Folgore da San Gimignano
Stichting De Roos, 1979
Designed and printed by Cees van Dijk at Carlinapers, Haarlem, Netherlands, for Stichting De Roos, Utrecht, Netherlands.
Published in an edition of 175 copies.
Here is one of those all-but perfect small books; an exquisite bilingual edition in Dutch and Italian, with the Dutch translation of the Italian original by Frans van Dooren. Unfortunately, I read neither Dutch nor Italian, but this book still makes this list due to its aesthetic appeal.
Since the mid 1940s, the Dutch publisher Stichting De Roos has published fine press editions, commissioning some of the finest writers, artists and printers to work on them. For this book they asked Cees van Dijk at Carlinapers to do the printing. Van Dijk was a fine choice as he had spent many years printing beautiful editions, including an eight-year period of being a printing and publishing partner at Sem Hartz’s Tuinwijkpers.
De Maanden is an immaculately produced book. It is designed in a classic Dutch style in Lutetia and Lutetia Open, and features gorgeous initials by Pieter Wetselaar (once a graphic designer at Enschedé). The small touches of colour throughout are spot on, as is the choice of the gorgeous marbled paper used for the wrappers. Even the Zerkall, which is often quite a plain paper, has a lovely texture to it, making it pleasingly tactile. It is one of those volumes that is a joy to open and just look at.
For those curious about the text (like I was), it is twelve sonnets of the months, written at an unspecified point during the author’s life (c.1270 - c.1332). English translations of De Maanden (The Months) have been made, with Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s the one that I have read. In a nutshell, it’s an enjoyable run of hunting, feasting, jousting and merry-making throughout the Medieval year.
It is not often that a book I can’t actually read arrives on my shelves, let alone makes it here. This, though, is more than gorgeous enough to do so.
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