This month marks the 50th anniversary of the massive strikes and demonstrations held in Paris and across France in May 1968. To this day, “May 68” is considered to be a cultural, social, and moral turning point in the history of France, and the events of that time had a resounding impact which was felt for decades afterwards.

Students in France were critical of the country’s outdated university system and dissatisfied with the lack of employment opportunities for recent graduates. Sporadic demonstrations for education reform began earlier in 1968, but on May 3rd a massive protest at the Sorbonne in Paris had to be broken up by the police, resulting in hundreds of arrests and dozens of injuries.

Following the protest, the Sorbonne was closed and classes cancelled, and students took to the streets surrounding the university (in Paris’s Latin Quarter) to continue their demonstrations. On May 6th, the Union National des Étudiants de France (UNEF) organized a march of more than 20,000 students, teachers, and their supporters. Protesters created barricades against the police charging with their batons, paving stones were hurled, and tear gas administered. According to estimates, over 500 protesters were arrested and 350 protesters and police injured.

On the night of May 10th, students set up barricades in the Latin Quarter and rioted, ending with close to 400 people in the hospital, more than half of which were police officers. Students called for radical changes to take place, and union leaders started planning strikes in support. In an attempt to defuse the crisis, Prime Minister Pompidou announced that the Sorbonne would reopen on May 13th.

Instead, on the 13th, students occupied the Sorbonne, turning it into a commune. Students and workers protested together in the streets, organized by the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) and the Fource Ouvriére (CGT-FO), with estimates counting over a million marchers that day. Over the next several days things escalated dramatically. Strikes spread to other universities in France as well as labor unions, and by the end of the month a massive widespread strike had extended to factories and industries across France, shutting down newspaper distribution, air transport, and two major railroads. Millions of workers were on strike, up to 22% of the population of France at the time, and the country seemed to be on the brink of revolution.

On the night of May 24th, the worst fighting occurred. Students temporarily seized the Paris Stock Exchange, raised a communist flag, and tried to set it on fire. One policeman died during the riots. Over the next few days, Prime Minister Pompidou attempted to negotiate with union leaders but failed to end the strike. The most radical students called for revolution with a meeting of the UNEF on May 27th which gathered 30,000 to 50,000 people at Stade Sebastien Charlety. They wanted the government overthrown, but their radical demands lost the support of the union leaders.

On May 30th, President de Gaulle announced that he was dissolving the National Assembly and would be holding elections. His appeal for a return to law and order gained the support of the middle class, and the labor strikes were abandoned. Student protests continued until June 12, when protests were banned. Two days later, the students were evicted from the Sorbonne. Elections were held over two rounds at the end of June, and the Gaullists won a commanding majority. Concessions were made to the protesters, including higher wages and improved working conditions for laborers, and an education reform bill was passed to help modernize the French university system.

F.A. Bernett currently has in its inventory two items dating from this period of upheaval and important change in Paris.

(Paris ’68)Collection of Leaflets Related to the 1968 Unrest in Paris. Group of approximately 200 original leaflets regarding the events of May 1968 in Paris, all originating from the “Press Office” located at the Sorbonne, dated from May and June 1968, most issued by the Comite d’Action Ouvriers Etudiants, primarily typed documents in French, some printed, including notices to their comrades and fellow students, memos, declarations, calls to action, notes on press conferences, and others, a few with cartoons or other drawings, some with ink or marker notations, overall excellent. Various sizes, mostly 4to. Sheets loose as issued, housed in an archival box. Paris 1968. (48892)

Action. Nos. 1 through 47 (7 May 1968- 3 June 1969) (all published). A complete run of 49 issues (including 2 unnumbered issues between nos. 38 and 39) of this panoramic documentation of the 1968 uprisings (issues ranging from 2 to 8 pp.), which covered events in the tumultuous year both in France and internationally with emphasis on happenings in Paris, including a wide range of articles, essays, reviews, etc., accompanied by a plethora of illustrations, including drawings, cartoons, caricatures, photographs, posters, etc. Nos. 4-20 and 23-41 large folio; nos. 1-3, 21-22, and 42-47 folio. Wrpps., all covers illustrated. Paris 1968-1969. (47080)

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The 1960s were a tumultuous time in history, both in the United States and around the world. The 1960s saw the Bay of Pigs, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., important strides in the Civil Rights Movement including the Greensboro sit-in and the Selma-to-Montgomery march, student protests and demonstrations, second-wave feminism, and the Vietnam War.

