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When it comes to antiques, what period in US history do you find the most fascinating?
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French and Indian War
Revolutionary War
Civil War
Modern Period
Early Exploration
French and Indian War
Revolutionary War
Civil War
Modern Period

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War of 1812 manuscript map after Shelton and Kensett, ~1825

A most unusual patriotic manuscript map by an American child. Unfinished and as such raising intriguing questions.

In the 18th and 19th centuries map copying was an important method of geographic education at the primary level, and “schoolboy-” and “schoolgirl maps” are frequently encountered on the market. The great majority are unadorned and relatively pedestrian, but this example is remarkable for being based on a rare and intricate War of 1812 map issued in Connecticut by Shelton and Kensett.

The map depicts the United States including much of the recently-obtained Louisiana Territory, as well as parts of British Canada and Spanish-owned Florida. State boundaries are shown, as are river systems in considerable detail, and some mountain ranges are shaded in with what appears to be charcoal. Few place names are given, including those of the New England states and the Great Lakes (more on this in a moment). The map’s great charm lies in the large eagle surmounting the title and the ten tiny vignettes depicting sea battles of the War of 1812, all copied from Shelton & Kensett. These include several iconic American victories, among them the USS Constitution’s destruction of the HMS Guerriere in August 1812 and Java in December of that year, along with Oliver Hazzard Perry’s Sept. 10, 1813 victory at the Battle of Lake Erie. They also include notable but heroic defeats, among them the loss of the USS Chesapeake after sailing out of Boston Harbor to meet a challenge issued by the captain of HMS Shannon. While other maps were published in the United States during the conflict, that by Shelton and Kensett was the only one to feature such patriotic imagery.

The map omits quite a bit of material that is present on the Shelton and Kensett prototype, most notably long panels of text at the left, right and bottom. Indeed, a closer look reveals that the manuscript is unfinished, lacking for example most place names, captions under several of the vignettes, and the latter half of the title. This no doubt explains why the map is neither signed nor dated. One would expect that, having invested so much effort, the artist would have carried the project through to completion. We will of course never know, but perhaps the school term came to an end, perhaps the family moved west, or perhaps the young person fell ill or passed away.

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A spectacular chromolithographic temperance poster / EFFECT OF ALCOHOLIC DRINKS AND NARCOTICS ON THE HUMAN SYSTEM, 1910

A spectacular chromolithographic poster illustrating the baneful effects of alcohol and tobacco, issued just as the Temperance movement was nearing its apogee.

This colorful piece of work is in essence a pictorial table, with four columns of images illustrating the exterior appearance and internal organs of, from left to right, “The Healthy,” “The moderate drinker,” “the chronic drunkard,” and a drinker far gone “in delirium.” The large scale and vivid chromolithography render many of the images both horrifying and memorable. Below these are, among other things, portraits of a “Healthy Boy” juxtaposed with a “Cigarette Smoker,” images showing the effects of tobacco use on the organs (including a particularly gnarly-looking tongue), and a lumberman apparently drinking his wages away after a day at work. At the very bottom are statistics related to alcohol use, along with an explanation of “Where many a Workingman’s money goes,” and the following gem from the world of “alternative facts:”

“Half the idiots in the world are the children of drunkards. More than half the insanity is due to alcohol, while it produces four out of every five of our paupers and nine out of every ten of the criminals with which our prisons are crowded, and the misery and wretchedness which it brings are not only upon those who use it, but upon their parents wives and children are beyond all calculation.”
This poster was issued in 1910, as the Temperance movement was reaching its height of influence in the United States. Note that the organs of even the moderate drinker showing signs of damage, such as “contracted or “hob nail” liver” and “bronchial cararrh,” implicitly denying the possibility of moderate, safe and enjoyable consumption of alcohol. This reflects the absolutist, pro-abstinence views of organizations such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, views which ultimately led to the passage of the 18th Amendment in 1920.

The publisher is listed as J. F. Dreisbach & Co. of Kansas City. The only possible match I have found is one Joseph F. Dreisbach listed in the Kansas City Directory for 1911 and 1912. In both years his occupation is listed as “trav” (traveling salesman?), and in 1912 he is described as employed by the Von Engeln School Supply Co. Nowhere have I found mention of a J. F. Dreisbach & Co.

