Dec 20 2017

Tattoo Collection


Vernacular Tattoo Archive

(Morelia, Mexico / Phoenix) No printing details, c. 1970s–1980s]. A superb collection of approximately 325 photographs depicting close up imagery of late Seventies and Eighties tattoo designs. Modern tattooing began in 1891 when Samuel O’Reilly invented the first electric tattoo machine, adapting an earlier patent of Thomas Edison. During the early years most tattoo artists and their customers were outside the mainstream of society. Throughout most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, tattoos were considered low class and vulgar among Americans and Europeans, a common adornment for criminals and drunken sailors. From the 1960s to the 1970s, tattoos became the image of rebellion–mostly worn by bikers, hippies, and other less- accepted cultures in the Western world. By the 1970s and 1980s tattoos had become part of fashion trends developed by small groups seeking to create distinctive looks to identify with their peers. Since the 1980s, tattooing has emerged anew as a widely appealing cultural, artistic and social form. Elite Tattooists, magazine editors and leaders of tattoo organizations have downplayed the working-class roots of tattooing in order to make it more palatable for middle-class consumption. Now a completely new set of meanings derived primarily from non-Western cultures has been created to give tattoos an exotic, primitive flavor. The images here document the period that tattooing was becoming more mainstream and the elevation of the tattoo as an art form. There are examples of earlier, cruder tattoos being covered up and/or enhanced, and many examples of the popular imagery of the time – skulls, skeletons, eagles, dragons, Harley Davidson symbols, panthers, and flowers. A fascinating documentation of an artform as it begins its move from its outsider / outlaw form into mainstream culture. A number of the photographs here attributed to the work of Mike Armstrong, a respected tattooer who worked at the Blue Dragon Studio in Mexico having previously been mentored by Bud Pierson, 1983 Tattooer of the Year.


Jun 14 2017

Ward Manor: photograph album

[ACIP] [Social Programs] Ollie A. Randall’s Photograph Album for Ward Manor; the Old Folks Home and Youth Camp of New York City’s Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor

Annandale-on Hudson, New York: Np, 1930. Album 13 x 15 1/2.” Burgundy boards with black tape reinforcing the spine; gilt lettering. Wear and scratches to boards with right top corner loss (approx .5 x 1”), else very good. 40 pages with 83 black & white photos, ranging in size from 3 1/2 x 5” to 10 x 7 1/2.” Each photo with title and typed description. 3 photos missing but description remains. Included is a two page spread, entitled Places of Friendliness, which gives a detailed account of Ward Manor and what goes on there. On the last page is a map of Ward Manor, measuring 8 1/2 x 13.”

In 1926. William Boyd, the owner of a baking company, purchased a large grey stone building and the surrounding land near Annandale-on Hudson and donated it to the Association for Improving the Condition of the Poor (ACIP), which, in turn, used it to create “a welcoming place for poor people to spend the last years of their lives.” Eventually the ACIP bought surrounding properties and, not only expanded the number of elderly rooms, but also created a summer vacation resort for semi-employed adults and a summer camp for impoverished children.

Ollie A. Randall was the director of Ward Manor from 1926 until 1945. Ward Manor is now a part of the campus of Bard College.

A unique photographic record of an important, innovative and pioneering urban Social Program.


May 18 2017

Hand-finished map of Spanish Civil War


A hand finished map that came from the effects of Russell Blackwell after his death. Russell apparently took a page from a Catalan text with a map showing school locations in Barcelona. The side showing “Escoles de la Generalitat” is colored in by hand in various shades with the handwritten explanation: “Barcelona May 3-7, 1937. – controlled by CNT + POUM forces – controlled by Generalitat Police + Stalinists.”

Blackwell, Russell (Rosalio Negrete). Spanish Civil War Map (Barcelona) – May 3-7th, 1937. [Not published]
9 3/4 x 7 inches. Two minuscule chips on top edge and slight tear at fold (not affecting text).