The Black Panther Party (originally called the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) came into existence during those years of political protest and change, being founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton on October 15, 1966. The left-wing organization’s goals were the right to self-defense, better housing, jobs, and education for African Americans in the United States. They were greatly influenced by Malcolm X, and believed that violence or the threat of violence might be needed to help bring about change. Later they added a focus on community social programs including feeding impoverished children and opening community health clinics. However, their earliest activity was often tied up in violence.

Their core practice at the time was armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the activity and behavior of the Oakland Police Department and challenge police brutality. Party members would listen to police calls on a short-wave radio, rush to the scene of the arrest with law books in hand, and inform the person being arrested of their constitutional rights. They carried loaded weapons during these patrols which they displayed publicly, but were careful to not interfere with any arrests.

In 1967, the California legislature passed the Mulford Act, named for one of its authors Don Mulford, which repealed a law allowing the carrying in public of loaded firearms. The bill was written as a response to the Panthers’ armed patrols, which were later called “copwatching”. The media even dubbed it “the Panther Bill”. As a response, on May 2, 1967, the Panthers marched, bearing arms, upon the State Capitol to protest the bill. They carried loaded rifles and shotguns and entered the Capitol to read aloud Executive Mandate Number 1, which was in opposition to the Mulford Act. They tried to enter the Assembly Chamber but were forced out, and so read the mandate out on the lawn. The legislature’s response was to pass the bill, and the protest and media coverage helped catapult the Black Panther Party into the national spotlight and led to a huge growth in membership numbers. F.A. Bernett currently has in its inventory a group of original press photographs taken during this 1967 protest.

Group of Black Panther Press Photographs. Eleven original press photographs documenting the 1967 Sacramento Black Panther Party armed protest against the Mulford Act and the ensuing court case, taken by Walter Zeboski, a former Associated Press photographer, with photographs showing members of the Black Panther Party on the steps of the California State Capitol, protesting inside the Capitol with guns raised, and on trial for felony charges stemming from the armed protest, six with original typed captions, one with hand-written notation to margin. Most sheets 8-1/8 x 11-3/4 in. Original loose photographs, housed in contemporary sheet protectors, some accompanied by original film negatives. N.p. (Sacramento, California) 1967.

Some of the figures identified in the photographs are Assemblyman Don Mulford, who sponsored the bill; Assemblyman Willie L. Brown, Jr.; Beverly Axelrod, a Sacramento attorney representing the Panthers; and Mark Comfort, Huey Newton, and Bobby Seale, Black Panther Party members on trial. (48837)

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The Crimean War broke out on October 16, 1853 and lasted until early 1856, and was fought initially over the rights of Christian minorities in the Holy Land, which was under the domain of the Ottoman Empire. On one side was the Ottoman Empire allied with Britain, Sardinia, and France, who favored the rights of Roman Catholics. On the other (losing) side was Russia, which favored the Eastern Orthodox Church. While the churches worked out their differences and came to a mutually satisfying agreement, Nicholas I of Russia and Emperor Napoleon III of France both refused to budge. Nicholas issued an ultimatum that the Orthodox subjects of the Empire be placed under his protection. Britain attempted to mediate and managed to arrange a compromise that Nicholas agreed to. However, when the Empire demanded additional changes, Nicholas refused and prepared for war. With the support of France and Britain, the Ottomans declared war on Russia in October 1853.

The war began in the Balkans but battles were carried out at the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, the Caucasus, the White Sea, and in the North Pacific. Eventually neutral countries began to join the alliance. Isolated and facing invasion from the west if the war went on, Russia sued for peace in March 1856. The war ended with the Treaty of Paris, signed on March 30. As a result, the Black Sea became neutral territory with warships and fortifications completely prohibited, which was a major setback to Russian influence in the region. The Ottoman vassal states of Wallachia and Moldavia became largely independent with Christians granted official equality, and the Orthodox Church regained control of the Christian churches in dispute.

The Battle of Kil-Bouroun (Kinburn) was one of many battles fought during the three years of the Crimean War.  Staged at the tip of the peninsula of Kinburn on the south bank of the Dnieper River near the Crimea, it was the site of an attack by the French and British navies on the Russian outpost there during the final phase of the war. On October 17, 1855, France and Britain attacked the outpost with a fleet of ironclad ships, destroying the fortifications within mere hours and suffering almost no damage. This decisive battle helped to signify the decline of the traditional wooden warship.