I have found another poster, under the title Hardacre’s Temperance Map Illustrating the Effect of Alcoholic Drinks and Narcotics on The Human System, published around 1903 by F.C. Hardacre of Vincennes, Indiana. That version is entirely similar in overall layout and text, but the individual images differ quite substantially. Both versions are extraordinarily rare: I find only two examples of the Hardacre version, at the Western Illinois Museum and New York City’s landmark James Brown House, and no institutional holdings of our version.

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An exquisite 18th-century “love token” (late 1700s)

An intricate and exquisite illustrated love token, probably American and possibly by a late-18th-century New England artist.

The token is executed on a single sheet of laid paper slightly more than one foot square. It was designed to be folded intricately to form a small “puzzle purse” roughly 4″ square-an 18th-century version of a “self mailer.” When folded one side of the sheet serves as the covers, the front featuring a central panel bearing an illustration of a rose and a bit of introductory verse: “On the inside sweet turtle dove / I write the mortal of my love / The power of envy can’t pretend / To say that I false lines have penn’d.” The back features a heart at the center, with a bit of verse that serves as both invitation and accusation: “My love this heart which you behold / will break when you these lines unfold / Even so my heart with love sick pain / Sore wounded is and rent in twain.” By unfolding the packet the recipient literally breaks the central heart image in four, thus “rending” the suitor’s heart once again.

The other side of the sheet forms the interior of the token. Signed “E.W.,” it features twelve pieces of verse, numbered and meant to be read in sequence. It is difficult to piece together a narrative arc or be certain about the nature of the relationship, but it seems that E.W. has left for a “far distant” place after tendering unsuccessfully a proposal of marriage to the recipient. The tone is certainly Romantic-in the “big R” sense of the term-and filled with assurances that E.W.’s life depends on his love being requited.

“1 Thou art / the Girl and only Maid / That hath my Tender / Heart Betray’d.”
“2 If you refuse / to be my wife / You will betray me / of my Life.”
“3 Pale death at last / Shall stand my Friend / And bring my sorrows / to an End.”
“4 So I rest your / Lamenting Lover / Till your answer does / me recover.”

Each verse element is attended by an appropriate illustration. So for example verse 5 (“Bright sun with all thy glorious rays / Shine on my love in all her ways”) is surmounted by a large polychrome sun. Verse 12 begins “May Heavenly Angles [sic] their swift wings display / And be your guard in every dangerous way” and is flanked by a pair of winged angels.

At least some of the verse closely resembles that on an American love token sold by Christies in 1999. The aesthetic, in particular the use of the winged angels (“soul effegies”), suggests that the piece is of American origin, possibly by a New England artist. The use of laid paper, the clothing of the two figures, and the handwriting all tend toward a dating of late-18th or very early in the 19th century.

A particularly attractive example of an early token, in fresh condition and with a profusion of text and images executed in vivid primary colors.

See the love:

#valentines #valentinesday #happyvalentine #love

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The Porcineograph … one nation, united in pork, 1876

A triumph of the imagination with a place on my personal “top ten” list. This Porcineograph brings together in one image considerable wit, stunning design, hygienic hog farming, and post-war reconciliation between the Union and Confederacy. It is also one of the earliest American pictorial maps and a considerable rarity, particularly in such marvelous condition.

The Porcineograph features a central map depicting the United States as a pig, with the snout at Maine and two legs represented by the peninsulas of Florida and Baja. A third leg rests on Cuba, drawn in the shape of a sausage, and the fourth on the Sandwich Islands, drawn of course as a cluster of sandwiches. The “GEHOGRAPHY,” as the author refers to it, is surrounded by the seals of the states and the names of their favored pork-based dishes. Two vignettes at lower left and right illustrate events—both involving pigs–that resulted in litigation or legislation that changed the course of American history.

The map was designed as a keepsake by one William Emerson Baker (1828-1888),

“whose successful Grover & Baker Sewing Machine Company produced accessibly-priced units for home use, retired in 1868 at the age of forty. He moved to a large farm in Needham, Mass., which he transformed into an amusement park full of attractions and exhibits that expressed his radical political viewpoints.

