Frederick Justen and L’Eclipse: the early 20th c. donation of 1870-71 Franco-Prussian caricatures and satirical magazines to Cambridge UL

Six large volumes of around 1100 caricatures of 1870-71 (KF.3.9-14), digitised by Cambridge Digital Content Unit, with funding by Cambridge Digital Humanities, have just been made available on our Digital Library. This digitisation was enabled through a research project coinciding with the 150th anniversary of the Franco-Prussian war and focusing on collections of French and German caricatures produced at the time which were brought to the UK shortly afterwards. While beginning to investigate the 1870-71 caricatures collection, I wondered about the role and evidence for the contribution of the bookseller Frederick Justen (1832-1906), who we know played a key role in assembling and bringing to the UK several collections of 1870-71 caricatures (see the articles by Daniels, 2005 and Müller, 2011-12).

Justen, German-born, and possibly of French Huguenot descent, came to England in 1851 as a German assistant for the booksellers Dulau & Co in Soho (London). Later on, he became head of the Dulau business. Justen not only collected and assembled vast amounts of 1870-71 French and German caricatures and newspapers, but also curated this material, producing several sets of large bound volumes entitled Collection de caricatures et de charges pour servir à l’histoire de la guerre et de la révolution de 1870-1871 (such as Cambridge UL KF.3.9-14) that he ordered thematically and for which his company printed special title pages (as noted in a cutting from The Athenaeum featured below). If Justen can be identified with the “junior partner” at the Dulau firm responsible for the binding of the volumes of caricatures, we can only wonder about the identity of the “strong anti-Bonapartist” collector through whom Dulau obtained the caricatures, and his role in the nature and arrangement of the caricatures material… (Athenaeum, §3)

 

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Collection de caricatures et de charges pour servir à l’histoire de la guerre et de la révolution de 1870-1871. Vol. 1. (KF.3.9)

These sets were later sold or donated to different institutions, up to the 1880s: the British Library (at least 10 vols), the Victoria & Albert Museum (10 vols), Heidelberg University Library (9 vols), Cambridge University Library (6 vols) and the Bodleian Library (1 vol.). Frustratingly, the Cambridge volumes, which include the distinctive title page created by Justen, and whose bindings are identical to the British Library ones, do have a donation label pasted on their front endpaper, but neither the name of the donor nor the date of the donation had been filled. When I first examined Cambridge University donation records from the 1870s, I was not able to find an entry for the six-volume Franco-Prussian caricatures set.

Cutting from The Athenaeum (Journal of English and foreign literature, science, the fine arts, music and the drama), dated 26 October 1872, in KF.3.9, p. 5

However, while looking at other 1870-71 material held in Cambridge University Library for a forthcoming exhibition on Franco-Prussian printed material that I will curate with Professor Nick White in May-June 2021, I discovered that we hold other items related to this period, and evidence of Justen’s direct involvement. The newspaper cutting from The Athenaeum (Journal of English and foreign literature, science, the fine arts, music and the drama), dated 26 October 1872, which features at the beginning of the first volume in the Cambridge and the Heidelberg caricatures sets, described the availability for sale of a six-volume Franco-Prussian caricatures set. If the set later donated by Justen to the UL was in six volumes, based on the description of its content, a better match for the set referenced in the article might be the caricatures collection now held at the Hill Memorial Library of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, which had belonged to the 19th c. British collector John Crichton-Stuart, 3rd Marquess of Bute. They were accompanied by a three-volume set of newspaper clippings about Napoleon III prefaced by Justen. The article from The Athenaeum also referred to related material in contemporary (illustrated) French newspapers and magazines, including “a perfect set” of L’Eclipse: “In L’Eclipse, we have a complete series of a comic journal, extending through the last years of the empire and down to the present day” (KF.3.9, p. 5).

