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Design Review: Volume 3, Issue 1 (July-August 1950)

[book reviews]

page 25

Making a Bookplate

By Mark F. Severin: How To Do It Series, No. 39 (Studio Publications, London and New York).

The Studio ‘How-to-do-its’ need no introduction. Making a Bookplate, the thirty-ninth, is a worthy addition to the series. The publishers have been careful to select an eminent craftsman to deal with each subject and the results have been admirable. Mark Severin, the author in this case, knows all about bookplates, their purpose, their history, their fascination — and he knows all about making them. The text is clearly and simply written and teems with practical suggestions and sound advice.

There seems to be endless variety in the hundreds of examples illustrated in the book but Mr Severin assures us that these can be classified into three categories: Calligraphy, Typography, Heraldry or Subject. Within this field the scope is practically unlimited. The only limitations are, in fact, those of the medium chosen for reproducing the design. Of the possible methods Mr Severin gives pride of place to wood engraving, with line engraving next. Lithography, etching, drypoint, mezzotint and fine heliogravure are all “smart media”. Offset-litho, line blocks or half-tones are unworthy.

There is an illuminating chapter on execution, wherein the author tackles the delicate problem of producing a good design that will please the customer. A bookplate is such a personal thing that the designer (for preference a graphic artist) must be prepared to incorporate the view of the person who wants an ex libris. Tact plays an important part.

This is a book that will appeal to designers and laymen alike.

From Cave Painting To Comic Strip

By Lancelot Hoghen—Max Parris & Co. Ltd., London.

The title suggests a popular approach and the book is in fact a very readable and entertaining history of art. Many illustrations from a great variety of sources enliven the 280 pages. Lancelot Hogben is frankly a “popular expositor,” but his book, which could easily be perfectly hateful, is in fact thoroughly fascinating. Art is regarded as a means of communication and the topics include sex, seals, signatures, alphabets, printing, paper, playing cards, stereotype and isotype, anatomy, advertizement, television, animation and free speech. The text is chatty and covers incidentally a host of facts and some interesting opinions. The 200 odd illustrations were chosen by Marie Neurath, Director of the Isotype Institute, and she knows how to make a picture book

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