entitled "Al Fonetikon: A Perfect Alphabet of the English Language, Graphic and Typic…" (lithographed in Philadelphia in 1847) was designed by Andrew Comstock, a scholar of educational technique and author of multiple books about literacy and overcoming accents through proper speech mechanisms. Other charts include a "Diagram of the Federal Government, or the Great Republic of the United States of America" by N. Mendel Shafer, 1864; a blank "Family Register;" "A Historical, Chronological and Geneological Chart," lithographed by Henry Bostwick, 1827; and a medical chart, "Physiology & Laws of Life." The "Tableau Synoptique Du Regne Vegetal. . ." was drawn by M. Charles D'Orbigny in 1835, and is inscribed to the New-York Historical Society by the author.

Games in this series are mainly commercially printed children's board or table games. These types of games first appeared in the United States in 1823; the first example here is from 1844. These include an unassembled jigsaw puzzle: a map of the United States, in its original container. The playing boards of several games including Parcheesi , the "National Game of Tourist," a horseracing game, and "The Reward of Virtue" are included here; their playing pieces are not. Two printed transformation games are included.

Prints after William Sidney Mount include a total of 5 engravings. Mount (1807-1868) is considered America's first great genre painter, and his work was quite popular in the early and middle 19th century. Engravings after his paintings "Bargaining for a Horse," "The "Herald in the Country," "The Power of Music!," and "Coming to the Point" are included here.

Souvenir Roses are seven circular sheets of paper folded in a pie wedge shape, often with a blooming rose decoration, that unfold to reveal printed vignettes on each wedge of the circle. They were primarily published as souvenirs of travels. Three roses show scenes of New York. Two of these are titled "The Empire City Rose" [1863] and include portraits of Benjamin Franklin and Washington with scenes of NY buildings. Another similar rose has no title, but pictures of buildings as well as bird's eye views of Manhattan. One rose, "Vistos de Habana," shows Cuban landscapes and buildings. Three colored roses from 1864 show Civil War themes: "The Union Forts," "History of the Soldier Lad," and "The Soldier Boy." These items are extremely fragile and access to them is restricted.

Bank Note Engravings and Vignettes includes about 50 engravings. Most are printed by the firm of Rawdon, Wright, Hatch & Edson or by the Continental Bank Note Co. Bank notes are engraved on metal, using a copper or steel plate. Portraits were often used as images on bank notes because they were easily recognizable. Landscapes, popular vignettes, and genre scenes were also used in the 1860s. Included here is a small scrapbook album of bank note engravings as well as loose notes.

Learning Charts includes three learning charts, two of which are comprised of two plates each. These double charts, "The ABC Tree" and "The Multiplication Table Tree," are designed, drawn, and published by Mrs. A.E. Bland.

Two examples of the graphotype process, from Dewitt Clinton Hitchcock, inventor of the process, are included in the series. Graphotype is a form of engraving that embosses metal printing plates.

The eleven prints on tissue for transfer to plates were made by Charles Volkmar in 1895. They are of old New York scenes, and were printed on blue and white pottery. Included is a copy of the letter authorizing Volkmar to produce the plates for sale at Joseph P. McHugh & Co., a typescript describing the printing process by Leon Volkmar, son of the artist, and contemporary newspaper clippings about the scenes shown on the plates, and about ceramic items.

American Folk Art consists of miscellaneous printing examples, generally of animals, on different card stocks.

Needlework Patterns includes five examples of mass produced needlepoint and embroidery pattern sheets. One of these is a half-completed project.

