Blue Skies to Red Seas


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

[Ed. note: Today’s post is by Penn Libraries intern Akasya Benge. Many thanks to Akasya for her painstaking work in inventorying recently acquired Japanese Naval Collection magazines (Kaigun, Kaigun Gurafu, Umi to Sora, and Teikoku Kaigun) and reflecting on what she found within. Come check the magazines out for yourself in Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center!]

I came to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries as an intern with already specialized interests. I studied abroad in Japan in high school, college, and post-graduate, and obtained my master’s degree in art history with a focus on premodern Japanese art. However, the project I ended up focusing on at the Penn Libraries was to inventory a sizable collection of 1930s and 1940s Japanese naval magazines. These magazines provide a look into propaganda both prewar and while at war, allowing readers to explore a subject little known or researched in the West – the presentation of upcoming war to the Japanese public.

Sora to Umi, October 1935

Cover of Umi to Sora, October 1935

It seems an odd choice for any university outside Japan, but the University of Pennsylvania Libraries has one of the largest collections of pre-WWII Japanese naval material in the United States, primarily dating from the 1920s-1940s. Indeed, it is the rarity of these materials that makes them so fascinating. While the United States understands its own narrative and choices leading up to and the conclusion of World War II, less is known in the Western world about how the Japanese people felt during those same troubled times, especially because of their own efforts to whitewash their imperial past after the war.

The focus of this post is the Japanese naval and aviation magazines held by the Penn Libraries, readily available publications to the Japanese reading public of the time. They have such names as Umi to Sora 海と空, a title that translates to “Sea and Sky,” and expresses an equally evocative image in Japanese as it does in English. The early 1930s publications of this magazine are scattered with meticulous diagrams of airplanes, as well as peaceful hovering planes gently soaring above the sea.

Sora to Umi, February 1935

Cover of Umi to Sora, February 1935

Beautifully detailed drawings of ships – which seem more suited to a children’s book than a military magazine – are also contained in these issues. A sense of hope pervades the pictures, the feeling that much had been accomplished and so much more awaited. Foreign militaries are approached with a feeling of inquisitiveness and interest, rather than malice and fear. This would quickly change with the 1940s, where Americans became distant and unapproachable, and the Germans, interestingly carefree and friendly. There is even a photograph of Hitler printed in the magazine Kaigun Gurafu 海軍グラフ in 1938, both commanding and terrifying; this image provides a stark contrast to the photograph published four years earlier of the Shōwa Emperor (known as Hirohito outside Japan) looking gentle and shy.


Adolf Hilter in Kaigun Gurafu, August 1938


The Shōwa Emperor in Kaigun Gurafu, July 1934

Other changes that occur over time in Sora to Umi include minute details such as the use of Japanese years rather than the Western calendar, in Chinese numerals: for example, Shōwa 17 昭和十七 as opposed to 1942. Something so barely perceptible may not seem of interest, but as linguists know, a strict demand to use only Japanese words and eliminate all traces of foreign influence marks a time of nationalism, and possibly gave fuel to the upcoming war.

Kaigun Gurafu, October 1935

Cover of Kaigun Gurafu, October 1935

In Kaigun Gurafu 海軍グラフ (Navy Illustrated), meanwhile, in the middle of 1938 we can observe another subtle change. From the glossy, graphic-design heavy magazines produced earlier, we temporarily receive something reminiscent of the Edo period (1603-1868): heavy, striped paper with feather-like sheets inside reminiscent of Japanese rice paper or washi 和紙. The cover, instead of the usual dramatic photograph, is emblazoned with a simple stamp, reminiscent of woodblock prints. This image from May 1938 shows the rising sun, along with a ship and airplane intersecting the top and bottom.

Kaigun Gurafu May 1938

Cover of Kaigun Gurafu, May 1938

The changes to the cover and the return to a traditional Japanese calendar illustrate the ways in which the Japanese are proclaiming their native heritage. In the 1930s and 40s, Japan was an expanding empire steeped in patriotic media, and there was a strong effort to establish the Japanese emperor’s identity as a living god with roots stretching back into the mists of time. This is amply on display here, with the image of the rising sun literally being reinforced with new displays of power – by air and sea.

Kaigun Gurafu relies less on imagery and more on facts than Sora to Umi. (Although, as its name implies — “gurafu” is short for “photograph,” indicating an illustrated publication — it always contained sections of glossy photos of various naval scenes.) However, even this publication inserts a loving tribute to Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō 東郷平八郎 (1848-1934), who began his naval career during the Meiji period (1868-1912) as a dapper and handsome young man, and even appeared on the cover of Time Magazine on November 8, 1926. Upon his death in 1934, multiple Western nations sent representative dignitaries to his funeral.

Kaigun Gurafu, July 1934

Section on Admiral Tōgō in Kaigun Gurafu, July 1934

Another interesting aspect of Kaigun Gurafu is the advertisements. The advertisement on the very first page of many mid-1930s issues show a woman proudly displaying her new household gadgets, ranging from everything from a fan to a vacuum.

Kaigun Gurafu, March 1936

Mitsubishi advertisement in Kaigun Gurafu, March 1936

Upon first glance, Western readers may think of a husband indulging his wife in state-of-the-art appliances, but the truth is this may not be the case. Japan has long had a system of women managing household finances, and it seems likely that this practice began in the 1930s, when the financial and industrial conglomerates known as zaibatsu 財閥 kept the economy relatively healthy despite the Great Depression ravishing the rest of the world. “Salaryman” サラリーマン (a term that originated in the 1930s) in Japan traditionally turned over their monthly salary to their wives and in return received pocket money or okozukai 小遣い to cover their monthly expenses like food, shopping, and entertainment.

Kaigun Gurafu, September 1937

Mitsubishi advertisement in Kaigun Gurafu, September 1937

So, in a magazine that we might assume had targeted men, why were items meant for women being advertised? It is possible that women were buying the magazine. Given that even European and American women’s reading habits are not well studied, how much less is known about the reading habits of Japanese women in the 1930s? Even more illuminating are our own attitudes to early Japan, where many assume was repressive for Japanese women. By the Shōwa era, were women as enthusiastic about the military as men? Did they read these magazine in earnest for their sons or themselves?

Regardless, by 1938, the advertisements directed towards women were moved from the front to the back, and the clothing they wore (modern, Western, and freeing) was replaced with traditional kimono. Now a woman, instead of actively cleaning, sits demurely in front of a Mitsubishi space heater, practicing her calligraphy.

Kaigun Gurafu, January 1938

Mitsubishi advertisement in Kaigun Gurafu, January 1938

Another advertisement shows two women, painted as old-fashioned beauties, both in kimono, using a Mitsubishi sewing machine to then make even more kimono. The message is clear: we don’t want your Western ideas (or products) here.

Kaigun Gurafu, January 1939

Mitsubishi advertisement in Kaigun Gurafu, January 1939

For me, to study such a different era than the one I normally focused on gave me an opportunity to see the artwork and ideology comparison from one era to a much earlier one. What remained quintessentially Japanese both at war and at peace? I hope it will encourage other researchers to dive further into this unknown tract of research, and bring to light more perspective that is not our own.

“If a Woman Had Been Mayor”

[Ed. Note: Today’s post is by Prof. Zachary M. Schrag from George Mason University. We are very grateful to Prof. Schrag for visiting the Penn Libraries for his research and volunteering to write about what he found.]

Robert Montgomery Bird Family Correspondence (UPenn Ms. Coll. 1074, Box 1, folder 11)

From May 6 through 8, 1844, Protestant nativists battled Irish Catholic immigrants in the streets of Kensington—then an independent district north of the city of Philadelphia proper—and burned the Catholic churches of St. Michael and St. Augustine. Among the witnesses to the latter was 37-year-old Caroline Augusta Mayer, who on May 10 described the events to her sister, Mary E. Bird, then in Newcastle, Delaware. Caroline’s letter, written in haste and now preserved in the Robert Montgomery Bird Family Papers. UPenn MS Coll. 1074, describes the violence from the unusual perspective of an opinionated Philadelphia gentlewoman.

In May 1844, Caroline was living with her parents, Philip and Lucy Rodman Mayer, whose home on Race Street was about half a mile west of St. Augustine’s. On the evening of May 8, the Mayers were in the parlor when a scream from the garret sent them running upstairs. It was “Poor Mary” (probably Mary Shails, the Irish-born domestic listed with the family in the 1850 census), “strong in hysterics” at the sight of the church in flames. “The cross on the cupola stood out distinct in the flames to the last,” Caroline wrote, “& when at length it fell in, the flames were directly extinguished. It looked most striking, grand & sublime.”

That evening, Pennsylvania Militia troops deployed to protect the city’s surviving Catholic churches, including the elegant St. John the Evangelist, just north of fashionable Chestnut Street. On May 9, Philadelphians turned out to gawk. “The ladies not choosing to be chased out of their Chesnut Street—as why should they be? were out in flocks,” Caroline reported, “particularly the upper part. We all took occasion to pass by 13th & Chesnut in the course of the afternoon, thinking we might not soon see a fortified church again.” She took her 5-year-old nephew—Mary Bird’s son, Frederic Mayer Bird—who “was perfectly delighted to see the soldiers & cannon,” which she held him up to see. “But do not let his Dear Father think there is the slightest danger of his getting among the fighters.”