Binding and donation label of L’Eclipse (Syn.1.86.1)

As it turns out, the UL does hold two large bound volumes covering nine years of the weekly illustrated French magazine L’Eclipse, with a donation label inscribed “F. Justen Esq., 1906” (Syn.1.86.1-2). It runs from January 1868 to June 1876, but L’Eclipse stopped publication after the French defeat and through the Paris Commune, between October 1870 and May 1871.

Cambridge UL Donations registers (ULIB 7/1/56, vol. 9, 1905-1906)

I was then able to look again in our Donations registers (ULIB 7/1/56, vol. 9, 1905-1906), and I did find for March 1906 an entry for the donation by Justen, not only of L’Eclipse, but of other sets of satirical periodicals, and, above all, of the six volumes of caricatures with which my enquiry started: it was indeed the first item listed. The other satirical journals donated by Justen were La Lanterne (for 1868-69, Syn.8.86.101-), as well as Le Père Duchêne, Le Fils du Père Duchêne and Le Père Fouettard (for 1871, Syn.5.87.106, Syn.5.87.63,93 and Syn.5.87.107). He also donated three volumes entitled “Napoléon III et la caricature anglaise, 1848-72”, Syn.2.87.7-,  with a wider time-span; and eight volumes entitled “Pio Nono e la Stampa contemporanea”, KF.3.1- (the Papal States, no longer protected by Napoleon III and the French army at the time of the Franco-Prussian war, were invaded and annexed by the Italian army in September 1870). This wider interest in the troubled European politics of the later 19th century was also reflected by his donation, a few months before, of a collection of 33 volumes of “books, pamphlets and illustrated newspapers relating to the Spanish revolution of 1868-72” (Syn.1.87.4-; Syn.1.87.10; Syn.1.87.7-; Syn.1.87.9 etc.) : the “Glorious Revolution” led to the deposition of Queen Isabella II in 1868; the establishment of a constitutional monarchy led by King Amadeo I in 1870 was succeeded by the First Spanish Republic in 1873.

Cambridge UL Donations registers (ULIB 7/1/56, vol. 9, 1905-1906)

Detailed entry for the Justen donation in the 1905 Annual report, in Cambridge University Library Syndicate records (GBR/0265/UA/ULIB 1/1, p. 25)

Dulau & Co was a regular supplier to the UL: the Ledger A for book purchases, ULIB 11/2/4, running from 1897 to 1920, shows weekly or monthly deliveries of books and periodicals that the firm supplied to the library. The trade with the company continued after Justen’s death in 1906. As the donation to the UL dated from 1906, we initially thought that it came as his bequest, but the donations took place in January and March 1906, several months before he passed away, in November.

Cambridge UL, Ledger A for book purchases, ULIB 11/2/4, Dulau & Co, 1903-1907

Justen must have had good ongoing relations with the different institutions he supplied and to which he sold or donated his caricatures sets. He was indeed a major provider of foreign (scientific) publications to several other UK-based museums and libraries, including the British Museum, over a number of years. There is significant 1870-71 material, with several caricatures sets and contemporary volumes of press cuttings (including Napoléon III et la caricature anglaise and Pio Nono e la Stampa contemporanea), now at the British Library. It seems that recorded donations from Justen to the BL happened on several occasions and earlier than the ones to Cambridge UL.

L’Eclipse, 1872, Title page and index of plates (Syn.1.86.2)