F.A. Bernett Books currently has in its inventory a scarce and fascinating portfolio of lithographs commemorating this wintry naval battle, with large and detailed depictions of the ships and the ruined fortifications.

Paris, (François-Edmond). Nos Souvenirs de Kil-Bouroun Pendant l’Hiver Passé Dans le Liman du Dnieper, 1855-1856. A beautiful and rare album comprising title page, a map showing the location of the naval battle of Kil-Bouroun (Kinburn), and 15 chromolithographic plates depicting mostly maritime scenes after the battle along the ice-bound Dnieper River, including inside the fort, disembarking onto the ice, and ruined fortifications, lithographed and colored by Eugene Ciceri and Adolphe Bayot, the ships drawn by Antoine Léon Morel-Fatio, after drawings by Paris. Some details appear to be hand-colored. Some scattered foxing, small stain to inside front cover, a few small tears along binding, spine very slightly shaken. Folio. Full leather, raised spine. Paris (Arthus-Bertrand/Becquet Freres) n.d. (circa 1856). Very scarce; as of October 2017, WorldCat locates only two holdings in North America of this suite. 48752

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Divination and Cartomancy: An Impressive Collection of Tarot Cards

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The history of tarot is long, and probably surprising to some. The earliest known surviving full deck dates to the early 15th century in Italy. Painted by Bonifacio Bembo for the Duke of Milan, it is known as the Visconti-Sforza deck, after the Duke’s family name. In Renaissance Europe, these decks of cards, then known […]

Historical and Documentary Photography in 19th and Early 20th Century America

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The late 19th and early 20th centuries were periods of major change and important historical events throughout the United States, as well as key developments in photography technology. Life could be documented in a way that was never possible before, both physically and economically. Photography allowed for more precise archiving than either lithography or engraving. […]

Breaking Gender Barriers: Women and the WPA Milwaukee Handicraft Project

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The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was the largest and most ambitious agency created by the United States government as part of the New Deal, established under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to help combat the Great Depression, focusing on the “3 Rs” of Relief, Recovery, and Reform: relief for the poor and unemployed, recovery of the […]

Printer’s Archive for the Official Program of the Democratic National Convention of 1936.

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A complete archive of the original artwork, photographs, advertisements, and fully edited and corrected typewritten essays which comprise the official guide to the 1936 Democratic National Convention, held in Philadelphia: including 41 original pen and ink drawings by Lyle Justis used as vignettes and illustrations throughout the text; over 200 original photographs, most with identification […]

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Cuba, OSPAAAL (Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa, and Latin America), 1971 and 1972  Extensive and Culturally Significant Archive of Approximately 500 Political Posters. An important, unique, and carefully curated collection of political posters, dated from approximately the 1960s to the 2000s, from a wide variety of leftist and militant groups in […]

Le Bal des Quat’z’ Arts: Revelry and Debauchery in Turn of the Century Paris

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“It is a riot, a revival of paganism…It is also, in its way, a hymn to beauty, a living explosion of the senses and of the emotions.” – E. Berry Wall, Neither Past Nor Puritan In 1892, Henri Guillaume, Professor of Architecture at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, proposed that the students […]

The École de Montmartre in 1920’s Paris

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              Paris in the late 19th and early 20th century, especially during the periods known as the Belle Époque and les Années Folles, was a hotbed of intellectual and artistic life. During the former, Montmartre was abuzz with cafés, cabarets, and artists’ studios, with a large number of painters […]

Charlie Hebdo’s Ancestors

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  Journalism in France has a rich tradition of political satire and caricature, dating back many hundreds of years and gaining footholds at many crucial moments in France’s history. Popular in the 17th century, Molière and Jean de la Fontaine earned their fame mocking the upper echelons of society through comic plays or fables, often […]

Anni di piombo. The Lead Years, 1968-1982.

Thumbnail image for Anni di piombo. The Lead Years, 1968-1982. August 11, 2014

“Anni di piombo” (“The Lead Years”) has little nostalgic resonance in the US. Unlike “Mai ‘68”, which instantly evokes exhilarating scenes of French student occupations, demonstrations, police brutality, wildcat strikes, riots, and barricades. (And perhaps some fervent threesomes if you made it through Bertolucci’s The Dreamers.) While Mai ‘68 appears retrospectively as both the unfulfilled […]

Under the Matzos Tree.

