September 20, 2011
Rethinking the Church, Edited by F.V. Johannes, Logos, (1970). Cover design: Des Fitzgerald
Morals, Law & Authority, Edited by J.P. Mackey, Logos, (1969). Cover design: Des Fitzgerald
Celibacy and Virginity, Auer/Egenter/O’Connor, Logos, (1968). Cover design: Des Fitzgerald
The Council Reconsidered, Louis McRedmond, Logos, (1966). Cover design: Des Fitzgerald
Look Towards the East, John Power, Logos, (1969). Cover design: Des Fitzgerald
Set My Exiles Free, John Power, Logos, (1969). Cover design: Des Fitzgerald
New Ways in Theology, J. Sperna Weiland, Logos, (1968). Cover design: Des Fitzgerald
Logos was an imprint of Gill & Macmillan which published books on theology, philosophy and sociology. Launched in the years following the Second Vatican Council, the cover art reflects the Church’s unlikely embracing of Modernism, particularly in architecture, during this period.
With such obtuse titles as Morals, Law & Authority and Celibacy and Virginity the designer, Des Fitzgerald, has managed to do an admirable job. I can find no biographical information on Mr Fitzgerald but I can reveal that he is the (uncredited) designer behind one of the most well known Irish book covers of the last half century – Soundings – the school poetry anthology edited by Augustine Martin.
I had hoped to include the Soundings cover with this post but haven’t been able to source a clean copy as it was invariably defaced by sullen students. The reissued version sports a cover by the very talented Graham Thew which plays on that very fact, adding the updated information as scrawls on the original cover.
June 20, 2011
The Book of Famous Irish Spy Stories, Daniel O’Keeffe, Irish Pocket Books (1956). Design: M.G. (Michael Gallivan)
The Book of Famous Irish Ghost Stories, Edited by Daniel O’Keeffe, Irish Pocket Books (c. 1956). Design: Michael Gallivan. (Courtesy of Larry Hynes)
Memorable Irish Trials, Kenneth E.L. Deale, Irish Pocket Books (c. 1956). Design: Osborne. (Courtesy of Larry Hynes)
Valentine Vaughan Omnibus, R. Thurston Hopkins, Grafton (1947). Design: unknown
A Case Book of Ghosts, F.W. Gumley & M.P. Mahon, Northern Whig (1971). Design: unknown
Triúr don Chómgargadh, Eoghan Ó Grádaigh, Sáirséal 7 Dill Scéalta Mistéir Uimhir 5 (1968). Design: Úna Ní MhaoilEoin
Ruathar Anall, Eoghan Ó Grádaigh, Sáirséal 7 Dill Scéalta Mistéir Uimhir 3 (1962). Design: Seoirse Mac Aodhagáin
Genre fiction has never really taken hold with Irish publishers. The zealous censorship of publications during the first few decades of the State probably played a role but it is more likely that there just isn’t a big enough population to sustain indigenous mass market paperbacks. The above examples of crime, mystery and horror covers display a charming amateurishness.
The first three are from The Mercier Press’ Irish Pocket Books imprint which operated in the mid-fifties. Michael Gallivan illustrated the first two and the third is by a mysterious ‘Osborne’. I’m afraid I can find no information on either artist. Larry Hynes kindly provided two of the examples which he included in a beautiful poster design celebrating 21 years of Charlie Byrne’s book shop in Galway.
There are 24 years between the next two examples, 1947′s Valentine Vaughan Omnibus and A Case Book of Ghosts from 1971, although the latter cover could easily be from the same period. Unfortunately, I don’t own a copy of the Valentine Vaughan book. The October 2010 issue of Book and Magazine Collector, from which the image is taken, estimates it’s value at £150-£200 sterling! The book is set in London but was published in Dublin by Grafton.
