THE FAIRIE QUEENE
No publisher, Brussels, 1981
Designed and printed by Sem Hartz at De Tuinwijkpers.
Published in an unknown number of copies.
This little treasure, which I got at the same time as another item printed by Sem Hartz that I was desperately after (the Tuinwijkpers/Gruffyground The Phoenix and Turtle) is here for purely aesthetic reasons. The text – an extract from Spenser’s The Faerie Queene, with a translation by Christine D‘Haen – is enjoyable enough, but what really makes this shine is its visual beauty. I guess this would have been the point, as it was commissioned for the occasion of Queen Beatrix’s 1981 visit to Belgium. As such it clearly needed to be an attractive piece!
The printer, Sem Hartz, was, in addition to being a very fine typographer, printer and engraver, also a very talented type designer, as is shown here with the main text set in Emergo, his own proprietary typeface. It really is a most handsome font that sits well within the rich heritage of Dutch type design. The exquisite initials used inside are also particularly stunning, and their use alongside Emergo really make the pages shine.
Despite being a miniature with only a handful of pages, this is one of those items that I keep pulling from the shelf to gaze at, as each time I do I am taken by how much of a printed jewel it is.
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