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52 Examples of Jewish-American Sheet Music from the Early 20th Century. A collection of English-language sheet music, ca. 4-8 pp. each, in orig. color illus. wrrps., most published in New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, or Los Angeles, ca. 1900-1920. (47699) “Under the Matzo Tree: A Ghetto Love Song,” “Yiddle on your Fiddle Play Some Rag […]

Contest of Realism. Novyi Lef.

Thumbnail image for Contest of Realism. Novyi Lef. March 11, 2014

Novyi Lef. Zhurnal Levogo Fronta Iskusstv. Year 1, No. 1 (January 1927) through Year 2, No. 12 (December 1928) (all published). 24 issues, published in 22 vols. as issued, comprising a complete first edition of the Soviet avant-garde monthly designed by Alexandr Rodchenko under the editorial direction of Vladimir Mayakovsky, followed by Sergei Tret’iakov, each […]

This Invitation Cannot Be Sold or Transferred.

Thumbnail image for This Invitation Cannot Be Sold or Transferred. January 21, 2014

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Soucoupes Volantes Viennent d’Autres Mondes.

Thumbnail image for Soucoupes Volantes Viennent d’Autres Mondes. August 15, 2013

Collection of 20 titles, ca. 50-300 pp. each. Paris / Geneva / Moscow, 1897-1973, offered with Inforespace. Cosmologie Phénomènes Spatiaux Primhistoire. Revue Bimestrielle. Nos. 1 (1972) – 67, 69 – 71, 73 & 75, incl. the “hors serie” December annuals nos. 1 (1977) – 8 (1984). Altogether 80 issues comprising a 17-year head-of-series run of […]

“The Bankers Shall not Make the Peace” Labor Day Sketch Book 1947

Thumbnail image for “The Bankers Shall not Make the Peace”  <i>Labor Day Sketch Book 1947</i> June 10, 2013

Sally, Ted (drawings). Labor Day Sketch Book 1947. Los Angeles CIO Council. Unpaginated (ca. 32 pp.) presentation of proposed designs, drawn by Sally, for floats, banners, costumes, and other accoutrements for a union-oriented progressive Labor Day parade. Oblong large 4to. Orig. printed wrpps. Los Angeles (CIO Council) 1947. (47538) In the spring of 1947, The […]

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Thumbnail image for Weltkrieg: German Artists Respond to the Great War. February 15, 2013

Collection of 14 World War I Print Portfolios by German Artists.  Including works by René Beeh, Emma Frenberg, Karl Bober, Bruno Kraustopf, Ursla Stolte, Paul Hartmann, Elsa Weigandt, Erich Dietrich, Hilde Schindler, Georg Mathen, Editha Quaas, Joshua Bampp, Paul Winkler, Josef Eberz, Fritz Gärtner, Erich Gruner, Willi Geiger, Carl Christoph Hartig, Luigi Kasimir, Hermann Struck, […]

Boston Punk from the Female Fan’s Perspective: Loretta Baretta and Carmen Monoxide’s Miscarriage Magazine, 1977-1978.

Thumbnail image for Boston Punk from the Female Fan’s Perspective: Loretta Baretta and Carmen Monoxide’s <i>Miscarriage</i> Magazine, 1977-1978. November 14, 2012

Miscarriage. The Abortive Attempt.  Nos. 13 (1977) – 14; 16 – 19; 20; 22 – 30; 30 (bis) – 36 (March 1978) (dated per the postal cancellation). [Title and subtitle vary.] Collection of 23 weekly issues (ca. 2-6 leaves each). Boston / Jamaica Plain, MA (10 Priesing Street) 1977-1978. (47328) Like most cities in the […]

Dreaming in Dirigibles: The Airship Postcard Albums of Lord Ventry.

Thumbnail image for Dreaming in Dirigibles: The Airship Postcard Albums of Lord Ventry. July 26, 2012

Collection of 548 postcard prints and original photographs depicting airships, dirigibles and zeppelins, ca. 1890 to 1960. Most images 3 x 5 in. or 4 x 6 in., housed in period 4to and tall 4to boards albums, one with spine partially detached.  N.p (United Kingdom?), N.d. (ca. 1890 to 1960).  (47267) The golden age of […]