“In the mid-1870s, Baker’s activist heart turned to the nascent Pure Food Movement, which lobbied for stricter regulations on food producers…. Baker became obsessed with hygienic farming. In 1875, he held a big party, with 2,500 attendees, to launch his “Sanitary Piggery,” a new kind of hog farm featuring ultra-clean housing and controlled diets. Because Baker was a man of many causes, the get-together also celebrated the centennial of the battle at Bunker Hill, and, through the invitation of Southern guests, advocated reconciliation of North and South.

“This map, which focused on the porcine aspect of the party, was a souvenir for his guests.” (Rebecca Onion, “An Eccentric Millionaire’s 1875 Pork Map of the United States”)
The souvenir seems must have been a hit, as Emerson went on to issue a variant edition for sale to benefit charitable causes. This variant, of which the present map is an example, features different typography and can be readily identified by the addition of a note in the lower margin:

“Yielding to numerous requests, the Author has decided to publish this as a good-cheer offering to all. Gains from its sale will be devoted entirely to charity.—Recognised organizations in different States, desiring its sale in aid of Centennial or other charity, may address “Aquarium, 13 West street, Boston, Mass. Copyright secured.”

As of February 2017 OCLC locates five institutional holdings of the Porcineograph (Harvard, Library of Congress, Massachusetts Historical Society, Ohio State, Peabody Essex Museum.) I know of at least five examples in four private collections, none of whose owners are minded to sell!

See all the pork:

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A sea serpent off Cape Ann!, 1817

A delightful and extremely rare engraving of a sea serpent sighted in 1817 off Gloucester, Massachusetts.

In August of 1817 reports began to circulate of a great serpent sighted in Gloucester Harbor and around Cape Ann. They caused a sensation, with dozens of reports appearing in the local press. The Boston Weekly Messenger for August 21 reported for example that

“He is declared by some persons… to be 60 or 70 feet in length, round, and of the diameter of a barrel. Others state his length variously, from 50 to 100 feet. His motions are serpentine, extremely varied, and exceedingly rapid…. He appears to be full of joins and resembles a string of buoys on a net rope, as set in the water to catch herring. Others describe him as like a string of water casks….. Various attempts have been made, without success, to take him. Four boats went out on Thursday, filled with adventurous sailors and experienced gunners, armed with muskets, harpoons, &c. Three muskets were discharged at him, from a distance of 30 feet, two balls were thought to strike his head, but without effect.”
The sightings inspired several engravings produced for popular consumption, including this delightful image of Gloucester Harbor as seen from the east. The serpent occupies most of the foreground, with the town visible in the far distance. The creature itself is rather more comical than fearsome, resembling a cross between a sea serpent, a bird, and a pinecone. Nonetheless rowing toward it are several boats packed with citizens armed with guns, spears, gaffs, and boat hooks. The image is extraordinarily rare, and I have been able to locate but one other impression, held by the American Antiquarian Society.

Neither the original artist nor the engraver are named, and I find no ads in the period press shedding light on their identities or offering more information on publishers Lane and How. The image is printed on wove paper watermarked “T G & Co.” This was manufactured by pioneering paper makers Thomas and Joshua Gilpin, who from 1787 to 1837 operated a mill on Brandywine Creek north of Wilmington, Delaware. (Gravell, American Watermarks, PM-82 and fig. 914)

There exist at least two other period engravings of the serpent, both very different from that offered here. The Boston Athenaeum holds “A correct view of the town and outer harbor of Gloucester and the appearance of the sea serpent,” said to be based on a sketch by one Captain John Beach, Jr. This depicts a leaner, more fearsome serpent within yards of the shoreline. I also find an engraving of the “Monstrous Sea Serpent as Seen at Cape Ann,” larger and more fearsome still, a small reproduction of which may be viewed here.