Russell Blackwell, aka Rosalio Negrete (1904-1969) was a lifetong revolutionary and anarchist. Caught up in the excitement of the Russian Revolution, he joined the Communist Party in the early 1920s. Moving to Mexico, he became an official of the Communist youth group and one of the founders on the Communist Party of Honduras. Becoming disenchanted with communists, he drifted toward Trotskyism. During the Spanish Civil War he went to Spain to fight with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Drifting further to the left, he worked with the POUM and later the anarchist CNT-FAI. He was wounded in action, arrested twice by the communists and tortured by the NKVD. Finally released, he returned to the U.S. a thoroughly revolutionary and strongly anti-communist activist. Early May of 1937 was a chaotic period even for the Spanish Civil War during which all the various factions fought – especially in Catalonia.

For sale: contact andrea@tomberg.rarebooks.

Nov 17 2015

Artists Space Archive


Artists Space Archive

Scope & Content

The Artists Space Collection was a part of the Jean-Noel Herlin Archive Project, which is replete with important and rare documents. Herlin, who was an antiquarian bookseller in the 1970s, began in 1973 to acquire exhibition invitations/ announcements and poster/mailers on painting, sculpture, drawing and prints, performance, and video. He was motivated by the quasi-neglect in which these ephemeral primary sources in art history were held by American commercial channels.

Artists Space has been an active alternative art space in New York beginning in the early 70’s. Existing documentation of New York City’s influential alternative art culture of the 1970s and 1980s is ephemeral. Many alternative initiatives are spontaneous, time-based, or anti-institutional and documentation is frequently meager. We know that what becomes history is to some extent determined by what is archived. The Artists Space Collection is unique because of the variety of items in many different art forms and from many different artists that Jean-Noel Herlin had the foresight to save and that others might not have valued.

The collection, which dates from the early 1970s to 2008, includes 265 press releases, calendars, posters, booklets, announcement cards, invitations, catalogs, publications, postcards, newspaper articles and the Artists Space newspapers, all reflecting the many artists associated with this alternative space and the novel events and sessions that were held there.

$6,000 History

Details upon request

In 1973, founders Trudie Grace and Irving Sandler asked an important question. Why didn’t the visual arts have their publicly- funded showcase? Dance and theater had theirs. From the start, Grace and Sandler were adamant that no single faction of school of thought be able to dominate. The fist space occupied by Artists Space was on Wooster Street. During the first year, to implement the idea of fairness, there was a system of artists choosing artists to exhibit. There were so many artists in New York and Sandler and Grace didn’t want to leave anyone shivering in the cold, so they initiated the Unaffiliated Artists File. Any artist who was a New York State resident could send in slides to potentially attract dealers and curators. In 1975, Helene Winter arrived in New York to head Artists Space. Under her tenure, the alternative space began to feature film, video, and performance; and organize traveling theme shows. Today Artists Space is still thriving, offering an exciting and engaging venue.

Nov 16 2015

New: Catalogue 4


  • New! Catalogue Four
  • visit: to view catalogue or email me for a print copy at:
  • Enjoy!


Feb 27 2015

Iron Butterfly Original Editor Proofs


Feb 27 2015

Screaming Sneaker Archive

Screaming Sneaker Archive pdf

May 9 2014

Little Rock, AR: Parker-Harper, 1923. First Edition. 16 pp. Approx. 3 1/4 x 5 3/4” Original, double-stapled, stiff paper wrappers with illustration of a woman holding a torch and a shield with a KKK emblem on front cover. Cover title also includes, “Issued by the Imperial Headquarters/Women of the Ku Klux Klan.” At bottom of p. 16, in pencil are notes, “God-Dominates/. good – heals/. Down with all/devilishness & slavery/cleaned out/Good is Supreme/Power/This heals the sinner/God Omnipotent Reiggneth./” Very Good/No Jacket as issued. A very scarce pamphlet discussing the role of women in this vile, racist organization. Fragile- and scarce. None in commerce.


May 9 2014

Our most recent collection: Women Pioneers in Baseball – sold the other day.

Pioneers in Women’s Baseball

May 9 2014


Welcome to the pages from the working notebook of Tomberg Rare Books, Inc.  We will be sharing archives, collections, ideas and thoughts.  We hope you enjoy witnessing out process.  Stay tuned for the first post . . .