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This will be the first post in a series where we intend to delve a bit further into what the eye sees when we look at book covers or dust jackets, as well as,  book bindings.

The plain wrapper with a lettered title is the simplest form but the latter part of the 19th Century saw a proliferation of all sorts of marbleized papers used as book covers like the one shown above. Usually these papers are hard to date.

We have chosen a few at random and these type of covers were popular well into the 1940’s and are seeing a bit of a comeback in specialty binding.

Netherlands 1884 Bible with later cloth & marble paper binding

Netherlands 1884 bible in a later cloth/marble binding.

France 1898

France 1901, cloth and marbled paper

Netherlands 1954

Netherlands mid 1940’s

The paper cover binding was made into an exquisite art form in the Northern European countries but generally all European countries made exceptional paper bound books well into the 1940’s.

At times the bindings are more elaborate and often leather combinations are used.



These two bindings feature a modernist design which is similar to designs found on German pottery from the Bauhaus period 1920’s-1930’s.


Germany 1920-1930

Germany, Insel Verlag Publishers 1920-1930


Germany early 1920’s well faded but interesting


Germany from the same period early 1920’s

Germany 1919 binding Walter TiemannThe Gesammt kunstwerk, i.e. the complete art form, a 1919 design by Walter Tiemann, one of finest type and cover/binding designers in Germany at the time.

P1040188Now let us move on to letters and words. Not everything we see is done by hand lettering, type and fonts can be deceiving.

France 1951 Banco typeface design Roger Excoffon

France 1951 the Banco typeface designed by Roger Excoffon.


France, the Mistral typeface designed by Roger Excoffon, 1953


IMG_0014The typeface was also released in 1955 by the world famous Typefoundry Amsterdam.

Netherlands 1941 design H.Salden

Netherlands Design Henri Salden 1941

Sometimes we see similar design ideas years later again.

IMG_0004The period between the two wars in the Twentieth Century was one of extreme interest in typography and many daring designs were used such as these below.

Netherlands 1933

Netherlands, designer unknown, 1933 third printing. The three printings totaled 10,000 copies. The German novel title is Kleiner Mann, wass nun. More on the author Hans Fallada here.

Netherlands 1927 translation of Süss,The Jew

Netherlands 1927 translation from the German book better known as Süss, The Jew, by Lion Feuchtwanger.

A hard to read type, Netherlands 1939, translation of a famous German book title by Dr. Wilhelm Reich and published in the Netherlands by the Socialist Anarchist Publishing company with the subtitle: A contribution to social change of humanity. The Dutch tilte reads Sexuality and the New Culture. What happened to Dr. Reich in the USA you can read by following the link above.

P1040368The letters below look somewhat like the German Fraktur letters

ik verkoos de vrijheid

Ik verkoos de vrijheid, Dutch 1947 translation of the book I Chose Freedom by the Russian Victor Kravchenko, an early anti communist text used by the American Intelligence Community to rally Western European nations to a new anti Soviet crusade.



Netherlands 1962 design Jurriaan Schrofer

Netherlands 1962 design Jurriaan Schrofer, (Meditations about pornography) and ever so slowly we are moving to another era.

Czech Republic 1967

Czech Republic 1967

Germany 1961

Germany 1961

Germany 1963

Germany 1963

France 1968

France 1968

Great Britain 1971

Great Britain 1971

We will continue this series on type in future posts. All books are from our own collection.