Caroline’s sister, Mary Bird, initially blamed the immigrants for the violence. “What a dreadful, wicked set of people they are to make such horrid riots,” she wrote to Frederic. But Caroline had a different view. “The Americans are ten times worse than the Irish, except the Protestant Irish,” she asserted, “and as for the poor Catholics, if people persecute them much longer, and all the saintly people smile & say, ‘Ah, ’tis sad, but their doctrines are so very wicked,’ I shall be tempted to turn Catholic myself. They at least are sincere, & not such detestable hypocrites.” Quite a statement from the daughter of a Lutheran minister.

Caroline also had sharp words for Philadelphia’s Mayor John Scott, who had failed to save St. Augustine’s. “Mother says, she would think rather more of [him], if he were less of an old granny, & had had the moral & physical courage to order a cannon to be fired on Monday afternoon … It is an unnecessary panic I think, & if the authorities were not such poltroons & cowards would not have existed. If a woman had been Mayor, I’ll warrant ordered [sic] would never have been infringed.”

This was unfair. Whatever one might think of Scott’s manhood, his jurisdiction did not extend to Kensington, the scene of Monday’s fighting. Sheriff Morton McMichael did have county-wide jurisdiction but no forces to go with it, as he explained to his friend Robert Montgomery Bird, Mary’s husband. In a May 17 letter, now in the Robert Montgomery Bird papers. UPenn MS Coll. 108, the sheriff pitied himself: “In the late riots I did all that I could do to suppress them, but I have been so hampered by the tardiness and inaction of others, upon whom I depended, but could not control, that my personal efforts were to a great degree unavailing.” Philadelphia’s riots were too big a problem for any individual to control, and would not be resolved until Philadelphia absorbed Kensington and its other suburbs in 1854.

A Woodblock on Pilgrimage: From Flanders to Philadelphia

[Ed. note: we are very grateful to Dr. Patricia Stoop, visiting Brueghel Chair at the University of Pennsylvania / Universiteit Antwerpen for contributing this post.]

At the beginning of this year, the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts of the University of Pennsylvania purchased a unique and fascinating woodblock (c. 12.5 × 9.5 inches). Apart from the fact that for mysterious reasons over the course of time, a strip of about half an inch was cut off from the left end of the block—this was already the case when it belonged to a private owner in Eindhoven (Noord-Brabant, the Netherlands) in the 1950s—the woodblock is in excellent condition.

The devotional print is related to Scherpenheuvel (literally ‘Sharp Hill’, most often called ‘Montaigu’ after the French), which since the beginning of the seventeenth century was the main pilgrimage center in the Habsburg Low Countries. Its cult goes back to at least the beginning of the fourteenth century. In his continuation of the Spiegel Historiael the Brabantine priest and author Lodewijk van Velthem (c. 1260/75–after 1317) mentions a holy oak, which had the form of a cross and stood on the hilltop between the towns of Diest and Zichem, where he was ordained as a priest. The tree was worshipped because of the healing powers ascribed to it:

Van ere eyken die men anebede. LVII.

In desen tiden was ganginge mede
Tuscen Zichgem ende Diest der stede
Rechte bi na te middewarde.
Daer dede menich sine bedevarde
Tot ere eyken, dat si u cont,
Die alse .i. cruse gewassen stont
Met .ii. rayen gaende uut.
Daer menich quam overluut,
Die daer ane hinc scerpe ende staf
Ende seide dat hi genesen waer daer af.
Som [s]liepense onder den boem.
Dus quam hem voren in haren droem
Datsi vanden boem genasen.
Aldus so quamen daer die dwasen,
Ende die waren meest siec vanden rede,
Ende vele verlorne daer optie stede.
Dit duerde wel .i. half jaer,
Sodat menige scerpe hinc daer
Ende menich staf anden boem.

On an oak that was worshipped. Chapter 57.

In these days pilgrimage took place
to a place almost in the middle
between Zichem and Diest.
Many went on pilgrimage there
to an oak, that as you should know
was grown in the form of a cross
with two diverging branches.
Apparently many put their
pilgrim bag and their cane on the tree
and said that they were cured thereof.
Some slept underneath the tree.
They believed that in their dreams
they were healed by the tree.
Thus the fools came there,
mostly sick of mind,
and lost many belongings in that place.
This took place definitely for half a year
so that many pilgrim bags
and many canes hung there on the tree.

(Book 4, Chapter 57, ll. 4256–74)

Not too long after Velthem’s disapproving observation, a small statue of the Virgin Mary was placed in the cross-shaped tree. According to the legend, a shepherd had noticed around 1415 that the statue had fallen down. When he lifted it up in order to take it home, he was unable to move. Only when his master, who was worried because the shepherd had not returned home after work, put the statue of the Virgin back into the tree, was the servant able to move again. In this way the Virgin had shown the spiritual importance of the place. In the woodblock the shepherd is depicted in the lower left corner: he is identified by the French word berger, which indicates that the prints to be produced from this block were intended for a French-speaking audience.

After the miracle with the shepherd, the site was frequented by inhabitants of the surrounding villages whenever they were sick or a member of their family suffered from illness or pain. As suggested in the short passage from the text by Velthem, the pilgrims hung their support aids on the tree when they did not need them any longer: in October 1603 the tree counted no less than 135 canes. But there was also a lively trade in ex-votos: pilgrims could buy representations in gold, silver or tin of the body parts that were cured or needed healing (in the last case it was believed that the representation of the ill limb would take over the disease). These votive offerings were left hanging on the holy tree, as can be seen in the image above the radiant aureole in which the Virgin is depicted.

In the 1580s Scherpenheuvel found itself in the midst of the battlefields of the Dutch Revolt (1568–1648). While occupied by Protestant forces of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands between 1580 and 1583, the statue of the Virgin fell victim to an act of iconoclasm and was removed. After the town was retaken by the Spanish army, the cult was restored in 1587 by the parishioners of Zichem. (This town is represented in the woodblock both by the striped coat of arms at the left end of the woodblock and the stag with the crucifix at the right end of the block, which refers to St Eustachius, the town’s patron saint). By that time the site also had a strong appeal to Spanish soldiers who were wounded or infected by diseases. Via them, stories of miraculous healings spread all the way to France and the north of Spain. One of the people who benefited from these miraculous healings is represented centrally in the lower edge of the woodblock. Hans Clements—or Jean Clement as he is called on the woodblock (both names are derived from the Latin name Johannes)—, citizen of Lucerne in Switzerland, was born crippled. He traveled throughout the Netherlands on this knees, begging, until he arrived in Scherpenheuvel where the Virgin Mary finally answered his prayers and cured his disability.

The story about Hans (or Jean) Clements is one of the most famous miracles that happened in Scherpenheuvel in 1603 and 1604. It is extensively described by Philips Numan (c. 1550–1627), humanist writer and town secretary of Brussels, in his collection of miracles ascribed to Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel: Historie van de mirakelen die onlancx in grooten ghetale ghebeurt zijn door die intercessie ende voer bidden van die H. Maget Maria op een plaetse genoemt Scherpen heuvel by die Stadt van Sichen in Brabant [History of the miracles that happened recently in large numbers by the intercession and mediation of the Holy Virgin Mary in a place named Scherpenheuvel near the city of Zichem in Brabant]. Numan collected the miracles by order of the archbishop of Mechelen, Mathias Hovius (1542–1620). The first edition was printed in Louvain by Rutger Velpius in 1604. The image below is taken from the third edition printed by the same printer in 1606. Besides the publication in Dutch, Numan wrote a French version for the local nobility and a Spanish one intended for the court. Not much later an English translation was printed (1606). A Latin version was published by the famous humanist Justus Lipsius (1605).


The third edition of the Historie van de mirakelen (Brussels: Rutgeert Velpius, 1606). Copperplate engraving. Copy of the Heritage Library of the Ruusbroec Institute, Antwerpen, RG 3091 I 13. In the middle Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel is depicted in the same radiant aureole as can be found on the woodblock. She is accompanied by Hans Clemens to her right and Catherine du Bus, who is exclaiming the message of the devil.

The second great miracle is depicted in the lower left corner of the woodblock: there we see a woman on her knees, her arms spread while she expresses the message of the devil. The woman is identified as Catherine du Bus, a woman from Lille, France, who was able to speak Hebrew and Greek, although she never studied those languages, a clear sign that she was possessed by the devil. While being exorcized, she made predictions about the siege of the city of Ostend, which at the time was occupied by the Dutch rebels. During the process, which initially failed a number of times, the devil—in both the woodblock and the copperplate engraving he is pictured in a speech balloon—via Catherine’s mouth shouted to eyewitnesses that they were wrong in believing that the Spaniards would be able to win the siege. After eating a fragment of the oak tree of Scherpenheuvel, however, the devil was forced out, and on 22 September 1604 the Royal Spanish troops of Archduke Albert of Austria (1559–1621) took over Ostend, all thanks to the intervention of the Virgin of Scherpenheuvel.

