Scrapbooks and Portfolios
One of the strengths of the Military Collection is the amount of original graphic material and much of this can be found in approximately 18,000 scrapbooks, sketchbooks, albums and portfolios. Many engravings are also stored in these. In 1953, Mrs. Brown bought the entire personal collection of British naval prints and some original drawings formed by the late historian Commander Charles Napier Robinson, R.N. This collection consists of 20 folio volumes containing a unique large-paper printing of Robinson's The British Tar in Fact and Fiction (London, 1909). These volumes are copiously extra-illustrated with the author's extensive and valuable personal collection of 17th-19th century prints of British naval history, including also a large number of caricatures, songsheets, and broadsides.
The collection of the late Colonel Frederick Todd, Curator of the West Point Museum, was acquired in the 1980's. It comprises more than 500 annotated albums illustrating uniforms of the entire world. Inserted into the albums are clippings, postcards, water-colors, drawings, prints, and photographs. The French section alone is covered by 75 albums documenting the history of French military and naval uniforms from 1610 to circa 1950. There are also 75 albums covering Great Britain, while the section on Russia has 26 volumes.
Artist's sketchbooks can be found in the collection. Examples include a series of sketchbooks kept by the Scottish 'special' artist, William Simpson (1823-1899), during the war in the Crimea from 1854-1855 and in subsequent campaigns. A small sketchbook by the eminent French artist, Jean Meissonier (1813-1891), has fine pencil drawings of horse fittings, while an album kept by Henry Martens (fl. 1825-1865), an artist of British uniforms of the early nineteenth century, includes fine water-colors detailing regimental lace and other accouterments. One particularly rare item is a ledger book containing drawings by Chief Killer, a member of the Lacota Sioux who was incarcerated at Fort Marion, Florida, in 1877.
Beautifully detailed hand-colored engravings by the French military artist Nicholas Hoffman (1740-1823), illustrate the many uniforms of the French army during the latter years of the Ancien Régime and the Napoleonic period. Also in the French section is a suite of 249 gouache renderings of army uniforms made for King Louis XVI, handsomely bound in leather embossed with the king's arms, as well as a small volume of hand-colored engravings of uniforms bound for Marie Antoinette and stamped with her arms. The Spanish section includes a series of albums made circa 1767-1780 for King Carlos III, containing water-colors of the dress and equipment of all units of the home and colonial armies.
There are numerous portfolios containing engravings of battles and portraits of generals. One portfolio has depictions of Japanese ceremonial costume, accessories and fabric patterns from a 10-volume work, published around 1820. The late 19th and early 20th century military history of Japan is well covered by numerous wood-block prints showing scenes from the Sino-Japanese and Russo-Japanese wars. Among the prints and water-colors of Latin American uniforms is a set of 11 unsigned original water-colors by a Peruvian artist depicting mid-19th century uniformed figures.