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Melissa McCaffrey

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 as trionfi, tarocchi, and tarock, were used to play games such as tarocchini in Italy and jeu de tarot in France, trick-taking card games in the same vein as Whist or bridge. In Italy, the aristocracy would also engage in a whimsical game known as “tarocchi appropriati”, in which players were dealt cards from the deck and used the imagery and themes to compose poetry. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the cards began to be used as we think of them today, for divination and cartomancy.

A tarot deck is comprised of 78 cards total. Similar to standard playing cards, there is a set of four suits which vary by region, but often are represented by wands/batons, cups, coins/pentacles, and swords. Each suit is comprised of 14 cards, ten cards numbered one or ace to ten, and four face cards: King, Queen, Knight, and Jack or Knave. These 56 cards are known as the minor arcana. The other 22 cards are known as the major arcana and consist of a group of 21 Trump cards and a single card known as the Fool. Although there are wide varieties in tarot decks, stylistically and regionally, some of the more archetypal arcana cards include the Tower, the Devil, the Magician, Death, the Wheel of Fortune, the Chariot, Justice/Judgment, the Lovers, the Moon, the Sun, and the World. Some tarot decks contain only these 22 major arcana cards, eliminating the four suits.

F.A. Bernett Books currently has in its inventory a collection of over 200 assorted tarot decks, comprising an impressive overview of the history and study of tarot. Most of the decks date to the second half of the 20th century and are primarily European in origin. This collection includes reproductions of important historical decks, decks showcasing the work of modern artists and more whimsical decks centered around fantastical themes. Highlighted below are several of the numerous interesting and eye-catching decks from this collection.

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reproduction of the Tarocco di Marsiglia (Svizzera 1804). No. 555 of a limited edition of 2000. Milan (Edizioni Il Meneghello/Cavallini & Co.) n.d.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il Tarocco di Amerigo Folchi. Artwork by Amerigo Folchi. No. 2528 of a limited edition of 3000. Bologna (Italcards) 1991.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Le Tarot de la Réa. Artwork by Alain Bocher. St-Brieuc, Franc (Les Presses Bretonnes) 1982.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tarocco Fantastico. Artwork by Franco Bruna. No. 160 of a limited edition of 1200, with signed and hand-numbered title card. Turin (Viassone) 1982.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zigeuner Tarot. Artwork by Walter Wegmüller. Basel (Sphinx Verlag/AGMüller) 1982.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Tarot Belline. No. 4366. Paris (J.M. Simon/Grimaud) 1966.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

XXII Arcani – I Tarocchi di Andrea Picini. Artwork by Andrea Picini. No. 123 of a limited edition of 1000, with signed and hand-numbered title card. N.p. (Edizioni Luca) 1977.

 

 

Extensive Collection of Tarot Cards. A large collection of over 200 decks of tarot cards, most dating to the second half of the 20th century with a few earlier and later outlying examples, from publishers in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States, including reproductions of antique tarot decks, modern decks showcasing the work of particular artists, and decks providing a more whimsical approach to the arcana. Some decks unopened, a few decks incomplete, the rest all in excellent condition, with little to no signs of wear. Various sizes. Various cities. 1930s-2000s. Together with an assortment of over 100 catalogues and books related to the tarot, some pertaining to specific decks. (48661)

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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. Roger Fenton and Philip Henry Delamotte were among the first photographers to demonstrate the immense potential photography carried for chronicling important events with their images of the Crimean War and the construction of the Crystal Palace in London for the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Daguerreotypes were introduced in 1839 as the first complete practical photographic process, and remained the most common commercial process until the late 1850s, when the collodion process took over in popularity. This new process produced glass negatives which could be replicated multiple times, unlike the daguerreotype which resulted in a single, unique image. It was also relatively inexpensive compared to daguerreotypes, as the daguerreotype process required expensive polishing equipment and costly silver-plated copper for producing the images. Often printed on albumen paper, the collodion print took two forms, wet and dry, the former which necessitated a darkroom and was more popular with portrait photographers, the latter which required much longer exposure time and therefore was more often limited to landscape photography. Ambrotypes and tintypes are examples of photographs produced via the collodion process.