Miracles like these established the fame of Scherpenheuvel as a pilgrimage site on a greater level than a regional one. In 1603, after they had heard that the Virgin had wept blood, the Archduke and his wife Isabella (1566–1633), who are depicted in the lower right corner of the woodblock (which is quite exceptional in devotional prints from Scherpenheuvel), visited the place for the first time and took it under their protection. In order to spread the devotion, books such as Numan’s and other devotional representations were mass produced. In the meantime a small wooden chapel was built for the statue of the Virgin in front of the oak in 1602. As we see in Velthem’s text, the worshipping of a tree was not much appreciated by the Catholic priests. Only two years later this wooden chapel was replaced by a larger, stone version. Likely it is this chapel that is depicted on the woodcut. In 1607 Albrecht and Isabella, out of gratitude for the expulsion of the Calvinists from the Southern Low Countries, decided that Scherpenheuvel had to be transformed into a fully-fledged pilgrimage site. In order to stimulate this they commissioned the building of a new basilica as a symbol of the Counter Reformation. The foundation stone of this new church was laid by them on 2 July 1606, the Feast of the Visitation of the Virgin. It is usually this basilica, which still is the destination of many pilgrims to this day, which is represented on devotional prints from Scherpenheuvel such as the example below.

Jean Clement and other pilgrims being healed by Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel, with the new basilica in the background. Printed by Johannes I van den Sande (1600–c. 1675), after 1620. Antwerpen, Ruusbroec Institute, Collection Alfons Thijs, KP 31.17.

This observation may help us in dating the woodblock. Contrary to the date of c. 1750 offered in the catalogue of Samuel Gedge Ltd. (from whom the Kislak Center acquired the piece) it is more likely that the woodblock is from a much earlier date. The fact that the woodblock does not depict the new basilica that was built from 1609 onwards (and consecrated in 1627), but instead the chapel that stood at the pilgrimage site before, indicates that the woodblock was produced in the short period between 1603/04, the years in which the miracles of Hans Clements and Catherine du Bus took place, and 1609 when the chapel was torn down in order to replace it with the new basilica, or certainly before 1627 when the new basilica was consecrated. Given the fact that devotional prints such as this woodblock were intended to propagate the cult of both the Virgin and the pilgrimage town, it seems to make little sense that one would not depict the impressive new church on devotional prints after it was completed. Moreover, the striking similarities in iconography with the copperplate engraving in the third edition of Numan’s Historie printed in 1606 as well as with a devotional print from 1602 and especially an approbation by the church on 17 November 1604 (see below) seem to support a dating in the first decade of the seventeenth century.

–Patricia Stoop

Ms20614_fol2v_3r detail

Copperplate engraving by the Antwerp engraver and print publisher Adriaan Huberti (active between 1573 and 1614) from an ecclesiastical approbation (1604) showing Our Lady of Scherpenheuvel in the oak, the three miracles ascribed to her, and archduke Albrecht and his wife Isabella. Under the mandorla with Our Lady one can see the little stone chapel that is also depicted at the woodcut. The coats of arms are those of Zichem (under the mandorla), Brabant (left) and the princess of Oranje-Nassau, the Lords of Zichem (right). Brussel, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 20614, fols 2v–3r.


Bowen, K.L., Marian Pilgrimage Sites in Brabant: A Bibliography of Books Printed Between 1600–1850 (Leuven: Peeters, 2008).

De Meyer, M., ‘Een oude bedevaartprent van Scherpenheuvel’, Volkskunde: driemaandelijks tijdschrift voor de studie van het volksleven, 55 (1954), 144–45.

Duerloo, Luc and Marc Wingens, Scherpenheuvel: het Jeruzalem van de Lage Landen (Leuven: Davidsfonds, 2002).

Duerloo, Luc, Dynasty and Piety: Archduke Albert (1598–1621) and Habsburg Political Culture in an Age of Religious Wars (London: Routledge, 2012).

Samuel Gedge LTD, Catalogue xxv, no. 20.

Etta Winigrad: Artist of the Figurative and the Fantastical

It’s a small but important collection, documenting the work of a local woman who lives in two worlds, those of art and business. She has managed to create an amazing collection of ceramic sculptures while also helping to run the family business (Parkway Corp.), begun by her parents, Herman and Lee Zuritsky. Moreover, a collection of over 500 photographs of performing artists, taken by her late husband Allen J. Winigrad, between 1973 and 1989, has been in the collection of the Penn Libraries since 1994.

Etta Zuritsky Winigrad is a Philadelphia artist and Penn graduate (FA’58 Ed’59) for whom ceramics have been her primary, though not her exclusive medium. Her thought-provoking sculptures, which combine figurative and fantastical elements, reflect her focus on the situation of humanity in the world. As she herself says:

From the very beginning, my sculptural work has been a continuing exploration and attempt to illustrate ideas and concerns of the human condition, both whimsical and serious.

The figurative element in her work, as seen here in “Reborn,” provides a point of entry for the viewer.

By combining realistic and fantastical elements I am trying to encourage the audience to draw on their own imagination and life experiences for interpretation.

Over time, she developed a firing technique for her sculptures, which is fascinating, combining a conceptual framework with the serendipity of real life.

The recent sculptures are of a low fire white clay body that easily absorbs the smoke and carbon from the newspaper I burn around it out in the open after it has been fired to maturity in the kiln. The smoke acts as a paint brush which allows the color to appear as if created by the hand of nature and not as an applied coat of paint from the hand of man. By controlling the smoke, to some extent, I can use it to emphasize the forms and the way the audience views the piece.

Her influences are many, coming from the African, South Pacific, and pre-Columbian art that she and her husband collected, and which is on display in her home.

I especially like the simpler primitive shapes that speak to us so powerfully and seem to tap into those forms that we have genetically accumulated in our psyches.


Etta (born July 25, 1936) recalls being six or seven years old when her parents, Herman and Lee Zuritsky, began their Philadelphia-based parking business. Etta recalls that even in her day, Etta’s mother Lee was active in the business. One of eleven children, Lee Zuritsky was the only one to finish high school, and Etta describes her mother as her role model and credits her for having the courage to pursue her dream.

In the late 1950s, when she went to Penn, she applied to the School of Fine Arts, rather than the College for Women, knowing that it was easier to get into the fine arts program, but that once you were in you could take any course at the University that you wanted. After graduating, she briefly taught junior high school before deciding that teaching was not for her.

She admits that up until the time she got married, she thought of art consisted exclusively of painting and drawing. After she was married and had her first two children, she would have a babysitter come in for a few hours and use her free time to go to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for classes in drawing and painting. One day the teacher gave them some clay and asked them to use the model to create a three-dimensional work. This was an epiphany for Etta, who discovered that what she couldn’t do with paint she could do with clay. However, everyone who works in clay begins by making pots, which Etta found to be limiting, so she began to look for whatever would teach her about sculpture. After that she looked for classes on sculpting with clay, even traveling out west to take them. Between 1968 and 1996, she took continuing education courses at Moore College of Art in Philadelphia, as well as workshops at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and other institutions across the nation.

Etta and Allen lived for years in Cherry Hill, NJ, raising their four boys (Michael, David, Jacob, and Daniel) there. It was there that she had her first kiln, built in a shed from bricks, where she did more traditional kinds of firing, like Raku. It was originally a gas kiln, but she converted it to electric so that she would have more control over the actual process of firing, since during the process of firing the temperature needs to rise and then lower gradually, so as not to crack the sculpture during the firing process. It was while living and working in Cherry Hill that she first developed the smoking technique that was to become one of her signatures.

When she moved to Paoli, PA, after her children were grown, she had a big studio with an indoor kiln, the largest one they made, allowing her to make much bigger sculptures. She smoked them after firing in the driveway. The studio in her current apartment (seen here) in Rittenhouse Square, to which she moved more recently, was designed to hold a smaller electric kiln, this one computerized to fire her work to her specifications without constant monitoring, since the firing process can take days. However, the final smoking process now takes place in the driveway of her son David’s house in Penn Valley.

Smoking technique

When asked how she came to the smoking technique that she uses to provide a patina to the surface of her sculptures, Etta says she probably came to it accidentally. She was looking for a way to unify the surface and move the eye around the sculpture without using traditional color. Color doesn’t speak to Etta the way it does to what she refers to as “real colorists.” Color draws you to a certain point, and she didn’t want viewers to focus on color, but on the whole piece. She didn’t want color to pull one away from the sculptural aspects of her work. And when she occasionally uses color, it’s intended for a specific purpose.

The success of this technique depends on both the type of clay she is using and the firing technique she employs. High-fire clays can be fired at high temperatures, which allow the clay to “vitrify,” that is, undergo a chemical change that drive out all the water molecules and makes the object waterproof. However, low-fire clays have open pores after firing, meaning they can absorb water and, in the case of Winigrad’s smoking technique, the carbon byproducts of combustion.  Etta works with plain clays, generally white and gray, which work well as a receptive surface for tinting with smoke. The result is that it looks like the coloring has grown out of the piece rather than being applied to it.

