Saturday, October 20, 2018

Dust jacket and built-in bookplate from 1937 Van Loon book

Shown above is the somewhat-less-than-mint dust jacket for prolific author Hendrik Willem Van Loon's 1937 book Observations on the Mystery of Print and the Work of Johann Gutenberg. Given that the book is 81 years old, we can forgive some tanning and chipping on the jacket, I think.

The jacket illustration was also done by Van Loon. According to the flap: "The Jacket depicting the Book Fair of 1537 in any mediaeval town, was printed in two colors by Mortimer & Walling, New York, from plates by Chromatic Photo Engraving Co., New York." The book was printed especially for The New York Times National Book Fair. Van Loon ends with this paragraph:
It may take courage to restate this truth in the the midst of the turmoil of today. Wherefore we should proclaim it from the top of the Rockefeller Center and should print it here in the biggest, boldest letters that are to be found in the upper case of the printers who are preparing this little book for you, summing it up in these few but all-important words:
Here's an excerpt from Bruce Cline's review of the book on Goodreads:
"This thin volume is, of necessity, a short romp through the annals of the history of printing, reaching back to early China and the Mediterranean, and somewhat focusing on 16th century Europe, principally Holland and Germany. Van Loon delicately dispels the notion that Gutenberg invented movable type, but adds that the precise inventor(s) are unknown and unknowable."
Meanwhile, the book contains a nifty bookplate that has been printed onto the inside front cover:

While there is no specific credit, I'm guessing this illustration was also done by Van Loon.

The name written on the bookplate is Mary E. Tidd. I found multiple people with that name. One of the best possibilities might be the Mary who was from Williamsport, Pennsylvania, and graduated from the Training School for Nurses of St. Joseph's Hospital in 1908.

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