During the 1880s, gelatin dry plates largely replaced the collodion process. Utilizing glass plates with a dry emulsion of silver suspended in gelatin was more convenient and could also make more sensitive images. The first dry plate factory, the Eastman Film and Dry Plate Company, was established in 1879, a reflection of the popularity of the process. In 1884 Eastman developed dry gel on paper, or film, replacing the photographic plate and with it the necessity of carting around boxes of glass plates and chemicals. And in July 1888 Eastman’s first Kodak camera was put on the market, allowing anyone to take a photograph and let someone else do the processing. Photography went even more mass-market in 1901 with the introduction of the Kodak Brownie camera.

F.A. Bernett currently has for sale several collections of interesting and important early American photography which correspond to and reflect these important changes and developments in the photographic process and the increasing commercial availability of photography equipment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collection of 19 Vintage Cabinet Card Views of the 1889 Johnstown Flood. Group of 19 cabinet cards by a local photographer, R.Y. Nice of Williamsport, Pennsylvania, depicting the aftermath of the famous flood and subsequent damage in the town of Williamsport, including Nice’s studio and other local commercial buildings partially underwater, townspeople navigating the streets in rowboats, birds-eye views, and scenes of destruction and debris, some with captions incised into the negatives. Cabinet cards with mounted albumen prints measuring 4″ x 6 1/4″, numbered 2 through 20 in the lower left corners, some with Nice’s name printed on the mount. Williamsport, Pennsylvania 1889.

The Johnstown Flood was the worst flood to hit the United States in the 19th century, causing the deaths of 2,209 people and the destruction of 1,600 homes. It was the largest loss of civilian life the United States had seen up to that point. The flood was one of the first major disaster relief efforts to be handled by the newly-founded American Red Cross, under the leadership of Clara Barton. (48214)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mather’s Historical Oil Region Views of Western Pennsylvania. Part I. Mather’s Historical Photographs. Mather, John A. 14 leaves, 2 pages of text, 1 engraving, and 11 original gelatin linen-backed photographs regarding the drilling of the Drake Well by Col. Edwin L. Drake in 1859, the first oil well ever drilled in the United States, scenes and figures depicted in the photographs include a portrait of Edwin Drake, Drake at the well, oil traders, and the surrounding areas of “Oil Creek” including Foster Farm, Funkville, John Wait Farm, and John Benninghoff Run. Spine slightly shaken. Oblong 4to. Black cloth boards. Titusville, Pennsylvania (John A. Mather) 1895. Ink inscription on front endpaper “Miss Margaret Bond from Mrs E. Mather, Christmas 1905”

Edwin Drake was hired by the Seneca Oil Company in 1858 to investigate suspected oil deposits in the Titusville region of Pennsylvania. Prior to this, petroleum oil was known of, but there was not yet a market for it. Drake began drilling, with pipe and steam, but progress was slow and the Seneca Oil Company had pulled their backing. Using his own money and that of friends, Drake persevered and on the morning of August 28th, after months of drilling at the rate of approximately three feet per day, Drake’s driller looked into the hole and saw crude oil. The Drake Well prompted the first big investments in the petroleum industry and additional drilling in the area that became known as Oil Creek, ushering in the Pennsylvania oil rush.

John A. Mather was the pioneer photographer of Pennsylvania’s Oil Region. Hearing of the exploding activity in the Oil Creek Valley, Mather and his wife moved to Titusville in 1860 where he began working with a series of makeshift traveling darkrooms/studios. He transported his equipment through the oil fields by ox-pulled wagon or flatboat, and sold his photographs to a local audience. During his years photographing the Pennsylvania oil rush, he amassed a collection of over 20,000 glass plate negatives. However, due to damage from floods and fires, only 5,000 have survived to this day, preserved in the collections of the Drake Well Museum. Scarce; as of February 2017, WorldCat locates only three holdings in North America. (48619)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photograph Album Documenting the Aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Collection of approximately 99 original black-and-white photographs showing the destruction caused by the earthquake and resulting fires, and the subsequent clean-up and reconstruction efforts, most pages with hand-written captions, with specific sites depicted including the Ferry Building, Market Street, burning buildings, refugee camps, City Hall, the Hearst Building, the Palace Hotel, gutted churches, rubble, and relocated shops, some photos with signature for R.J. Waters & Co. and caption within the plate, label affixed to inside front cover for Waters Company, San Francisco. Photos overall in very good condition. Various sizes to 8″ x 10″. Photos affixed to album leaves with photo corners and small dots of glue, many photos already loose, all pages detached from album. Oblong 4to. Cloth album. San Francisco (R.J. Waters & Co.) circa 1906.