 She insists on using the Philadelphia Inquirer for her smoking, shying away from pages with color as well as the sport section. To “smoke” a sculpture, she wraps newspaper around the sculptures and carefully sets fire to it, manipulating it as it smokes. She uses wet paper to mask areas that she doesn’t want smoked. After smoking she sprays it with a fixative so that the carbon patina becomes a permanent part of the sculpture. Continue reading

A Collection of Korekushon


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

For libraries large and small, one of the most routinely challenging tasks is dealing with resources that can seem prosaic or even occasionally expendable: periodicals. For some of us, the word alone conjures up the image of unvisited library spaces desperate to be populated with “real books”; for others among us, it serves as shorthand for a cumbersome search and retrieval process followed by laborious photocopying that we’d rather someone else do for us. On the backend of the library, periodicals prevent a whole different series of frustrations: title changes, hiccups in numbering schemes and publication frequencies, and numerous special issues and supplements that defy tidy organization. But these difficulties can also serve as a fascinating view into the histories of publishers, and of the intellectual and economic trends that shaped their publications.

Select issues of the first three runs of Korekushon, housed in official portfolios.

Select issues of the first three runs of Korekushon, housed in official portfolios.

Korekushon これくしょん (from the English word collection), the little journal that could, serves as both a worthy exemplar of how the histories of publishers are encoded in their products, as well as a practical primer in the complex interrelationships among periodicals and their makers. Spanning some 66 years and four separate attempts to reboot the title, the history of Korekushon is also the story of its editors, Yamanouchi Kinzaburō 山内金三郎 (1886-1966) and Imamura Hidetarō 今村秀太郎 (1907-1994), and their half-century quest to connect art lovers with objects of beauty and the exquisite artists’ books that they helped produce.

The Birth of the Gohachi Brand: 1911-1937

The son of Osaka lumber dealer Yamanouchi Nakagobē 山内中五兵衛, Kinzaburō’s own interest in wood products veered towards the art objects that could be created from it. In 1910, at the age of 24, Kinzaburō graduated from the now-defunct Tokyo Fine Arts School 東京美術学校 (the current Department of Fine Arts of Tokyo University of the Arts), and in the following year, he established the art shop Gohachi 吾八, named in honor of his paternal grandfather. Gohachi dealt in all sorts of Japanese folk arts such as ōtsu-e folk illustration and traditional toys like kokeshi dolls こけし. In 1912, Kinzaburō turned his hand to publishing with the release of Ōtsu-e-shū 大津絵集, a compilation of ōtsu-e owned by numerous art lovers. Just two years later, under his artist’s moniker “Yamanouchi Shinpu” 山内神斧, Kinzaburō released what would become the first installment in a multivolume artist’s book, Jūjū 寿々(from the French word jou-jou, “toy”), a lovely compendium of illustrations of traditional toys from around the world.

By 1919, Kinzaburō had closed up Gohachi and began freelancing as an illustrator for the monthly women’s magazine Shufu no tomo 主婦の友, until eventually gaining full-time employment as a chief editor there. In 1936, at the age of 50, Kinzaburō retired from the company; in April of the following year, with the help of Shufu no tomo junior editor Imamura Hidetarō, he re-opened Gohachi in Ginza, Tokyo. To commemorate this occasion they launched the first issue of their PR-shi PR誌 (“house organ”) Korekushon with Kinzaburō as editor-in-chief.

The “Pre-War” Korekushon: 1937-1944

Known among collectors as the senzen-ban 戦前版 or “pre-war” edition, the first run of Korekushon lasted for 64 numbers, with the inaugural issue (no. 1, April 1937) coinciding with the opening of Gohachi.

Two spreads from

Two spreads from “paid edition” of the pre-war Korekushon, no. 18 (Sept. 1938). Top: Drawings of German folk toys from Saxony; Bottom: Playing card theme bookplate sample insert next to first page of glossy “advertising edition”.

Korekushon rode the wave of limited edition books (genteiban 限定版) and miniature books (mame-hon 豆本, literally “bean books”) that had begun to wash over Japan in the 1930s, just as the fervor for enpon 円本—the cheaply priced 1-yen books that drove the market of multivolume sets like zenshū 全集 (“complete works”)—began to ebb. In contrast to the mass-produced “collect ’em all” visual uniformity of enpon series, the special edition books of the 1930s encouraged collectibility by limiting their numbers. This first iteration of Korekushon not only advertised such books (some produced in-house at Gohachi), but also served as a limited edition collectible itself. Nominally marked as “not for sale” (hibahin 非売品), issues of Korekushon were initially printed in runs of 500 copies, and offered for sale in subscriptions of 5 issues for 50 sen (equal to half a yen).

Despite these relatively large production numbers, the 1937 Korekushon has a charming handcrafted feel to it. The covers and select pages are printed on Japanese paper (washi) and are untrimmed with a deckle edge. These washi pages feature hand-pasted inserts of full-color paper samples and unsigned woodcut prints of what was likely Kinzaburō’s own art. Interleaved with these are glossy black-and-white pages containing photographs of other artworks for sale. By Korekushon no. 16, Gohachi had implemented a new strategy: the glossy portions would serve as a self-contained catalog and be offered for free as the “advertising edition” (senden-ban 宣傳版); for a semiannual 1.5 yen subscription, however, readers could purchase six issues of the “paid edition (yūryō-ban 有料版), limited to 200 copies. These “paid editions” contained the entire glossy “advertising editions,” stapled into deluxe printed washi pages replete with content: original art by people like literatus Mushanokōji Saneatsu 武者小路實篤 (1885-1976); articles and serialized content like Kawaguchi Eizō’s 川口栄三 seventy-page bibliography on toys and figurines, Gangu ningyō bunken no shiori 玩具人形文献の栞 (included in no. 45-53); hand-inserted samples of the stationery and bookplates that Gohachi offered for sale; and, of course, the monthly editorial corner that kept fans and customers up to date on shop happenings.

Illustrations of folk dolls from Korekushon (1937)'s “paid edition”. Right: Stuffed

Illustrations of folk dolls from Korekushon (1937)’s “paid edition”. Right: Stuffed “older sister” dolls ane-sama ningyō 姉様人形 from Miyake Island (no. 34, Jan. 1940); Left: Korean female doll kaksi 閣氏 or 각시 (no. 35, Feb. 1940)

After five years of publication, Korekushon no. 64 (June 1943) was announced as the final issue, citing difficulties with the printers in a time when paper was seen as a wartime necessity and not a hobbyist’s frivolity. Not to be defeated, however, Gohachi’s final editorial announced a plan for a smaller, ostensibly less luxurious 4-8 page booklet to be distributed for free. Gohachi’s noble intentions notwithstanding, this short-lived sequel Gohachi dayori 吾八信り is no less attractive than its predecessor, but after a delayed no. 2 (December 1943), subscribers eager to read a third installment were instead greeted with a joint letter from Kinzaburō and Hidetarō, dated April 1944, announcing both the dissolution of Gohachi and a full refund on subscription fees—paid in the form of postage stamps.

Korekushon Goes Osaka: 1947-1955

Although Gohachi was the brainchild and brand of Kinzaburō, it was Hidetarō who took care of the store’s day-to-day operations. By Korekushon no. 5, Hidetarō was listed as the representative editor and publisher in the colophon. In actuality, just months after founding Gohachi, Kinzaburō was already living a bimetropolitan life, serving as the silent partner of Gohachi in Tokyo but spending most of his time in hometown of Osaka, where he dealt art objects in Hankyu Department Store 阪急百貨店. Ever the publisher, Kinzaburō served as editor of Hankyu’s newly-launched art-themed PR-shi Hankyū bijutsu 阪急美術 (later spelled 汎究美術), a little magazine that would eventually evolve into the commercially produced Nihon bijutsu kōgei 日本美術工芸 and cease in 1997 after a whopping 700 issues.

Back in Tokyo, the editorial column of Korekushon no. 47 (April 1941) announced that a new “Gohachi” was being planned as part of Hankyu Department Store. This store would instead launch under a new brand, Umeda Shobō 梅田書房 (“Umeda Booksellers”), and it would continue operations throughout the war, even as Gohachi went under in 1944. Although Kinzaburō’s flagship store had shuttered, his commitment to publishing continued. In February of 1947, taking advantage of a new post-war boom in the used book market, Kinzaburō rebooted Korekushon as the catalog of Umeda Shobō.

Kinzaburō’s flair for design is on full display in this 1947 edition of Korekushon. Almost every number of Umeda Shobō’s Korekushon is hand-written and mimeographed, with a zine-like feel absent from its 1937 predecessor. Only one issue is in typeset: no. 93 (August 1955), the auction catalog of Hankyu’s 18th Used Book Fair. An editorial in the following issue, no. 94 (October 1955), announced a glorious return to handwritten mimeography, due to vocal reader feedback.


Front and back covers of Korekushon (1947). Top: spread of no. 8 (Sept. 1947); Bottom: kokeshi dolls on no. 12 (Jan. 1948).

