Philadelphia: Johnston and Coulston, March 11, 1880.
First edition. The author/artist's own copy. Signed by Johnston on the portrait and additionally signed and dated Camden, June 25, 1891 on the front endpaper. Woodcut portrait frontispiece, signed in ink by Johnston and dated March 1, 1880. Calligraphic title printed ink blue purple and red inks by G. W. Leids, 128 leaves printed by hectograph recto only including numerous drawings after various artists of Johnston's "Studio". 2 vols. 8vo. Printed in Hectograph and with Original Contributions by Walt Whitman. Contemporary half morocco and cloth boards, spine with raised bands lettered in gilt, Col. John R. Johnston stamped in gilt on the upper cover, top edge gilt, others uncut, marbled endpapers. Minor wear at joints and corners OCLC: 52391633 (Duke, Houston Public). Not in BAL or Meyerson. Item #325541
The hektograph printing process, was introduced in the late 1870s, and involved the use of inks, gelatin and water, and manual manipulation of printed sheets (a few pages have slight smudges or fingerprint marks, reflecting the challenges with the process). Drawings or handwriting made with special inks, usually purple in color, are wet transferred onto gelatin coated sheets to create a negative, from which a new sheet can be pressed to received the ink. The number of usable impressions made from each negative is thus extremely small.
Artist John R. Johnston (1825-1895) was born in Cincinnati. He studied art with Frederick Franks, and with muralist Henry Lewis; in 1848 he helped paint Lewis's "Mammoth Panorama of the Mississippi" (a one-thousand-foot panorama), and, in 1849, he collaborated with Edwin Forrest Durang on "A Panorama of the Bible." He moved to Baltimore in 1856, continuing work as a portrait painter, a photographic colorist (and photographer), and eventually moved to Camden, New Jersey, and opened a studio in Philadelphia, where he painted landscapes and still lifes.
The studio, which is humorously documented in this work became a gathering point for Philadelphia area artists, politicians and literary figures, including Walt Whitman. Indeed Johnston and his family socialized with Walt Whitman, frequently having Sunday dinner together. Scholar Ruth L. Bohan discusses the close friendship between Johnston and Whitman, stating (in part): "Johnston and his wife and two children hosted Whitman on a regular basis becoming like a second family to him" [cf 'Looking into Walt Whitman: American Art, 1850-1920,' p. 46].
An introductory page of 'The Studio Souvenir' whimsically lists the "Studio Staff," as follows: "Chief, Col. John R. Johnston/ Lieut. Gen., Geo. C. Price/ Marshal Jos. Berry/ Atty Gen Jeremiah Black/ Treasurer A. L. Drexel/ Commissary B. F. Shedaker/ Surgeon Gen Dr. J. M. Ridge/ Chaplain T. B. Coulston/ Chief of Old Pensioners A. J. Shallenberger/ Poet Laureate Walt Whitman / Asst Attorney Wm A. Hoyt." Following the list of "Studio Staff" is a leaf listing the names of twenty-four "Attendants" to the Chief
The "Contents" page which follows states: "This little volume contains 'original' sketches by many of the leading Artists in the world, biographies of my personal friends who visit the Studio. The Artists Sketches embrace the distinguished names of Calback, Dore, Sonntag, J. H. Beard, Moran, Dyke Erringer, Hitchcock, McLellan, Park Crayon, Washington, Kensett, Louis Lang, Edwards, Bartolomie, Baracco, Guillot, Almandin and many others known to fame. I have had this collection for many years. It will serve as a little Souvenir for my friends. The Author."
