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ScanImage010 ScanImage011Great American authors have always had a worldwide following. This Dutch book has some interesting characteristics. The binding features a tight letter and illustration style reminiscent of the Bauhaus or the Wendingen” Amsterdam School Style. The WB logo stands for Wereld Bibliotheek or World Library in English, and refers to the publisher of this translation.

The charming title page has an earlier Art Nouveau or Jugendstil feel to it. On the right side of the page, shows the date 1918, and a note on the last line, translated reads third printing 9th, 19th and 11th thousand. Not bad for a small country and a translated title. The wise owl certainly adds to the character of the story.

The top of the page reads Egar Allan Poe, ten stories about adventure, secrets and imagination, translated by J.F. Ankersmit and a preface by Henri van Booven, with a portrait of the author.

The left side of this frontispiece is equally interesting. It reads from the top down, World Library (1905-2015) directed by L. Simons, founder and editor. The bottom reads published by the Company for Good and Cheap Literature, the company name changed early on to World Library, and the founder intended to publish good translated world class literature, a hard job in those days. A detail, fascinating to me, is the inverted triangle that reads “Books are the university of our days”. Those were the days when education beyond reading and writing was not a given, and university study was the exception, usually reserved for the wealthier citizens.

By the early 1920’s, the company became very successful publishing literary works translated in the Dutch language from authors like Dante, Freud and Dickens. The World Library employed architects and artists or graphic designers for their superb book and binding layouts for these inexpensive editions.

In the 100 years of their existence, before being sold in 2015, they succeeded in publishing about 3500 titles and contributed in a valuable way to Dutch culture.

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