Despite the differences in textual flavor, and a stock list more naturally geared toward books than objets d’art, the content is a natural progression of the 1937 Korekushon, with preoccupations on folk craft (mingei 民芸) at the forefront. Besides features like the colorfully illustrated, 20-installment column “Meika junrai” 名菓巡礼 (“A Pilgrimage of Notable Confections”), the work of artists like of artists like illustrator Kawakami Sumio 川上澄生 (1895-1972) and textile designer Serizawa Keisuke 芹沢銈介 (1895-1984) begin to feature prominently in editorials and advertisements.

It’s difficult to say what inspired Korekushon to once again stop publishing: The Penn Libraries does not own the final issue, no. 102 (February 1957), so there is no farewell missive to consult. But this wasn’t the last that people would see of Korekushon. Continue reading

Beyond the First Folio

[Ed. note: Today’s post is by Isabel Gendler, a rising Penn senior and history major who is a CURF fellow at the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts this summer]

On my first day interning at the Kislak Center, I paged through the Furness Library’s copies of the Second, Third and Fourth Folios. A group of scholars examining the less-studied later Folios had contacted Penn wanting to know if these copies contained any marginalia, corrections, or marks of provenance. To my surprise, I discovered that the flyleaves of Penn’s second copy of the Fourth Folio were virtually filled with notes in the same neat handwriting. The most recent work referenced in the notes, Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the Lake (1810), suggests the annotations were written in the early 19th century.

Readers have long written, doodled, and made notes in their books.[1] The majority of marks made by readers simply indicate ownership. However, people also wrote in books to express their opinions or organize their responses (as readers do today), whether for personal enjoyment or for scholarly or professional purposes.[2] In her work on reader annotation, H.J. Jackson states that, while marginalia are potentially highly valuable to individuals studying literature and literary culture, scholars debate the degree to which marginalia can reliably be used to reconstruct an individual reader’s thoughts or a particular intellectual climate.[3] The copious notes present in Penn’s Fourth Folio suggest that if such notes do not lend themselves to definite conclusions, they may serve as a starting point for inquiries into the individuals and cultures that created them.

Three copies of the Fourth Folio, published in 1685, were donated to Penn in 1931, as part of the extensive library of Shakespeare and Shakespeare-related materials collected by Horace Howard Furness, Sr. and his son, Horace Howard Furness, Jr.. The title page of the copy designated “copy two” bears the signature “Bartram,” the only clue relating to its earlier history. The annotations in question comprise a mixture of excerpts from the plays themselves and references to scholarly and non-scholarly works. The reader cited the work of two respected Shakespeare editors and commentators, Edward Capell (1713-1741) and Edmond Malone (1741-1812), demonstrating a certain level of familiarity with the world of Shakespeare criticism. They also referenced an eclectic group of texts, including one of Petrarch’s sonnets and Bishop Robert Lowth’s treatise on Hebrew poetry (1753).

Isabel - Capell and Malone

Front pastedown of UPenn Furness Folio PR2751.A4 copy 2

In particular, the reader quoted Petrarch’s Sonnet 29 in association with Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy.


The reader’s familiarity with the sonnet and their decision to quote the poem in the original Italian suggests, much like the references to Capell and Malone, that the reader was well-educated, with a broad interest in literature. The sonnet’s value appears to be thematic rather than contextual – the narrator’s vision of the relief offered by death bears an obvious resemblance to Hamlet’s speech, but the 14th century sonnet seems to have little other relation to the 16th-century play. One might consequentially theorize that the reader was annotating for personal enjoyment rather than for more formal scholarly purposes. Whereas the aforementioned Capell compiled texts written before and during Shakespeare’s lifetime to better understand the intellectual climate in which the playwright operated, this reader may have quoted Petrarch simply because they enjoyed pairing the soliloquy with a beautiful poem expressing a similar sentiment.[4]

The reader further copied numerous lines of the text onto the front and back flyleaves, sometimes accompanied by mentions of scholarly or fictional works. Intriguingly, two quotes are preceded by the headings “woman” and “women – influence” and many others seem to center on femininity.

Isabel - Women

These quotes – which included Hamlet’s famous line “Frailty, thy name is woman” as well as selections from ten other comedies, tragedies and history plays – construct a somewhat complex image of Shakespeare’s female characters. In this reader’s vision, women appear to have a singularly powerful and sometimes destructive hold on men – selections from Measure for Measure  and Henry VI, Part I suggest that women can use their feminine grace and vulnerability to influence men, while Lady Macbeth goads her reluctant husband into action and the jealously of Adriana of The Comedy of Errors seems to have driven her husband insane (5.1.70-89). However, certain quotes describe feminine power and charm in a positive light – Henry VI, Part III’s Queen Margaret successfully rallies her son’s followers and a quote describing the captivating Cleopatra is followed by the phrase “no insipid beauty.” This may be a quote from the Shakespeare commentator George Steevens (1736 – 1800), from a note to the same scene in which he urged his female readers to note that many of the women who have “enslaved the hearts of princes” did so through their mental, rather than physical, charms.[5] It is probable that an individual familiar with Capell and Malone had also read Steevens’ work, leaving the modern reader to wonder if the annotator similarly believed their female contemporaries should learn from the examples set by the woman of Shakespeare.

This group of quotations illustrates how marginalia can spark scholarly inquiries. How, for example, does the image of women constructed by these quotations (if one agrees that these quotations do present a definite sense of feminine weakness and persuasiveness) compare to early 19th century norms of female behavior? How do these quotations compare to contemporaneous studies of women in Shakespeare?


[1] H. J. Jackson, Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), 53.
[2] Ibid., 14, 33-35
[3] Ibid., 15.
[4] Marcus Walsh, Shakespeare, Milton and Eighteenth Century Literary Editing: The Beginnings of Interpretive Scholarship (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 185.
[5]  Isaac Reed, ed., The Dramatic Works of William Shakespeare with the Corrections and Annotations of Dr. Johnson, George Steevens and Others (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1905), 6:126.


Penn’s “Matthew” Bible (1537)

[Ed. Note: This is the first part of a series by participants in the Rare Book School course on “The Bible and Histories of Reading,” taught by Peter Stallybrass with the assistance of Lynne Farrington, on a single bible at Penn: The Byble, which is all the Holy Scripture: in whych are contayned the Olde and Newe Testament, truly and purely translated into Englysh by Thomas Matthew (Printed in Antwerp by Thomas Crum? for the London Booksellers Richard Grafton and Edward Whitchurch, 1537), STC 2066, UPenn RBC Folio BS150 1537]

In the Summer of 2016, Philadelphia hosted four courses for the Rare Book School, three of them held in the Kislak Center on the 6th floor of the Van Pelt Library. The participants in the seminar on “The Bible and Histories of Reading” worked on a wide range of manuscripts and books in Penn’s collections, from fourteenth-century books of hours to nineteenth-century salesmen’s sample bibles (used in door to door book-selling, promoting the “same” bible in different bindings and with a variety of illustrations and additional materials at a wide range of prices). But the group also worked on the history of one particular bible from its printing in sixteenth-century Europe to its arrival in the USA in the nineteenth century. The specific copy that we studied is a “Matthew” Bible, printed in 1537. The bible is so named because it claims on the title page that it was “truly and purely translated into Englysh by Thomas Matthew.”


“Thomas Matthew” as the translator of the Matthew Bible (1537)

But who was “Thomas Matthew”? It was already known in the sixteenth century that the name was a pseudonym. John Foxe wrote in the 1570 edition of his Acts and Monuments:

 thou hast louing reader, to note and vnderstand that in those dayes there were ij. sundry Bibles in Englishe, [p. 1402] printed and set forth, bearing diuers titles, and printed in diuers places. The first was called Thomas Mathews Bible, printed at Hambrough, about the yeare of our Lord. 1532. the correctour of whiche printe was then Iohn Rogers… In the translation of this Bible, the greatest doer was in dede   William Tyndall, who with the helpe of Myles Couerdale had  translated all the bookes therof, except only the Apocripha, and  certein notes in the margent, which were added after. But because the sayd William Tyndall in the meane tyme was apprehended before this Bible was fully perfected, it was thought good to them whiche had the doyng therof, to chaunge the name of William Tyndall, because that name then was odious, and to father it by a straunge name of Thomas Mathewe,  Iohn Rogers the same tyme beyng correctour to the printe,  who had then translated the residue of þe Apocrypha, and added also certeine notes thereto in the margent, and thereof came it to bee called Thomas Mathewes Bible.[1]

If “Thomas Matthews” was a pseudonym, was it the pseudonym of Tyndale or of John Rogers? Both had reason to conceal their names while the translation was in the making, but in 1537, when the bible was printed, Tyndale had already been executed as a heretic. Although Tyndale’s name would have made the book impossible to market in England, it was Rogers who had the more immediate reason to conceal his identity, given that the fate of this revised translation was by no means assured. Moreover, Rogers was repeatedly referred to during his later prosecution for heresy under Mary Tudor as “John Rogers, alias Matthew.” The initials “I R” (“I” and “J” being the same letter in the sixteenth century, so presumably standing for “Iohn Rogers”) are printed from large and elaborate woodblock letters below “An exhortacyon to the studye of the holy Scriptures gathered out of the Byble” (sig. *4).


