For over a year now, we’ve been offering a regular series of portraits of members of the book trade. Today’s post is a little different, because now we’re giving you access to hundreds of images of printers, booksellers, bookbinders, etc. through a new online resource: The Updike Collection Book Trade Portraits Database (beta).
This collection of over 500 portraits (of more than 250 members of the book trade) resides in four large binders in our Daniel Berkeley Updike Collection, and now it resides digitally online at http://www.pplspc.org/portraits . You can search and browse in a number of different ways, or just pick a random portrait and see who turns up. And you can get a printed broadside depicting some of the all-stars of the book world to hang on your wall if you so choose.
One important note: This is very much a work in progress, so there’s still a lot of proofreading and tweaking to do. Please send suggestions, or a note about the errors you’re inevitably going to come across to email@example.com.
Thanks to Rick Ring, Janaya Kizzie, Robin Camille Davis and Zachary Lewis, who began work on the project a long while back.
Since the weekly portrait series has been quiet recently, we’re offering two portraits today, both nautically themed.
1: “Lord Bateman”
This drawing appears in the logbook of the whaling ship Martha, during an 1838-41 voyage.
2: The mailman
Alright, maybe not the actual mailman. But this letter-deliverer was intended to proudly decorate the bow of a 19th-century ship. The image comes from an amazing item in our Brownell Collection, the pattern book of a figurehead carver named R. Lee. You can read more about Lee in volume 2, issue 3 of Occasional Nuggets, but if you’d like to view the pattern book in it’s entirety, it’s now available online.
There are good-engraving days…
And then there are the bad-engraving days…
The subject of the portraits, John Boydell, was himself a major figure in the history of English engraved prints.
This is a very strange portrait. It depicts two individuals (off-center and not filling the frame): Abel Roper (who published a newspaper called the Post Boy starting in 1695) and his nephew and assistant Edward King. Roper’s publications tended to make people angry (apparently angry enough to pull off his wig and beat him).
The curious emblem at the bottom of the print depicts a pillory and what appears to be another form of punishment device (leave a note in the comments if you know its proper name) with pages nailed to the bars. And the motto (“Nec lex est justior ulla”) is an abbreviated and modified form of a passage by Ovid that translates as “There is no law more just than that the plotters of death should perish by their own designs.” Often connected in biblical commentaries with Haman’s execution on the gallows he had originally built for his enemies, the lines point to the irony of being destroyed by your own schemes. Used here, beneath the portrait of a man well-known for using print as a political weapon, is it an indication that this was a hostile depiction?
Demonstrating the magic of the soft focus photograph.
From the cover of Genii magazine, August 1940:
Cue the pipe organ.
The brothers Georg and Johann were engravers working in London in the late 18th and early 19 centuries. A little research could probably determine which of the two is depicted here, so if you have any guesses, please leave them in the comments.
Update: In an email, an artist and printer has pointed out that this may be a proof print from a not-yet-completed plate, explaining the appearance of the subject’s face.
When you’re always wearing a bib, you’re always ready for BBQ.
How many puns (written and pictorial) on his name can you find in the poem and engraving?