The 1906 earthquake struck the coast of Northern California at 5:12 am on April 18th, with a magnitude of 7.8. Over 80% of the city of San Francisco was destroyed as a result of the quake and the subsequent fires, with 30 different fires destroying 25,000 buildings across 490 city blocks within three days. An estimated 3,000 people died. Initially only 375 deaths were reported, due in part to hundreds of ignored and unreported fatalities in Chinatown. To this day, it is still the deadliest natural disaster in California’s history. Up to 300,000 people were also left homeless out of a total population of 410,000, with some refugee camps remaining open for over two years. (48636)

  

 

 

 

 

 

Collection of Original Photographs of Alaska. Album comprising approximately 500 original photographs of various formats, the majority taken in and around the copper mining town of Kennecott, Alaska, during its heyday in the 1920s, including the Bonanza, Jumbo, and Erie mines, nearby towns such as Cordova, McCarthy, and Ruby, hunting and skiing trips, dogsledding, Eskimos, railroads, the Childs, Columbia, and Kennicott glaciers, and steamships, with 21 most likely unpublished photographs captioned “Mt Logan Alaska 1925 – June / Guided by Andy Taylor, Famous Alaskan Guide” being of particular interest, depicting the first successful expedition to the summit of Mt. Logan in the Yukon Territory, Canada’s highest peak, with photographs showing the team setting up camp, loading their sleds, and trekking, together with several pieces of ephemera including a telegram, a Pacific Line steamship catalog, and a newspaper clipping. Original album disbound and trimmed to fit, with original album pages and hand-written captions intact, some original photo corners replaced. Small folio. Housed in two contemporary albums. N.p. (Kennecott, Alaska), circa 1920s.

A geologist first approached the Alpine Club of Canada in 1922 with the idea of sending a team to summit Mt. Logan. A team of Canadian, British, and American climbers was assembled, and their trip was delayed from 1924 to 1925 due to delays in funding and preparation. They began their trip in early May, journeying from the Pacific coast by train, and then traversed the remaining 120 miles on foot to the Logan Glacier, where they established base camp. On June 23, 1925, the team of Albert H. MacCarthy, H.F. Lambart, Allen Carpé, W.W. Foster, Norman H. Read, and Andy Taylor became the first people to stand atop the summit of Mt. Logan.

The Kennecott Mines were discovered around the turn of the century, and confirmed as the richest known concentration of copper in the world at the time in 1901. Five different mines turned out incredible amounts of copper, at their peak generating $32.4 million worth of ore in a single year. The highest grades of ore were largely depleted by the early 1930s, with the mines closing gradually. The last train left Kennecott on November 10, 1938, leaving it a ghost town. In the 1980’s, the town became a tourist destination, and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.  (48621)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Picture Journey to Farms in Idaho, Washington, Oregon. Spokane, Washington.- Pacific Northwest Farm Trio. 62 pp. promotional photo album containing 72 mounted silver gelatin photographs of farms, orchards, crops, and related agricultural activities from farms throughout the Pacific Northwest, each page with a typed descriptive caption below the photo, some of the photographs signed within the negative, known photographers include Asahel Curtis, Bradbury Williams, and Arthur Prentiss. One of the photographs coming loose, several pages with small tears to margins, some minor warping and toning of pages. Oblong 8vo. Leather. Some bowing to covers, rubbing and small losses along extremities, small splits at spine. Spokane, Washington (Pacific Northwest Farm Trio General Offices) n.d. (circa 1930).

The Pacific Northwest Farm Trio comprised the publications The Washington Farmer, The Idaho Farmer, and The Oregon Farmer. The views depicted in this album include apple farms in Washington, the Hood River Valley, the Willamette Valley, the Yakima Valley, tractors and farm machinery, harvesting and packing apples, planting wheat, cows on a dairy farm, sheep, chickens, turkeys, Arrowrock Dam, irrigation, vegetables, strawberry plants, and orchards. Very scarce; as of March 2017, this title is not listed through WorldCat. (48654)

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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 economy, and reform of the financial systems already in place to help prevent another depression. In total, over 100 offices were created – some established by Congress, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, and some through Roosevelt’s presidential executive orders, including the WPA.

