Prints in books folders, and on walls
In 1936, Tadeusz Cieślewski (son) published his most important book titled "Drzeworyt w książce, tece i na ścianie" ["Woodcut Prints in Books, Folders and on Walls"]. The publication was significant, as it cherished the old tradition of collecting prints, which could rarely be seen on walls. Most often, they could be found in folders and albums. In his book, Cielewski emphasized the original purpose of collecting prints, which were supposed to serve as souvenirs from the visited places or signify a close relationship with a person, who, despite being far away in a physical sense, was near and dear to one's heart.
The so-called "alba amicorum," also referred to as friendship books, enjoyed particular popularity in Europe from the 16th to the 19th centuries. The word derives from the Latin "alba", which were registers used in ancient Rome to record reports of everyday events. The word "albus" (Latin albus - white) referred to a white tablet or register on which public notices were recorded in black or red letters. Since the beginning of the 16th century, young students have been compiling alba amicorum during their travels throughout Europe. These albums were typically small in size but could occasionally be quite substantial in volume. Following graduation, friends would make entries wishing each other well on their journeys or hoping to meet again. Before the development of railways in Europe, finishing school frequently meant that you wouldn't see your friends for many years, sometimes forever. For this reason, the entries were very elaborate and often contained illustrations. Professors and clergymen who were well-known in the student community were frequently asked to make entries, which served as a letter of recommendation. The entries in the friendship books were very often decorated with a small illustration or a print. The spread of alba amicorum was one of the main factors contributing to the popularization of collector's prints in Europe. With the increased demand for prints, impressions were no longer only utilitarian items recording reality (maps, prints, illustrations, and reproductions of well-known works of art) and objects available only to the highest-ranking individuals in society.
Albums often initiated collections, which is why prints were frequently found in books and folders rather than on walls for many years. Folders of prints often served as mobile exhibitions. They could be taken on a journey and presented in institutions or paraded before friends. Studying print folders was also a more sophisticated form of entertainment. By learning about the history of each impression, one could trace back narratives and anecdotes and share these observations with friends. The Polish Portfolio of Prints, a touring exhibition that was presented throughout Europe, may serve as an example of such traveling art. The portfolio, which includes 124 miniature prints created by Poland's top artists, essentially represents a cross-section of the accomplishments of Polish printmakers at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s. It may be actually treated as a mini-museum of impressions or a mobile archive of prints where you can find extremely rare works by Stanisław Fijałkowski or Jerzy Grabowski. Another treat is a collection of Mieczyslaw Majewski's works and a miniature version of Antoni Starczewski's classic, large-format gaufrage.