“I R,” standing for “Iohn Rogers”

Such fine and elaborate woodblock letters as these were not being cut in London, which was far behind Antwerp in terms of printing technology in the sixteenth century – and it was indeed in Antwerp that the bible was printed. In 1534, Rogers had arrived in Antwerp, where he was appointed chaplain to the English merchants at the English House. William Tyndale, who had already translated the New Testament from Greek into English (1526), as well as the Pentateuch from Hebrew into English (1530), was at that time living in the English House. Even after his arrest in 1534, Tyndale continued to work on the parts of the bible that he had not yet translated, above all the historical books. But it is probable in our view that he had support from other biblical scholars, including Rogers, and there has been perhaps too great a tendency to attribute most of the new work to Tyndale alone. In addition to his work as co-translator, Rogers added prefaces, marginal notes, cross-references, and chapter summaries, largely drawn from the French translations of Lefèvre d’Étaples and Pierre Robert Olivétan that Martin de Keyser had published in Antwerp (1530, 1534, 1535). If it is the work of Rogers that the elaborate “I R” initials point to, it is above all his biography that the Penn copy of the Matthew Bible celebrates through the later additions pasted into it.

By the nineteenth century, when Penn’s copy was brought to the United States, “John Rogers,” whose identity was deliberately obscured except for his initials in 1537, had become a household name – nowhere more so than in New England. John Singleton Copley painted a portrait of him in 1759, which was donated to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1854. Several further copies of Copley’s painting, with the inscription “Martyrio Coronatus, 4 Feb. 1555” (“crowned as a martyr, 4 February 1555”), were also made. An early painting of Rogers also hangs in the museum of the Worcester Historical Society.


“John Rogers the Martyr”: lithograph in Penn’s Matthew Bible

A lithograph of this Worcester painting was pasted into the front of Penn’s Matthew Bible in the nineteenth century. The lithograph was printed with the following text:

John Rogers the Martyr; The Coadjutor of Tyndale: who under the name of ‘Thomas Matthew,’ translated in part and revised the Text, from the Hebrew and Greek, arranged the Canon, compiled notes,  summaries, a rudimentary concordance and commentary, and published, August 4, 1537, the first Authorised Version of the English  Bible, placed by authority in every parish church. Proto-martyr of  Queen Mary’s reign. Burnt alive in Smithfield, Feb. 4, 1555. The original painting in the Historical Society’s Museum, Worcester, Mass., brought over in the Mayflower by Thomas Rogers, who signed  the ‘Social Compact’ at Plymouth, Mass., Nov. 21, 1620, and afterwards founded the family at Salem, by whom the portrait was deposited at Worcester, Mass., U.S.A.

The description above helps to account for the specific interest in John Rogers in North America, since not only was he a “puritan” who had suffered martyrdom for his beliefs but his namesake Thomas Rogers (in fact, unrelated) could be directly connected to the founding colonists. Thomas Rogers, a member of the English separatist church in Leiden, did indeed move to New England, but it is unlikely, although not impossible, that he brought a painting of John Rogers with him.

Probably at about the same time that the lithograph of the Worcester painting was added to the Penn bible, another depiction of Rogers was pasted in on the following blank leaf. This second portrait is an engraving by the Flemish draughtsman and engraver Crispin van der Passe (c1565-1637), who began working in Antwerp, but, as an Anabaptist, fled from the Counter-Reformation city to Cologne in 1589, before fleeing again to Utrecht in 1611. The two images on the blank leaves at the beginning of Penn’s “Matthew” Bible are clearly intended as author-portraits: even though their texts relate primarily to Rogers’s martyrdom, their positioning asserts Rogers’s role as “author” of the “Matthew” Bible.


Crispin van der Passe, “Ioannes Rogersius Mart:”

Below van der Passe’s engraving is a Latin couplet by the Dutch antiquarian and humanist, Arnoldus Buchelius (=Aernout van Buchell), together with his “AB” monogram:


Te pietas alium JANE hinc abduxit in orbem
Martyrem vt et patriae redderet inde tuae. AB”

[“John Rogers, Martyr. With you, John, piety has been drawn away from here to another world [i.e. heaven], restoring you to your fatherland as a martyr. AB”)

Buchelius (1565–1641) was from Utrecht, so presumably the engraving was done between 1611, when van der Passe arrived in Utrecht, and 1620, when it was published in Henry Holland’s Heroologia Anglica,

It was not, however, such sophisticated representations of John Rogers that turned him into a household name in America. On the contrary, they are themselves testimony to the fame that he had already achieved because of his prominent place in the single most popular children’s primer in colonial America. The New-England Primer, of which perhaps five million copies were printed before the American Revolution, gives an extraordinary and striking prominence to Rogers not only as the author of a long poem that he supposedly wrote shortly before his execution but also because of the woodcuts in nearly every edition that depict him being burned to death in front of his wife and children. Here are three such images from Penn’s small collection of primers.[3]

Like so much of the greatest Christian art prior to the Renaissance, these images for children are resolutely anachronistic. Very occasionally, one finds a soldier wearing armor who might indeed have come from the sixteenth century. But the great majority of these cuts show an eighteenth-century clergyman, an eighteenth-century wife, and eighteenth-century soldiers. If the cuts are dated, it is because they continued to be used for decades after they were made. But the stress is upon the present: yes, John Rogers was executed in 1554, but it is also happening right now.

Continue reading

Japanese Lucky Almanacs and Their Knockoffs


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Earlier this year, the Penn Libraries began accessioning the collection of the late Reverend Shojo Honda (1929-2015), generously donated to the University of Pennsylvania by his son Tamon Honda. Rev. Honda’s collection is a mix of Japanese and English publications focusing largely on Shin Buddhism, but it also covers topics as diverse as Sanskrit language study, Japanese flower arrangement (ikebana), the works of author Shiba Ryōtarō, and local histories of Takatsuki, Osaka—the city in which Rev. Honda spent part of his youth. Many of these books are owned by no other library in the world. Some, like his mimeographed adaptations of short stories by Akutagawa Ryūnosuke and Ogawa Mimei, are not just unique bibliographic treasures, but also a direct window into Rev. Honda’s life and interests. And some of the items from the Reverend’s library were utterly unanticipated.

Covers and sample spreads from Rev. Honda's lucky almanacs.

Covers and sample spreads from Rev. Honda’s lucky almanacs, opened up to his Nine Star Ki profile, “Eight White Soil Star”.

Among these are two fortune-telling almanacs (koyomi 暦), dating from 1995 and 2011 respectively. These almanacs are filled with precise and elaborate octagonal diagrams outlining the lucky and unlucky directions of the compass rose according to one’s “Nine Star Ki” profile—something like a zodiac sign determined by the year of one’s birth—and daily calendars listing the luck predictions for those zodiac signs. The earlier work Heisei 7-nen Takashima-reki 平成七高島暦 [“1995 Takashima almanac”] has a quasi-religious copyright holder (or zōhan 蔵版) declared on the cover: Shinseikan 神正館, perhaps anglicizable as “The Hall of Divine Righteousness”. The latter Heisei 23-nen unseireki 平成二十三年運勢暦, or 2011 Calendar of Good Fortune, on first glance appears to be the work of a more academic institution, Kōzan Rekishokan 黄山歴書館, or the “Huangshan Historical Library”. The names of their editorial bodies are also similar, invoking the family name Takashima. Despite their visual similarity, the economic forces behind the books appear vastly different. The 1995 Takashima-reki is a 32-page book that looks more like a giveaway than anything else; the 2011 Unseireki is an unmistakably commercial publication with a product code and a price of ¥100 published by Daiso, a well-known chain of 100-yen shops.

As with our recent collection of Japanese cruise books, we knew there was a hidden history here, and we immediately set out to acquire more exemplars of these fortune-telling almanacs: 33 in total. Curiously, none of these were published for years earlier than 1946, the first calendar year after Imperial Japan’s surrender to the Allies of World War II. But the history of almanacs in Japan dates back centuries (if not quite millennia).

Along with the increasing spread of print culture in the Edo period (1600-1868), so grew the means to publish calendars of practical information like the months and tides, and of less practical information like which days were lucky for what events. Writing about the illustrated ukiyoe almanacs (egoyomi 絵暦) of the Edo period in a 1929 issue of the Apollo, William H. Edmunds provides the following eurocentric takedown of their content:

[…] how little importance was time in the olden days of Japan. Second or minutes were unknown, […] days pass, but there were no weeks, and the months were just moons, numbered and named after the zodiacal signs, or by fanciful names indicative of a seasonal or festive observance […]. Years were not counted in continuous sequence, but according to certain nengō, or year names, appointed by the Emperors arbitrarily, sometimes to commemorate an auspicious occasion or to ward off some malign influence; hence none could answer off-hand the number of years that had intervened between one period and another.

