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hajduIn 1967, the friends of the Dallas Public Library had an interesting exhibition and published a catalog with the title Arts of the French Book. Those readers who regularly do research into the book arts will know about this one. Two well known writers and experts were responsible for curating the content, Eleanor Garvey and Peter A. Wick. The softcover catalog with 119 pages is well illustrated with black and white and color illustrations.

The exhibition and the catalog give a good overview of the French illustrated book as it was known at that moment. What makes it interesting for me is the choice of the illustration for the cover and the way it was done.

Hard to produce here from my somewhat soiled copy, it is, I believe, the first time ever and perhaps the only time to its date that a public library or museum uses a “blind stamp” technique (to keep it in simple terms) for the cover of this type of publication, by a “foreign artist” as well.

Etienne Hajdu (1907-1996) was the artist, and here is the text from the catalog entry: ” technical experiments have widened the scope of modern book design and permitted effects unknown to an earlier generation. In this volume (speaking about the work shown in the exhibition) the sculptor Hajdu has achieved a quality of relief sculpture by printing uninked plates under such high pressure that the pages take on a third dimension, forming patterns in reverse on each side of the leaf. The book is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and restraint within a bold unified design. The firm, supple texture of the hand-made white paperadds both visual and tactile pleasure, and even the boldly printed colophon page forms an integral part of the design”.

The book which I have not seen in person is titled Regnes by Pierre Lecuire printed by Etienne Hajdu on his own hand press done in 1961 in Paris, France. The typography is Elzevier ancien type face, size is 16 1/4″ x 14 1/2″. The book has 13 inkless intaglios and a cover intaglio for a total of 33 leaves. Published in an edition of 118 copies on Auvergne woven paper including 20 copies hors commerce. It was lent by Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Glaser.