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• • • • • • on letters, words, books and graphic design • • • • • •

School Journal 1962 Almanach Pestalozzi


School started again, so I thought it appropriate to dig up this small pocket diary. Cloth-bound with 2 colour stamping: a handsome piece of work.


I guess some people find this blog often nostalgic. It might look that way, but what I show is not about nostalgia but about roots. My visual roots, the begining of my imagination, of my relationship with the world around me and the origins of my professional life.

I was born in 1963 in a middle class family. Try to imagine  a world with no screens except for a black and white television with 4 channels on: one flemmish and one french speaking Belgian and – with some luck – two Dutch broadcasts. On school days we had one hour of childrens tv. For movies one had to go to the cinema. All other visual information we got came through printed material. Books and magazines were the main source of information about the world beyond our physical reach. Not too bad: they were fairly affordable, portable and durable.



The great thing about this particular school journal is that it is full of entertaining stuff: science, geography, history, but also games, puzzles and riddles. It has morning exercises. It shows art, from prehistoric cave paintings to modern sculpture. For a pupil in 1962 this was a treasure room. I would have killed for it. Can you imagine a school journal today to be the coolest thing around?





Most surprising are the colour pages: those are used to show state of the art design. Plastics! Ceramic tiles! Le Corbusier wallpaper! This is a book for for kids from 12 to 18 in the year 1962. That is emancipation for you.




Almanach Pestalozzi 1962
Agenda de poche des écoliers Belges
Office de Publicité SA Bruxelles
Licence Pro Juventute Zurich
Book format: 100 x 150 mm


Filed under: book design, , ,

De Muze en de seizoenen Jenny Dalenoord


Did you know there are people amongst us who get a happy feeling when the summer ends and the leaves start to fall? For those romantic souls this book cover must be a special treat. It is another Dutch book week gift, cover design and illustrations by Jenny Dalenoord in 1953.




Jenny Dalenoord is one of the leading ladies in post-war children book illustration in the Netherlands. I found a nice movie of a visit she paid to KrisKras, a book store in Amsterdam in 2005. Jenny was 87 then, but shining. I will show some covers she did in a future post. Below are some details from this Muse and the seasons book. Look at the wonderful play between positive and negative form.


De Muze en de seizoenen
Poetry collected by Clara Eggink
CPNB – 1953
Cover and illustrations by Jenny Dalenoord
Book format: 135 x 215 mm


Filed under: book design, , ,

Colourful Bindings Alexis Keunen


This colourful lot is part of the Livre du Mois collection, published for a subscribers-only book club in the early fifties. Many of the  Books of the Month were printed in Liège, and the ones shown here were all designed by Alexis Keunen (1922-1990), a surrealist painter from the same city. This could explain the – now slightly retro –  avantgarde look of those years.






Each book was presented in a red cardboard casing and dust protected by a transparent film, both of which did not survive the next half century too well. The materials used all look a bit more classy than they are, but the designs are still fresh, and charm there is plenty.

The covers shown:
A.J. Cronin – Sous le Regard des Etoiles
– Editions Albin Michel, april 1952
Ludwig Bemelmans – Cochon d’Eddie!
– Editions Robert Laffont, december 1950
Arturo D. Hernandez – Sangama
– Editions Albin Michel, july 1952
Betty Mac Donald – N’importe qui peut faire n’importe quoi
– Editions Robert Laffont, hors série 1950
Jaques Robert – Les Dents Longues
– Editions René Julliard, hors série 1951
James A. Michener – Pacifique Sud
– Flammarion Editeur, march 1952
Vasco Pratolini – Chronique des Pauvres Amants
– Editions Albin Michel, november 1950
Elisabeth Barbier – Serres paradis
– Editions René Julliard, september 1950
Claude Farrère – La Sonate Tragique
– Editions Ernest Flammarion, june 1950

Le Club du Livre du Mois
book format: 200 x 135 mm
design: Alexis Keunen

Filed under: book design, ,

Book design: grand openings!

Starting a series on book design, I like to present you a book I bought on a flea market only for its great opening pages. From the cover to the first actual lines of the novel, the designer of Les saints vont en enfer (Saints go to hell) leads us towards the story with an entry that recalls the French cinéma noir of the early fifties. It is not about gangsters though, but a social drama about a worker-priest.







Gilbert Cesbron – Les saints vont en enfer
Club Mondial du Livre
Written in 1951, this must be a later edition for a book club with subscription, but definitely edited in the fifties. The colofon says: présentation: Jean Garcia. Could this be the designer?

Filed under: book design,