The Gloucester sea monster met with a very mixed response. On the one hand, the New England Linnaean Society in all seriousness appointed a committee to conduct an investigation. The committee solicited written testimony, took depositions, and examined reports of sightings elsewhere in the world. Above all, it examined the corpse of a strange sea animal washed up weeks later on the Gloucester shore, smaller than the purported serpent but similar in other respects. Its final report ultimately concluded that the two creatures were examples of an entirely new genus, which it denominated Scoliophis Atlanticus.

On the other hand, the sightings, and the seriousness with which they were taken by some in the scientific community, were elsewhere met with extreme ridicule. For example, poet William Crafts of South Carolina was provoked to publish in 1819 the verse farce The Sea Serpent, or Gloucester Hoax. A Dramatic Jeu d’Esprit, in Three Acts!

See the monster up close!:

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Cyprian Southack’s chart of the New England coast, 1731

An important chart based on the work of Cyprian Southack, one of Boston’s most colorful early figures.

A Correct Map of the Coast of New England depicts the northeast coast from Sandy Hook to the southern edge of Cape Breton. It provides much information on soundings, banks and shoals, and other navigational hazards, particularly in the waters off Nova Scotia and Cape Cod. The coastal geography is rather haphazard, immediately noticeable in the depictions of Boston’s Shawmut peninsula and an attenuated Long Island. Worth noting is the strait shown running through Cape Cod in the area of present-day Eastham: in the 18th century this was at high water a navigable passage, through which Southack himself had sailed. The appearance and utility of the chart are enhanced by a large and detailed chart of Boston Bay and Harbor at upper left.

This chart is important as a reduced version of the unobtainable New England Coasting Pilot (ca. 1719-30), Cyprian Southack’s heroically-scaled, 8-sheet chart of the waters from New York Bay to Nova Scotia. Southack (1662-1745) was a Boston-based sea captain, privateer and map- and chart maker. During his eventful life he was involved in campaigns against the French in Nova Scotia, Quebec and Maine; engaged in diplomatic missions related to the ongoing wars with France; was commissioned to oversee the salvage of the wrecked pirate ship Whydah, sunk off Cape Cod in 1717; advocated for development of the Nova Scotia fisheries; and produced a number of highly important maps and charts. Along with the Coasting Pilot, the most famous of these was A New Chart of the English Empire in North America (1717), the first chart engraved on copper in the colonies.

This chart appeared in editions of The English Pilot. Fourth Book between 1732 and 1760, though after 1745 the date “1731” in the cartouche was erased. The Pilot was originally developed by the London publisher John Seller, who conceived it as an effort to break the Dutch monopoly on chart publication. While the two-volume first edition focused on European waters, later editions achieved worldwide coverage, with the Fourth Book focusing on the Americas first appearing in 1689. During its publication history of over a century, the Fourth Book went through 37 editions. Presumably supported by its strong “brand,” it continued to be re-issued even well after far more valuable atlases such as Sayer and Bennett’s North American Pilot and Des Barres’ Atlantic Neptune became available.

It is not clear that Cyprian Southack himself actually drew this reduced edition of his New England Coasting Pilot. While McCorkle credits Southack, Baynton-Williams cites only Mount & Page as publishers, and Le Gear does not include it in her list of Southack productions. A similar chart, titled A Map of the Coast of New England from Staten Island to the Island of Breton, signed by Southack and much more detailed, was first issued separately around 1735 and then appeared in the English Pilot from 1775 through 1789 or possibly later.

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A Second World War Newsmap commenting on the veracity of Newsmaps! 1942

A remarkable Newsmap published by the U.S. War Department during the Second World War.

The War Department published hundreds of weekly Newsmaps during the Second World War, for distribution to military installations, domestic industry and political leaders. The Newsmaps generally featured maps of recent battles and campaigns, often but not always complemented by educational posters on the verso. The colorful graphics, striking graphic design, and generally upbeat messages seem to have made them effective tools for conveying both information and propaganda.

The Newsmap offered here includes a most interesting primer on the benefits and costs of map projections, making the basic point that “maps are not true for all purposes.”

“A map is merely a means toward an end. Since it is not possible to show everything on a map as it truly appears on a sphere, it is necessary to make a point of things considered important to the subject at hand and to sacrifice others.”
The poster includes numerous diagrams illustrating the advantages and disadvantages of conic, Mercator and azimuthal projections. It is fascinating to see a Newsmap, which by nature was (in part) a tool of government propaganda, commenting in a sense on the veracity of its own images.