Assuming the purpose of almanacs is simply to provide the mathematical precision required to calculate dates, then Edmunds is correct in his assessment. But the “fanciful names” and “seasonal observances” are essential to Japanese calendars and their various overlapping customs and superstitions. In a far less judgmental tone, Edmunds notes that official almanacs (honreki 本暦) were published in Ise, the seat of one of Japan’s most important Shinto shrines. Outside of the Ise region, specially licensed printers allowed to produce and distribute these products throughout the country. These honreki, however, did not suit everyone’s purposes. For one, they required a level of literacy not widespread. Secondly, they didn’t include information necessary for certain types of divination necessary for folk customs.

Thus underground presses secretly publishing obakegoyomi お化け暦, or “ghost almanacs” also operated. Some of these ghost almanacs were purely visual for the illiterate, like egoyomi featuring illustrations by the likes of artist Suzuki Harunobu 鈴木春信 (1725?-1770). While Harunobu seems to taken advantage of a period in which publishers of ghost almanacs were tolerated, by the early years of the Meiji period (the mid-1870s), the Japanese government had renewed their commitment to a standardized almanac, this time based on the solar calendar. In eliminating the lunar calendar upon which so much of farm policy and folk custom relied, the Meiji government’s monopoly on calendar production once again invoked the specter of ghost almanacs. Titles like Nōka benran 農家便覧 [“The Farmer’s Handbook”] (1894) bundled in Nine Star Ki and lucky day divination. Publishers like Fukunaga Kahē 福永嘉兵衛—a name as fictitious as it is auspicious—began haunting the world of underground publishing.[1]


Six postwar lucky almanac titles published from 1946 through 1962. Five different publishers are represented.

Six postwar lucky almanac titles published from 1946 through 1962. Five different publishers are represented.

The official adoption of the solar calendar was just one of many steps Japan took to place itself on equal footing with the industrializing West. But modernization didn’t reject the custom and superstition wholesale. In fact, some profited immensely from it. Enter Takashima Kaemon 高島嘉右衛門 (1832-1914), an entrepreneur who would effectively become a patron saint of fortune-telling. Takashima’s lifetime interest in fortune-telling was centered largely around the I Ching, or Book of Changes, and the interpretation of its 64 hexagrams. Takashima profited from his successful predictions, investing heavily in timber before the great earthquake of Ansei 2 [1855]. His fortunes didn’t last long, as heavy debts and his attempts to overcome them through illegal dealings with foreigners landed Takashima in prison for seven years. During his imprisonment, he redoubled his commitment to studying the I Ching. After his release from prison, Takashima’s fortunes once again grew, and he found himself financially supporting the ambitions of men in high places like Itō Hirobumi, a statesman who would go on to become Prime Minister.

Financial support wasn’t Takashima’s only goal. In Meiji 19 [1886] he had self-published a ten-volume edition of his own interpretation on the I Ching called Takashima ekidan 高島易断 [“Takashima’s Judgements on the Book of Changes”]. Several revised editions followed. An English translation, The Takashima ekidan, was published in 1893. The book was clearly a hit, and people of influence sought advice from Japan’s preeminent fortune-teller, who divined everything from cholera outbreaks to colonial upheaval through I Ching cleromancy. In his dual position as industrialist and soothsayer, Takashima never profited directly by selling his fortunes as a trade. His name has become associated with the playful aphorism Uranai wa uranai 占いは売らない: “Fortune-telling is not for sale”.

Continue reading

July 5, 1776

While the Continental Congress gathered in Philadelphia 240 years ago to decide the future of the 13 colonies,  ministers and officials in Lisbon several thousand miles away also met to discuss what to do about the rebellious colonists. Long allied with the British, worried about the example of a rebellious overseas colony, and hoping to enlist greater British military aid against the Spanish, the Portuguese government decided on July 4, 1776 to ban all Portuguese trade to the 13 colonies. The following day, not knowing of the Declaration of Independence on the other side of the Atlantic, the edict was announced publicly and Portugal became one of the first foreign powers to take official action against the colonies [1].

Benjamin Franklin Papers, UPenn Ms. Coll. 900, Box XII, no.1

I had never heard of the Portuguese edict published on July 5th [printed English translation] until I saw a manuscript translation in the collection of Benjamin Franklin’s papers here at Penn. Possibly originating from his time in France as ambassador, the manuscript translation bears the dateline “London Aug. 16 1776” presumably when this particular English translation appeared in  London newspapers, though its exact origin and context is unclear[2]. I was excited then to acquire recently for the libraries one of the printed copies of the Portuguese decree published on July 5th.

Dom José por graça de Deos rey de Portugal…as colonias da America Ingleza por hum acto emanado do congresso…não só se declaráram inteiramente apartadas da sujeição á Coroa da Grão Bretanha (Lisbon, 1776) f1r&v. UPenn copy.

This decree was ordered “to be printed and set up in all public places of Lisbon and the Ports of this Kingdom.” The printed edict survives in at least two different editions today (the JCB, for example holds this variant) providing evidence perhaps of the wide circulation and posting of Royal decrees [3].

Copies of the decree reached London by late July, and one British official sent the British ambassador in France a copy on the 26th [4]. An English translation first appeared in the London press the next day. The decree seems to have first reached American audiences in the fall of 1776 when it was published in newspapers in Philadelphia and elsewhere. The Continental Congress took action by December when they ordered their commissioners in France to approach the Portuguese ambassador as well as offer American support to the Spanish by declaring war on Portugal [5].  In the spring of 1777, Franklin and his colleagues then in Paris on their diplomatic mission, wrote formally to the Portuguese ambassador there to protest the edict and seek its revocation [6]. Interestingly, they began their letter by noting that no official copy of the decree had been sent to the continental congress and that they had seen only newspaper copies, suggesting that the printed edicts like the one above didn’t circulate far outside Portuguese territories.

“The Congress of the United States of America have seen a paper purporting to be an Edict of his Portuguese Majesty, dated at the Palace of Ajuda, the 4th. of July, 1776…But as this Instrument has not been communicated to the Congress with any Circumstance of Authenticity…”

The history of Portuguese-American relations during the Revolution is told in full elsewhere but it Franklin was one of the key players in the diplomatic relationship between the two countries [7]. If he did not already have the manuscript copy now at Penn in 1777, he likely did by 1783 when he was in the midst of negotiating a commercial treaty with Portugal [8]. The Portuguese Crown repealed the 1776 edict on February 15, 1783, officially opening ports to American shipping. Finally, after several tries, a version of Franklin’s proposed treaty was signed by the two countries in 1786.

The spread of this short July 1776 decree, from printed sheets distributed in Lisbon, to newspaper printing in London and America, and then in manuscript to Franklin and others, provides a window on the movement of information and the material forms it took in the larger 18th century Atlantic world.


[1] For the best recent discussion of Portuguese-American relations during the Revolution see Timothy Walker, “Atlantic Dimensions of the American Revolution: Imperial Priorities and the Portuguese Reaction to the North American Bid for Independence (1775-83)” Journal of Early American History 2.3 (2012), 247-285. See page 263 for a discussion of the July 4th/5th edict.

[2] Penn’s collection of Franklin papers were acquired in bulk from the residue of William Temple Franklin’s papers owned by the Fox family at their Champlost estate after the bulk had gone to the American Philosophical Society. They were organized in the early twentieth century and the original context for this document has been lost.  The first translation of the edict I can locate occurs in the London Gazette on July 27, 1776 (issue no. 11686).

[3] Royal decrees and orders appear to have been printed by a variety of different printers in Portugal in a number of different states, take for example these two different printings of a 2 May 1768 decree at Penn: Lea Folio DS135.P7 P712 1768 and KCAJS Folio DS135.P7 P713 1768. The JCB copy of the July 1776 edict is printed on only one side of a sheet and has a different woodcut initial, it is listed in Valeria Gauz, Portuguese and Brazilian books in the John Carter Brown Library 1537 to 1839, (Providence, 2009), 776/4. The newly acquired Penn copy was clearly removed at some point from a sammelband. A third variant very similar to the Penn copy was recently sold at auction in Brazil:

[4] Weymouth to Stormont, 26 July 1776. p. 361 (no. 1341) in B.F. Stevens, Facsimiles of manuscripts in European archives relating to America, 1773-1783. Vol. 13 (London, 1892).

[5] See the Journals of the Continental Congress for 23 December 1776 (pp. 1035-6) and 30 December 1776 (p. 1057). For an early American newspaper printing of the decree according exactly to the English translation in the Franklin papers see the Pennsylvania Evening Post for 21 November 1776.

[6] “The American Commissioners to [the Conde de Sousa Coutinho], 26 April 1777,” [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 23, October 27, 1776, through April 30, 1777, ed. William B. Willcox. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983, no pagination.]

[7] In addition to Walker’s excellent “Atlantic Dimensions of the American Revolution: Imperial Priorities and the Portuguese Reaction to the North American Bid for Independence (1775-83)” see Dauril Alden’s older
“The Marquis of Pombal and the American Revolution” The Americas 17.4 (April 1961), pp. 369-376.

[8] For documents and discussion of Franklin’s role in treaty negotiations see “From Benjamin Franklin to [the Conde de Sousa Coutinho], 7 June 1783,” and “Portuguese Counterproposal for a Treaty of Amity and Commerce, [c. 7 June 1783],” [Original source: The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, vol. 40, May 16 through September 15, 1783, ed. Ellen R. Cohn. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011, no pagination.]