The final two covers are from Sáirséal agus Dill’s Scéalta Mistéir (Mystery Stories) series from the sixties. Úna Ní MhaoilEoin presents a rather naive rendering of a smoking pistol on the fifth book in the run, Triúr don Chómgargadh. I previously posted another of her designs for the series, An Masc. Ní MhaoilEoin wrote and illustrated a number of travel books for Sáirséal agus Dill during the sixties including An Maith Leat Spaigiti? (Do You Like Spaghetti?) (1965) and Turas Go Tuinis (Trip to Tunisia) (1969). According to Manchán Magan the Sunday Dispatch described her books as the most amusingly outspoken books ever to have appeared in the Gaelic language.
June 14, 2011
Ioldánas: Irish Crafts Exhibition, Irish Section World Crafts Council (1970). Design: unknown
Transportation in Dublin, An Foras Forbartha (1973). Design: Dara Ó Lochlainn Associates
Here are two booklet covers from the early Seventies. The first is a catalogue for an exhibition of Irish Crafts and the second is a report on transportation in Dublin.
The Ioldánas Irish Crafts Exhibition was organised by the Irish section of the World Crafts Council to coincide with the fourth general assembly of the World Crafts Council in Dublin, 1970. Despite Ireland’s impressive craft lineage (the cover image is a 3,500 year old gold lunula), Ida Grehan in The Irish Times was disparaging of the whole endeavour asking “will it be up to the high standard of Trinity College Library where Picasso, Lurçat and a succession of international artists have been exhibited?” (The Irish Times, May 27, 1970). Nevertheless, the exhibition was a success and directly led to the establishment of the Crafts Council of Ireland the following year.
The font on the cover is Helvetica, still a fresh and modern face in 1970. The rest of the catalogue utilises the beautiful Colmcille typeface, designed by Colm Ó Lochlainn with Karl Uhlemann at the Sign of the Three Candles.
The second cover, Transportation in Dublin, was designed by Colm Ó Lochlainn’s son Dara’s design agency. Although it is from 1973 it feels very sixties. This is no doubt due to the use of Sans Serif No 7 (the digitised version is more commonly called Bureau Grotesque) by Stephenson Blake, a quintessentially British typeface popular in the 1960s. Also, the cars in the photo look a little out of date. I have a feeling the photo is from a few years earlier although it may be a reflection of the recession of the seventies beginning to bite with motorists making do with the old car rather than splashing out on a new model.
Many of the recommendations in the report were implemented, including the East Link bridge and the M50 motorway. The “Possible Underground System” has yet to materialise.
June 7, 2011
Séideán Bruithne (Typhoon), Joseph Conrad, Oifig Díolta Foillseacháin Rialtais (1935). Cover design: unknown
An tOileán Corghruanach (The Coral Island), RM Ballentyne, Oifig An tSoltáthair (1939). Cover design: unknown
An Fáidh Dubh (The Black Prophet), William Carleton, Oifig An tSoltáthair (1940). Cover design: unknown
Críocha Fiadhaine an Tuaiscirt, Sir William Butler, Oifig An tSoltáthair (1938). Cover design: unknown
I’ve been very tardy in updating the blog of late, a trend I hope to reverse in future as I’ve built up a back-log of interesting book covers. Unfortunately, it is proving difficult to find information on a lot of the designers and illustrators and that is causing me to hesitate about posting covers. I will try to keep updating at regular intervals regardless of the depth of detail I’ve managed to amass on the artist involved.
Recently, Will Schofield of the excellent 50watts blog (formerly A Journey Round My Skull) featured 14 covers of Irish language books from the 1930s from my collection. The covers include artwork by Austin Molloy, George Altendorf, Olive Cunningham, Michael A Keane, and Victor Penny, all of who studied illustration and layout at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (now the National College of Art & Design).
Above are four of the featured designs by artists that I have been unable to identify. The bold flat colours really jump off the page and make a great argument for embracing spot colour printing in contemporary book covers as the ubiquitous four colour process (CYMK) can’t come close to reproducing such vivid shades.
I hope to feature Molloy, Altendorf, Cunningham, Keane and Penny in individual posts as each is a significant book jacket artist in the their own right. In the meantime, take a look at some nice examples of their work over at 50watts.