The opposite side features a large central world map, color coded to indicate regions controlled by the Allies (green) and Axis (orange). Other colors indicate Vichy France and its territories, countries that have broken off relations with the Axis, and countries still maintaining relations. Numbers on the map are keyed to text below explaining recent actions in the various military theatres. All this is accompanied by inset maps of the Russian Front and “The Push on Port Moresby” as well as photograph of military equipment, soldiers training, &c. Though the war was at a desperate point, with the Japanese in control of much of the South Pacific and the Germans pushing into Stalingrad, the overall impression is no doubt meant to be encouraging: whatever gains the Axis may have made, the vast majority of the world’s surface appears to be under Allied control.

In all, a striking, rare and intriguing artifact of the Federal Government’s mammoth communications effort during the Second World War.

Background on Newsmaps
The Services of Supply was established in March 1942 as part of a reorganization of the War Department. Renamed the Army Service Forces in 1943, it had an incredibly wide remit covering activities “concerning the mobilization and preparation of the Nation’s materiel and manpower resources for war.” These included the publication of educational and morale-building materials, first by the Special Service Division and later by an alphabet soup of other entities within the Services of Supply. Today the best-known of these publications is the weekly newspaper Yank, but also worthy of note are the hundreds of Newsmaps issued weekly from April 1942 on:

“The posters were distributed to military installations, government and civilian groups working on War Department projects, certain depository libraries, as designated by Congress, and one copy to Congressmen, if requested. The NEWSMAPswere printed by the Magill-Weinsheimer Company, 1320-1334 S. Wabash, Chicago, under contract with the war department. The NEWSMAPs were discontinued with the Volume 5, Number 4 edition dated June 18, 1946. At the height of its distribution, NEWSMAP had a circulation of 345,000 copies. Volume 1 and 2 of these posters were prepared and distributed by the Army Orientation Course, Special Service Division, Army Service Forces, 2E580 Pentagon Building, Washington, DC. Volumes 3 and 4 were prepared and distributed by Army Information Branch, Army Service Forces, 205 E 42nd Street, New York 17, NY.” (National Archives and Records Administration)
The Newsmaps were remarkable productions. Most issues issue featured a map or maps, using vivid colors and one more unusual projections to depict activity in important theatres of war over the previous week. A single Newsmap might for example feature a world map; a “bird’s-eye view” of East Asia; or multiple maps of actions as far afield as Western Europe, the Russian Front, and South Georgia Island in the Pacific. The maps were usually accompanied by substantial explanatory text providing more detail on the areas and actions depicted.

Many Newsmaps were printed double-sided. The verso would at times feature additional maps and text depicting current events, but many printed educational material of use to soldiers, such as how to recognize enemy planes or protect oneself against a gas attack. Of these, my very favorite is the verso of the November 8, 1943 Newsmap, which features This is Ann…She Drinks Blood, drawn by Theodore Geisel and urging soldiers to protect themselves against malaria. Yet others printed propagandistic exhortations of a more general nature, for example encouraging viewers on the home front to avoid wasting material that could aid the war effort, or buy war bonds. As with the maps, these educational and propagandistic pieces used bold colors, eye-catching graphic design, and catchy language, and are both fascinating period pieces and eminently displayable.

NewsMaps were usually very large, often approaching three feet by four feet, and issued folded. Physically fragile and ephemeral in nature, the vast majority must have perished at an early date. As a result, while they are frequently encountered on the market, individual issues should be considered scarce and possibly rare. For example, I find but two institutional holdings for the September 14, 1942 NewsMap offered here.

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A delightful puzzle globe, 1880

This clever little puzzle globe was produced as an educational tool, demanding a combination of physical manipulation and mental exertion in order to reinforce students’ geographic knowledge. The globe consists of 22 wooden pieces, including 20 wedge-shaped segments and 2 polar calottes, together with an ebonized wooden stands. When properly assembled the pieces form six six “layers,” between each of which are maps and graphics representing the various continents. The graphics are delightful though rather fanciful; for example that of America depicts two native Americans battling an absolutely mammoth snake and a vaquero roping a steer, while in the background a volcano with a strong resemblance to Mount Vesuvius emits streams of lava.