Japanese Naval Cruise Books and the Renshū Kantai


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Some of the Penn Libraries’ unique Japanese holdings, like our set of Okinawan Bibles or our collection of early 20th century pulp historical fiction, are legacy items donated decades ago and just recently rediscovered. Others, like the corporate history resource Mieki (a magazine dedicated to a brand of industrial soy sauce additive), have been purchased specifically for our community of researchers. But rarely do we have the opportunity to work directly with those researchers to acquire bibliographic treasures that document Japanese history.

"Scrap book : Teikoku Renshū Kantai Shōwa 11-nen Tobei Shiryō"

“Scrap book: Teikoku Renshū Kantai Shōwa 11-nen Tobei Shiryō” 帝国練習艦隊昭和十一年渡米資料 (“Resources from the Imperial Training Fleet’s Trip to the Americas, 1936”)

In 2015, Penn Ph.D. candidate Robert Hegwood, a scholar of Japanese/American cultural relations in the mid-20th century, purchased a rather innocuous looking “Scrap Book” at a used book store during a stay in Tokyo. Inside this commercially-produced scrapbook is a collection of postcards, welcome booklets, travel ephemera, and training documents collected by an unidentified Japanese sailor of the Renshū Kantai 練習艦隊, the Japanese Imperial Navy’s Training Fleet, during a 1936 voyage to the United States. From 1903 to 1940, the Renshū Kantai took such training deployment cruises almost every year, with graduates of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy, the Naval Engineering Academy, and the Naval Paymasters Academy spending several months traveling around the Pacific Ocean, occasionally venturing as far as the Mediterranean Sea or the East Coast of the United States. The 1936 cruise (lasting from June 9 to November 3) saw Vice-Admiral Zengo Yoshida commanding the ships Yakumo and Iwate as they sailed across the Pacific Ocean from Yokosuka to Seattle, down along the West Coast and up through the Panama Canal as far as New York City.

Unfolding "Scrap book: Teikoku Renshū Kantai Shōwa 11-nen Tobei Shiryō". Animation and hand modeling courtesy of Chris Lippa.

Unfolding “Scrap book: Teikoku Renshū Kantai Shōwa 11-nen Tobei Shiryō”. Photography and animation courtesy of Chris Lippa.

The scrapbook is a fascinating specimen of early 20th century history and militarism, and of cultural relations between Japanese living in the United States and those in Japan. We just had to find more to contextualize this one-of-a-kind item. After a targeted shopping spree on Nihon no Furuhon’ya, one of the best places to find used and rare Japanese books, we found ourselves in possession of 21 new titles relating to the Renshū Kantai. Most of these are well-preserved “cruise books,” defined in the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms for Library and Archival Materials as “pictorial publications that document a voyage of a particular ship and are distributed to the ship’s crew.” The same record includes a source note that they are “usually amateur in nature.”

Selected pages from USS Marcus Island (CVE 77) World War II Cruise Book, 1944-45, hosted at

Selected pages from USS Marcus Island (CVE 77) World War II Cruise Book, 1944-45, hosted at

This certainly seems true of cruise books produced by ships of US Navy. Thoralf Doehring’s US Navy Cruise Books, a massive digital trove of over 900 US Navy cruise books, asserts that “[t]his tradition dates back to the late 1800s” and that “10,000 different US Navy cruise books have been published.” The oldest item on Doehring’s site is the cruise book of the USS Marcus Island from 1944-1945—right in the thick of World War II—which nevertheless aims not to “cramp anyone’s style when telling ‘sea stories.’” The book is indeed charmingly amateurish and light-hearted, with illustrations and photo layouts not unlike those of a student-produced yearbook.

But the cruise books of the Renshū Kantai are much more official in tone, featuring celebratory calligraphy commissioned for the publication, staid portraits of commanding officers, and decorated gilt edges. The colophons of these books generally lack formal publishing statements in favor of printing statements, a technique common in Japanese self-published works. Many declare themselves hibaihin 非売品—“goods not for sale”. It’s unclear how these books were financed and distributed, but perhaps like shashi, Japanese corporate history books, they were part of the fleet’s budget and even purchased by the sailors themselves as souvenirs.

Cruise books like the 1936 edition are certainly detailed, official-enough records of the Renshū Kantai’s annual itineraries, highlighting milestone events at different ports-of-call with photographs of ceremonies and reprints of speeches of dignitaries. The 1936 book even shows some photographs of the ship’s physician in action, and of a line-crossing ceremony held at the Antimeridian. But these books don’t show the full scope of life on on the sea for newly-minted Japanese Naval cadets. They don’t reprint, for example, selections from “ship newspapers” like the Yakumo Shinbun, an internal newsletter produced in new editions each time a ship was deployed.[1]  They also don’t attempt to capture the experience of being a tourist abroad.

Selected pages from Shōwa Jūichinendo Renshū Kantai Junkō Kinen (1937).

Selected pages from cruise book Shōwa Jūichinendo Renshū Kantai Junkō Kinen (1937). Note the appearances of West Point and Philadelphia’s Independence Hall as tourist destinations during the fleet’s stopover at New York in late summer, 1936.

The 1936 scrapbook, on the other hand, is a snapshot of what might be a typical sailor’s experience as told through ephemera. Picture postcards of scenic and historic sites are interspersed with commercial guidebooks and even mimeographed documents to teach sailors about Cuban culture. Of particular note, are the Japanese-language welcome materials produced by local Japanese associations in the US to celebrate the arrival of the fleet, like Renshū Kantai Kangei Seito Sakubunshū 練習艦隊歡迎生徒作文集—collected student compositions of the Tacoma, Washington Japanese Language School—or Teikoku Renshū Kantai Kangei Kinen 帝国練習艦隊歓迎紀念—a guide to the history of Los Angeles and a directory of Japanese citizens living there.[2]  The bilingual Rafu Shimpo: L.A. Japanese Daily News 羅府新報, released a commemorative number welcoming the Renshū Kantai, also revealing some of the cultural misunderstandings their arrival created. Prominently featured on page one of the July 15, 1936 issue is a brief article about how American women invited to tour the Yakumo and Iwate had mistaken the uniformed sailors as “elevator boys, chauffeurs, and houseboys,” even trying to offer the sailors cash tips.[3]

For many of these Japanese living in the United States, the chance to mingle with compatriots from abroad would be irresistible, as the Immigration Act of 1924 had prohibited Japanese immigration to the US. Barred from citizenship because of their race and separated from their homeland by the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, local Japanese gave the best welcome they could to the men of the Renshū Kantai. These enclaves of the Japanese in the US, in fact, almost appear as quasi-colonies in the Renshū Kantai’s cruise books. Los Angeles is often represented in Chinese characters as “Rafu” 羅府, and San Francisco as “Sōkō” 桑港, somewhat akin to how the Japanese Empire had redubbed Seoul, Korea as “Keijō” 京城.

"Welcome Midshipmen of the Japanese Training Squadron". Headline from the Californian newspaper Rafu Shimpo, July 15, 1936.

“Welcome Midshipmen of the Japanese Training Squadron”. Headline from the Californian newspaper Rafu Shimpo, July 15, 1936. Image courtesy of Robert Hegwood; original material from the Kasai Family Papers held at UCLA Library.

These fledgling cultural colonies were soon to be abandoned by their empire. The year 1936 would be the last visit of the Renshū Kantai to the continental United States, though the Iwate and Yakumo would return to the pre-statehood Hawaiian Islands in late 1939 in the fleet’s penultimate cruise. The final voyage of the fleet occurred between August 7 and September 28 of 1940, concluding just one day after the Tripartite Pact was signed by Germany, Italy, and Japan. With the Axis now fully tilted against the Allies, there was no time for training cruises or tourist scrapbooking for Japan’s naval forces.

Meanwhile, many of the Japanese who had so warmly welcomed their compatriots in previous decades would soon become prisoners of war, stripped of their property and placed in internment camps—citizens of nowhere. While the imprisonment of Japanese and Japanese-Americans is a dark and shameful chapter in American history, those interned were far from broken. They even compiled scrapbooks of their own experiences, like the Kooskia Internment Camp Scrapbook held at the University of Idaho Library.

After Japan’s defeat at the end of the Pacific War, the Navy and its Training Fleet were officially abolished, with Japan renouncing “war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as a means of settling international disputes” in Article 9 of the 1947 Constitution. This did not, however, prohibit the creation of a well-trained military force for defense purposes, and in 1954 the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force, or Kaijō Jieitai 海上自衛隊, was formally established. This new not-quite-Navy has its own “Renshū Kantai,” which as of this blog post’s publication is on its 60th voyage. Their 20th anniversary publication, Enkō Nijūnenshi 遠航二十年史 (“Twenty Years of Voyages”), makes no reference to their imperial predecessor, rewriting the history of Japan’s military presence on the seas as one of a peacekeeping force. The Penn Libraries, however, will continue to expand this unique collection, and make the history of the Renshū Kantai accessible for generations to come.

Continue reading