January 6, 2011
I’m not sure if the Seán Ó Brádaigh who designed these covers is the same Seán Ó Brádaigh who was Sinn Fein’s Director of Publicity and the editor of An Phoblacht. I have a feeling that it is but I would be very interested to have it confirmed.
Seosamh Ó Duibhginn was one of the founders of An Clóchamhar which began publishing in 1958. Dónall MacAmhlaigh’s Dialann Deoraí from 1960 is easily the imprint’s best known book It is the definitive account of life as an Irish navvy in 1950′s England. It was published in English as An Irish Navvy, Diary of an Exile.
You can see another example of Ó Brádaigh’s work here.
November 23, 2010
B’Fhiú an Braon Fola (Front), Séamas Ó Maoileóin, Sáirséal 7 Dill (1958). Cover design: Anne Yeats
B’Fhiú an Braon Fola (Back), Séamas Ó Maoileóin, Sáirséal 7 Dill (1958). Cover design: Anne Yeats
An tSraith ar Lár, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Sáirséal 7 Dill (1967). Cover design: Anne Yeats
An tSraith Dhá Tógáil, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Sáirséal 7 Dill (1970). Cover design: Anne Yeats
An tSraith Tógtha, Máirtín Ó Cadhain, Sáirséal 7 Dill (1977). Cover design: Anne Yeats
Codladh an Ghaiscigh, Máire Mhac an tSaoi, Sáirséal 7 Dill (1973). Cover design: Anne Yeats
Anne Yeats (1919-2001) was the daughter of poet WB Yeats and a niece of painter Jack B Yeats. She studied at the Royal Hibernian Academy Schools before working at the Abbey Theatre as chief stage designer. From the early 1940s on she concentrated on painting but over the years she created many covers for Irish language publishers Sáirséal agus Dill.
Much less retrained by commercial considerations than other contemporary publishers, Sáirséal agus Dill’s cover designers were free to explore styles which didn’t have to fit with markets or genres. Most of their designers were primarily artists who dabbled in book design and illustration as an extra income stream. The work that they created has a timeless quality that is lacking from a lot of covers where commercial considerations are foremost.
These examples of Yeats’ designs cover a twenty year period from 1958. It would be hard to guess the year that any of them was designed just from looking at the cover. Particularly strong is the illustration on B’Fhiú an Braon Fola which wraps around to the back. The book is an account of Séamas Ó Maoileóin’s involvement in the Rising, War of Independence and the Civil War. The title translates as ‘The drop of blood was worth it’ but Yeats’ gory depiction is far less glorious.
Less obviously figurative but equally striking is the cover of Máirtín Ó Cadhain’s An tSraith ar Lár. The grey background is in fact a metallic silver ink which really sets off the rough pen and ink illustration.
Cor Klaasen Exhibition
Thank you to everyone who came along and supported the Cor Klaasen exhibition. The reaction was great and it was a pleasure to be able to present such a strong body of work to a wider audience. I would very much like to thank the Klaasen family for being so open and enthusiastic about sharing Cor’s work. You can view photos of the exhibition and opening here. I hope to add much more of his work to the website, www.corklaasen.com over the coming weeks.
November 3, 2010
After a couple of days of fevered activity, the Cor Klaasen exhibition is almost ready for this evening’s opening (Wed 3rd 6-8pm). It’s been a real struggle to select which covers to show as there is so much quality work to choose from. The show will be open from 11am – 5pm every day up to and including Wed 10th November. Please join us at the opening or drop by during the week and enjoy Cor’s wonderful work.
The following evening (Thurs 4th) I’ll be speaking about Cor’s work at Offshoot 4 in the Sugar Club.
Cor Klaasen: Jackets, Covers & Sleeves
Venue: Adifferentkettleoffishaltogether, 18 Ormond Quay Upper
Times: Daily 11 – 5pm. Thurs 4 – Wed 10 November inclusive
Opening: Wednesday 3 November, 2010, 6 – 8 pm. Guest Speaker: Brian Lalor
Sponsors: The Netherlands Embassy, Gill & Macmillan, Inspired Working and Hudson Killeen.