Miscellaneous graphic arts includes random examples of commercial printing techniques, including engraving, steel engraving, wood engraving, lithography and chromolithography, and photomechanical prints. These folders include samples of wood engravings, plates from The Ariel , photogravures, and several examples of prints used as advertisements for products or companies. The group also contains prints after Winslow Homer and other popular scenes. Two prints offered to periodical subscribers are included; one was issued in 1860 to subscribers of  The Knickerbocker magazine, another from 1849 to the subscribers of the newspaper  The New York Albion. Two religious prints were printed in 1835 by John Baker and Alfred E. Baker, who formed Baker's Lithography at 8 Wall St. One remarkable print shows the words to the Lord's Prayer in 60 languages. Printed in July 1868 by Gabor Naphegyi of Staten Island, it is inscribed to the New-York Historical Society by the artist. One large color print issued by Meriden Gravure is an excellent example of high quality artistic commercial printing.

Materials are ordered based on chronology. Small materials are boxed, and larger materials are housed flat in horizontal map-case drawers and in oversize drawers.


General note

See: Folders 24-26 in Drawer

John Cox's Drawing Book
Box: 1 Lesson-Teaching Boards
Charts -- Natural History

General note

See: Folder 43 in Oversize Drawer

Box: 2-3 Folder : 1-2 Games

General note

See also: Folder 28 in Drawer 6

1844 and later
Prints after William Sidney Mount

General note

See: Folder 29 in Drawer 6

Box: 4 Folder : 3 Paper Roses

General note

This box is restricted


Bank Note Engravings and Vignettes, [1850-1875]

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Scrapbook Album of Engravings
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Rawdon, Wright, Hatch, & Edson
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Continental Bank Note Co. & National Bank Note Co.
Box: 5 Folder : 7-10 Unknown publishers, vignettes
Learning Charts
Box: 5 Folder : 11 Graphotype
Box: 5 Folder : 12-14 Prints on Tissue for Transfer to Plates
Box: 5 Folder : 15 Folk Art from Nadelman Collection
Needlework Patterns

General note

See: Folder 31 in Drawer 6

Miscellaneous prints

General note

See: Folders 32-36 in Drawer 7

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Series II. European Graphic Arts

Scope and Contents note

Pantins (French) are human torsos printed with separate limbs and heads. The pieces are meant to be cut out and then reattached with string to make a kind of puppet. "At first the pantins were designed for children's toys; but after a time they were used to amuse the entire public. All the parts of the body were separated and were attached by strings at the back of the figure. When the strings were pulled the arms, legs, and head were all joined together and the pantin could be made to dance." (from Singleton, Esther. Dolls . New York: Payson & Clarke, 1927.) Two sheets have couples, often caricatured, printed together, the others are generally prints of one woman or man. Some are handcolored. One has "1662" written in pencil along the bottom.

Folk Art is all from the Nadelman Collection, and is from multiple European countries. Most of the material is French, with some German, British, and unidentified works. Similar items have been grouped together if possible. Multiple French posters or broadsides show mythological scenes (for example, Pyramus and Thisbe) accompanied by a lengthy poem. Several sheets show scenes from the Fables of Lafontaine. Religious images abound. Two German certificates, one from 1765, may be birth certificates. A French game titled "La vie humaine" is printed on silk and seems to have been published in German, English as well as French [1775? Jane Carson, 1965]. A British advertisement for Rowland's Macassar Oil is included here. Some small broadsides or posters are printed on cardboard. Smaller material includes a group of chromolithographs of children printed in 1837 by von Arnz & Co. of Dusseldorf, Germany (in portfolio entitled "Bilderbuch"). Six panels of a myriorama (an infinitely rearrangeable landscape illustration) are printed on thick stock and can be moved around to change the scenery of the picture. Chromolithography scraps include attached sheets of butterflies and fishes, and scenes from fairy tales, such as Little Red Riding Hood and Cinderella. One folder of watercolored and collaged historical figures includes a likeness of Queen Victoria on horseback from 1840.

