Museum Books Inc., 1952.
Printed at the private printing office of the D. Stempel AG Type Foundry, Germany, for Museum Books Inc., New York.
Published in an edition of 2,000 copies.
Anyone who knows the work of Hermann Zapf reasonably well knows that his calligraphy is exquisite. This selection of his work drawn during 1939-1941 aptly proves it.
This really is a terrific labour, as each page of Zapf’s calligraphy was hand engraved in metal by Stempel’s master punch-cutter, August Rosenberger. When you look at the pages and see just how perfectly they have been done, you get some idea of the incredible amount of work that has gone into this book. What could, I guess, have easily been made as line blocks from the original drawings was instead recreated in the most difficult, time-consuming manner possible, and in doing so honoured the true craftsmanship of both Zapf’s work and the finest traditional processes of its reproduction. The resulting book is one of the very best examples of highest-quality letterpress I own, with the printing quality of the pages all but perfect.
I think there are many purists that would prefer to have the original German edition, Feder und Stichel, but I’m totally happy to own this one. Not only was it produced by the same printer using the exact same methods and the same finest materials, but I can actually read the text. I do admit that I wish it still featured the calligraphic title page from the original German edition as that is particularly beautiful. But this is the smallest of matters and this book remains stunning without it.
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