The globe bears the imprint of Faustino Paluzie (1833-1901), an important Barcelona publisher of educational materials. The following is a rough translation from a Spanish-language web site:

“[The globe] was marketed by Faustino Paluzie (1833-1901), a Catalan editor specializing in educational books and teaching materials for children and young[est?] son of Esteban Paluzie Cantalozella-Olot, 1806-, founder of the eponymous [publishing house], teacher and innovative teacher who wrote and drew extensive manuals on subjects such as mathematics, history, geography or grammar.

“The Paluzie house, one of the most famous Spanish publishers dedicated to children and young people, opened in 1865 on the Bellafila de Gracia (Barcelona) and published his first known catalog two years later.

“In 1871, father and son—pioneers in the use of lithography in the sector—joined forces, expanded the business and built new workshops in an establishment located at number 421 Diputación de Barcelona….

“[The firm’s] activity was very broad and covered instructional toys, theaters, maps, cut-outs, teaching materials, school textbooks, various books, atlases, silabarios[?], terrestrial and celestial globes, armillary spheres and Copernican systems [i.e., orreries?]

“The growth of the company was overshadowed by the death of the father [in] 1873, although the company continued successfully in the hands of the second and third generation to its ultimate demise in 1940 after the Spanish Civil War.” (“El globo celeste de Don Faustian Paluzíe”)
The printed pictorial label on the lid bears what appears to be an imprint of “M. F. Manila.” I have been unable to find an explanation for this, but perhaps this example was made for distribution in the Philippines.

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Rare plate etched by an American satirist, 1830

An etched copper plate by American artist David Claypoole Johnston, produced for his Scraps series of satires. NB: The images below the image of the plate itself are recent impressions taken of the recto and verso.

Johnston (1797?-1865) was a multi-talented artist specializing in caricature and satire. Born and trained in Philadelphia, he moved to Boston in the 1820s and produced lithographs for the Pendletons before transitioning to self-publication. He is best known for his Scraps, a series of nine quarto pamphlets published in the 1830s-40s, each containing several plates bearing multiple comic sketches. Though his bread and butter medium was comic caricature, Johnston also produced a number of political satires, of which the virulently anti-slavery The House that Jeff Built is among the best known.

Offered here is the original etched copper plate for Scraps for 1830: No. 2, plate 4 (I made this identification by chance, after stumbling on an impression illustrated on the Antiquarian Society web site.) The plate features nine images, with the mood ranging in typical Johnston fashion from silliness to biting social commentary. In “Short Accommodation for a Long Gentleman” for example, a tall man lays in a much-too-short bed, his legs sticking out a window and chickens roosting thereon as he makes a dreadful pun: “What honest creatures country fowls are, here have they been roosting on my legs all night without making an irregular appropriation of a single corn.” By contrast, in “A Lame Title” a slave owner brings a runaway before an outraged judge:

Slaveowner: “The runaway rascal is my property. I bought and paid for him_Here’s an accurate description of the seams on his back which I gave him and a receipted bill of sale from his owner. What stronger evidence would you have?”
Judge: “A receipted bill of sale from his MAKER, sir.”
The verso bears an etching of a pastoral landscape, with a couple in the left foreground engaged either in courtship, argument or both. A quick look at the faces on the couple shows that the plate is unfinished. The size (8 3/8”h x 9 ¾”w at the neat line) suggests that it was intended for separate publication, but it is neither dated, titled, nor, most important, signed. It was almost certainly executed by an artist other than Johnston, as I find no record of his having worked in this genre.

Early engraved copper plates are rare survivals, as the copper was sufficiently valuable that the images were often burnished out and the plates reused or the plates melted down entirely. That said, the David Claypoole Johnston Family Collection at the American Antiquarian Society includes no fewer than six such plates, including four engraved for Scraps No. 7 by John F. Morin after drawings by Johnston. These may be viewed on the AAS web site.

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