The goal of the WPA, headed by Roosevelt’s close friend Harry Hopkins, was to create jobs for millions of Americans who were eligible for employment. The WPA operated in conjunction with state and local governments, which helped cover a percentage of the costs and provided supplies, while the WPA was responsible for the majority of costs and for the workers’ wages.  

Between 1935 and 1943, the WPA employed more than 8.5 million workers to carry out public works projects including the construction of hundreds of thousands of miles of highways and roads, bridges, reservoirs, irrigation systems, parks, playgrounds, and over 125,000 public buildings including hospitals and schools. Notable projects built under the WPA include the Lincoln Tunnel, LaGuardia Airport, and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. A smaller division of the WPA, called Federal Project Number One, employed musicians, artists, writers, actors, and directors for arts, drama, and media projects.The WPA program was ended on June 30, 1943, due to low employment because of the worker shortage caused by World War II.

During the Great Depression, unemployment in the city of Milwaukee was at roughly 40 percent, and in 1933 an astonishing 53 percent of property taxes went unpaid because people couldn’t afford to make their payments. The WPA launched the Milwaukee Handicraft Project in 1935, under the direction of Elsa Ulbrecht, the Fine Arts Director of Milwaukee State Teachers College, with the goal of creating by hand high quality educational materials for schools that taught arts and crafts. The project hired roughly 5,000 workers and taught them to make a variety of wood and cloth items including dolls, toys, furniture, rugs, curtains, book-bindings, quilts, textile prints, and costumes. The women were assigned to specific production units, each led by an experienced artist or designer. The items were then sold at cost to educational and tax-supported institutions, including the Milwaukee Public Schools, libraries, and local hospitals.

The Milwaukee Handicraft Project was one of the most successful and innovative of the WPA’s various programs. The vast majority of workers hired by the WPA for its public relief projects were white men, but the Milwaukee Handicraft Project attempted to balance this disparity. Most of the workers hired for this program were uneducated and unskilled women of all ages and nationalities, many of whom had never held a job. A large number did not even speak English. Only certain jobs were considered appropriate for women at the time, and so Harriet Pettibone Clinton, the District Director of the Women’s Division of the Wisconsin WPA, deliberately chose to create a project in which the vast numbers of unemployed women could freely participate.

The WPA also sent a group of 300 African-American workers to participate in the project, intending them to have a segregated workspace. However, the program directors were opposed to this idea and insisted that the women and minorities work side-by-side. The integrated workforce made the Milwaukee Handicraft Project unique in its progressive and forward-thinking mindset.

One of the production units was the blockprinting unit, which grew out of the bookbinding unit when the lead designers decided to create decorative book covers using linoleum block prints. They created patterns which the workers then transferred to linoleum blocks and cut away to create stamps. These blocks were then inked and stamped onto paper and fabric. They were designed to be labor-intensive, so as to help guarantee the women with many hours of paid work. F.A. Bernett currently has in its inventory a suite of six portfolios displaying samples of the various handmade blockprinted textiles created in the workshops of the Milwaukee Handicraft Project.

Applied Design: Blockprinted Textiles. An Educational Service Prepared by the Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project. Milwaukee.- Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project. 6 vols: I. Surface Patterns; II. Surface Patterns; III. Motifs; IV. Border Designs; V. Motifs; VI. Supplement, comprising a suite of portfolios containing 72 total examples of matted blockprinted textiles in a wide variety of patterns and styles, including figures, animals, birds, botanical, and geometric designs, the back of each matte stamped “WPA Handicraft Project #7040, Milwaukee Wisconsin, Sponsored by Milwaukee County and Milwaukee State Teachers College”, the inside front cover of portfolios 1-4 and 6 labeled “This portfolio was made by the Milwaukee Handicraft Project, Sponsored by Milwaukee County and Milwaukee State Teachers College, Wisconsin WPA”, portfolio five stamped “WPA Handicraft Project #8601, Milwaukee Wisconsin, Sponsored by Milwaukee County and Milwaukee State Teachers College”. Portfolios 1-3 folio, 4-6 elephant folio. Green cloth-covered boards portfolios, contents loose as issued. Milwaukee (Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project) n.d. (circa 1935). Ex-library copy with bookplates, labels to covers, rubber ink stamps to portfolios and mattes, and pencil acquisition notations to mattes. (48655)

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

June 30, 2016

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 […]

A Collection of Leftist Political Posters, 1960-2010

April 15, 2016

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

September 8, 2015

“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

August 17, 2015

              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

January 23, 2015

  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 […]