The work includes a three-page autobiography of Johnston, along with humorous biographical information about Johnston's "Staff" (presumably written entirely by Johnston), including Geo. C. Price, Joseph Berry, Thomas D. Coulston, A. J. Shellenberger, B. F. Shedaker, John H. Wilson, W. H. Peeples, Andrew S. Tompkinson, Charles H. Bleezard, Dr. J. M. Ridge, Dr. Albert P. Brown, William R. Warner, Charles E. Shedaker, James H. Dewey, Charles Stokes M. D., William Coulston, William A. Hoyt, John R. Johnston, Jr. (son of artist John R. Johnston), Col. Alexander, George Welm, Sam D. Locke, Ferd La Gierse, James Buchanan (Born 1838 in Country Donegal), Edwin S. Conner, "The Phrenologist Tramp", and two full-page texts signed and dated by Walt Whitman.
Whitman is mentioned on the following pages of 'The Studio Souvenir':
1) On "Studio Staff" introductory page, Walt Whitman is listed as: "Poet Laureate Walt Whitman"
2) A section of biographies, devoted to members of the "Studio Staff," has a four-page satirical account of a visit of "The Phrenologist Tramp", Liam O’Cousin, and records the size of heads (“Walt Whitman 52 oz", i.e. above average). [Whitman, from 1846, had a serious interest in phrenology.]
3). Autograph note in purple hektograph: “Feb 1 ’80 Loafing around for a couple of hours this fine sunny crispy day ... look’s in at my friend Col. Johnston’s studio, the sun shining bright & I feeling all right, Walt Whitman” [Whitman Archive ID: yal.00428]
4) Leaf headed: "Witnesses Here unto:" with Walt Whitman's signature in purple hektograph, followed by the hektographed signatures of John R. Johnston, W. H. Peeples, and T. D. Coulston]
5) Autograph letter from Walt Whitman in purple hektograph, 1 page, Camden, N.J. / at 434 Dean Street/ Sunday Evening/ Feb 15th '80/ [15 lines, beginning]: “Another fresh, Dear, social evening here, with Col., & Mrs. Johnston, & Ida, & John (an evening same as I have had, over & over again for six years)... I shall be 61 years old — I have just returned from a four months' trip to the Rocky Mts ... Am well for me — Walt Whitman.”
6) Leaf with various statements of praise for 'The Studio Souvenir' (printed in purple hektograph). The first statement is signed by Walt Whitman: "It compares well with 'Addison's Spectator' — Walt Whitman."
7) Another leaf with various statements about 'The Studio Souvenir' and John R. Johnston (printed in purple hecktograph). The last statement on the page is signed (in purple hecktograph) by Walt Whitman: "Nothing does me more good than to have a little shakeup with the boys of the Studio. Walt Whitman."
Artist John R. Johnston's personal copy, with his name stamped in gilt on front cover: "Col. John R. Johnston." Signed, and dated, by the artist on second blank front flyleaf: "John R. Johnston/ Camden/ June 25/91." Following the contents leaf is a preliminary printed page which has the following statement by Johnston: "Note of Thanks. I am indebted to Mr. M. N. R. Styles, the agent of the Hektograph Co., for his kindness in furnishing me one of his mediums for transferring these valuable sketches to paper. I think it one of the most useful inventions of its kind in use. Studio. John R. Johnston. Phila. Feb. 1880."
Due to limitations of the hectograph printing technique, an estimated 20 to 80 copies of this publication could have been produced of any single illustration or page of text, printed from an individual hektographed master sheet for each page; given that the text exceeds 100 pages, presumably only a few dozen copies of the complete book could practically be expected to have been produced (due to spoilage, caused by limitations of printing individual pages by hectograph). 'The Studio Souvenir' seems to have been privately issued by the artist, for presentation to those who frequented the studio.
OCLC records two copies and suggests an edition of 36
[Together with]: An autograph album owned by Jane Florence Connor (daughter of John Henry Connor) and containing two original watercolors by artist John R. Johnston as well as ink drawings and calligraphy, 1877-1883, including numerous autographs of Philadelphia-area friends of the Connor family, some with family names connected to John R. Johnston's circle (including artist John R. Johnston and his son John R. Johnston Jr., two members of the Coulston family et al).
The ultimate copy of an extremely scarce title.
Price: $85,000.00 Free International Delivery