As for the two bound volumes of L’Eclipse (1868-1876) now at the UL (Syn.1.86.1-2), a notable feature is the fact that as for the caricatures set, they include a title page (for each year of the publication), followed by an index of all the “caricatures et dessins” published that year. Justen’s caricature sets, though they don’t include a list of plates, thus echo the sets designed for collectors by press publishers. The last issue of the first series of L’Eclipse, no 400, dated 25 juin 1876, was aptly introduced by an illustration by Gill of “Les métamorphoses de L’Eclipse”, which is also the title of the Foreword. In the new series, it is advertised that “CHAQUE ANNÉE DE L’ECLIPSE, Revue Comique Illustrée, FORMERA UN SUPERBE VOLUME AVEC TITRES & TABLES” (p. 4); indeed, l’Eclipse aimed to offer to its readers “l’histoire comique de l’année » (p. 2). The major role played by collectors in the newspaper’s audience appears in the advertisement for the deluxe edition of the new series, claiming to satisfy the demands of (wealthy) collectors by offering a superior product: “Pour satisfaire au désir exprimé par un grand nombre de lecteurs, il est tiré une edition de luxe de L’ECLIPSE, sur très-beau et très-fort papier…” (p. 4). Subscribers would receive an additional printed bonus: « les abonnés… recevront gratuitement, au fur et à mesure de la publication des séries, l’ouvrage à succès du moment: Quatrevingt-treize, par VICTOR HUGO, illustré de très-belles gravures » (p. 4).

The administrators of l’Eclipse glossed over the editorial change “il n’y aura rien de changé dans le journal, il n’y aura que quatre pages de plus” (p. 2), however, the editor-in-chief, F. Polo, stepped down, and the new series, starting in July 1876, adopted a smaller format and new layout, with eight pages instead of four, printed in two columns instead of three, with additional illustrations spread out throughout the text, and a full page image placed on page 5 rather than on the first page. The issue of 25 June justified the change by the demands of the many collectors who complained about the impracticality of a large format for binding and shelving:

Last issue of the first series of l’Eclipse, no 400, 25 juin 1876 (Cambridge, Syn.1.86.2 and Heidelberg University Library)

The administrators of l’Eclipse glossed over the editorial change “il n’y aura rien de changé dans le journal, il n’y aura que quatre pages de plus” (p. 2), however, the editor-in-chief, F. Polo, stepped down, and the new series, starting in July 1876, adopted a smaller format and new layout, with eight pages instead of four, printed in two columns instead of three, with additional illustrations spread out throughout the text, and a full page image placed on page 5 rather than on the first page. The issue of 25 June justified the change by the demands of the many collectors who complained about the impracticality of a large format for binding and shelving:

…Les collectionneurs, et Dieu merci! ils sont nombreux, ne cessent de nous bombarder de réclamations fondées sur la double difficulté de faire relier élégamment et de loger en bonne place, dans des rayons de bibliothèque, les numéros de l’Eclipse sous son format actuel (p. 2)

The administrators claimed they were certain of “doubling the number of their collectors” by adopting a format “advisable to binders and bibliophiles” (p. 2). By choosing this smaller format, they explicitly followed the model of Punch, the famous British weekly humorous and satirical magazine (a statement repeated in the advertisement for subscriptions to the new series on page 4). This also inspired the change of l’Eclipse’s subtitle from “journal hebdomadaire” to “revue comique illustrée”.

First issue of the second series of L’Eclipse, dated 2 juillet 1876 (Cambridge, Syn.1.86.2 and Heidelberg University Library)

The volumes of L’Eclipse collected and donated by Justen to Cambridge, along with his creation of several key sets of Franco-Prussian caricatures, thus reflect a wider trend in the publishing and collecting of satirical illustrated material, both in France and across the Channel: the making of ephemeral, popular publications into deluxe collectible items which could become prized collection material. However, if the publishers of L’Eclipse saw this new trend for collecting as a commercial opportunity, the donations by Justen of sets of 1870-71 caricatures, satirical journals and press cuttings to the British Library in the 1870s and 1880s and to Cambridge UL as late as 1906 may indicate that at the time, his enterprise maybe did not meet in England the commercial success he was hoping for.

Irène Fabry-Tehranchi

References:

Morna Daniels, “Caricatures from the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and the Paris Commune”, The Electronic British Library Journal, 2005.

Bettina Müller, “The Collection of French Caricatures in Heidelberg: The English Connection”, French Studies Library Group Annual Review, 8 (2011-2012), p. 39-42.

Digitisations of L’Eclipse:

Paris: BNF, Gallica

Heidelberg University Library

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