Anvil covers by Joe O’Byrne, 1965

October 8, 2011

Freemantle Mission, Seán Ó Lúing, Anvil Books, (1965). Cover design: Joe O’Byrne

The mystery of the Casement ship, Captain Karl Spindler, Anvil Books, (1965). Cover design: Joe O’Byrne

The Clanking of Chains, Brinsley MacNamara, Anvil Books, (1965). Cover design: Joe O’Byrne

Above are three covers for Anvil Books designed by Joe O’Byrne in 1965. The post-nominal initials MIAPI after his credit for the Fremantle cover were the vital clue to who he might be. A member of the Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland, O’Byrne was working for O’Kennedy Brindley when he designed these covers, on the side, for Anvil. He later went on to found his own advertising agency, O’Byrne Associates, which gave Brennan’s Bread their distinctive yellow and red wrappers and the slogan “Today’s Bread Today”.

Anvil Books specialised in Irish history with a heavy leaning to Republican themes. The Clanking of Chains stands out for being a novel. O’Byrnes’ design echos MacNamara’s most infamous work, Valley of the Squinting Windows, placing a figure in a window as the only illustration in a predominately typographic treatment. To my mind, the Fremantle Mission is the most striking cover of the three. The orange of the sun really jumps out from the rust background.

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