Toys and Games (British) are mainly games in which a paper playing board folds out from a cardstock book-like enclosure or case. Several of these games include the case as well as the rules of play. None include playing pieces. In most cases, the paper has been completely folded out and silked to keep it flat. Most of these games were produced by color lithography. A few are black and white. Board games include: "Wallis' Elegant and Instructive Game exhibiting the Wonders of Art, in Each Quarter of the World" (1823), "Spooner's Game of English History" (1847), "The New & Favorite Game of Mother Goose and the Golden Egg" (1808), "The Game of Human Life," "The Journey, or Cross Roads to Conqueror's Castle," "The New Game of Virtue Rewarded and Vice Punished for the Amusement of Youth of Both Sexes" (1818), and "The Royal Race Course: A Merry Round Game" (1852). A hand-colored rebus from 1794 is accompanied by a translation of the picture-puzzle. "Goode's American Nuts and Crackers," printed in London, is a poster offering riddles and jokes to the reader. William Spooner, the London publisher of several of these games, was known for his high quality toys & games.

Bird Prints (British) consists of four prints of birds made by Prideaux John Selby (1788-1867), often considered the British Audubon. The plates may be from the book Natural History of Pigeons . One is dated 1829. The plates are titled, "Common Shoveler, male and female," "Common Wild Duck," "Common heron," and "Common Cinerous Crane." All measure 27 by 21.5 inches.

Jigsaw Puzzles consist of three completed puzzles mounted on board from the Nadelman Folk Art Collection. Two are handcolored. Two puzzles are French, one shows the "Battle of Inkermann," the other shows the "Promenade de S.M. Le Roi de Rome," depicting Napoleon II. The third puzzle shows a walking couple; its country of origin is unidentified.

Military Costume Prints (French) are about 30 hand colored sheets showing the costumes of different French army regiments. Most are labeled as to the regiments' name and region.

Materials are ordered based on chronology when it could be determined. Small materials are boxed, and larger materials are housed flat in horizontal map-case drawers and in oversize drawers.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 16 Pantins (French)
Folk Art

General note

See also: Folders 37-38 in Drawer 7

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 17 Collaged figures
1840, undated
Box: 7 Folder : 18 Miscellaneous (general, unidentified)
Box: 7 Folder : 19 German miscellaneous
Box: 7 Folder : 20 French miscellaneous
Box: 7 Folder : 21 French—scenes of children playing
Box: 7 Folder : 22 Chromolithography scraps
Box: 7 Folder : 23 Panels from serial landscape
Toys and Games (British)

General note

See: Folder 39 in Drawer 8

Bird Prints (British)

General note

See: Folder 40 in Drawer 8

Jigsaw Puzzles (mounted on board)

General note

See: Folder 41 in Drawer 8

Military Costume Prints (French)

General note

See: Folder 42 in Drawer 8

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Oversize material from Series I. American Graphic Arts

Scope and Contents note

This material is housed flat in drawers 6 and 7 of Map Case Unit 24. Some material is restricted due to its condition.

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 24-26 Frakturs
1780 and later
Folder: 27 John Cox's Drawing Book
Charts—Natural History

General note

See: Folder 43 in Oversize drawer

Folder: 28 Games

General note

See also: Boxes 2 and 3

1844 and later
Folder: 29 Prints after William Sidney Mount
Folder: 30 Learning Charts
1855, undated
Folder: 31 Needlework Patterns
Folder: 32-26 Miscellaneous prints

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Oversize Material from Series II. European Graphic Arts

Scope and Contents note

Materials are housed flat in drawers 7 and 8 of Case 24.

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 37-38 Folk Art

General note

See also: Boxes 6 and 7

1791-1882, undated
Folder: 39 Toys and Games (British)
1794-1852, undated
Folder: 40 Bird Prints (British)
1829, undated
Folder: 41 Jigsaw Puzzles (mounted on board)
[1830], undated
Folder: 42 Military Costume Prints (French)

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Oversize Material from Series I

Scope and Contents note

Housed in Drawer 5 of Oversize map case unit F

Container 1     Title Date
Folder: 43 Charts--Natural History

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