there is nothing particularly modern about this collection but it falls in line with my love of the letterhead. when starting out as a graphic designer, i loved the application of an identity system, which meant designing the letterhead and invoice for a company. i saw unlimited possibilities when given this particular assignment and i have never lost my zeal for the letterhead. i don’t recall when I first bought these particular examples but I do recall when i discovered the 19th-century invoice. i have mentioned the paper fair in allentown before and the discovery of postal history. what caught my eye was a basket with these letters. staring out at me was a wonderful cancellation mark for new york. the dealer explained a little about postal history which i knew absolutely nothing. i was not interested in the letter or “cover,” as I learned it was called, but only in the cancellation. it was a wonderful piece of typography. i asked if i could open up the letter since it was not an envelope but paper folded in a particular way to make a self envelope. i’m not sure when the envelope became popular and there is much to read about its development and birth. i do know that these early invoices were folded into self-made envelopes. when it was opened, i discovered a wonderful invoice with superb 19th-century typography and amazing handwriting. there are several examples of french invoices and two american examples. imagine taking the time to write these out today.
i don’t know in what year irving rosenstein attend the philadelphia textile school. i do know that i have many of the “studies” he did while in attendance there. here are two amazing examples: one labeled “plaid pattern with neutral color scheme” and the other “complementary colors in plaids.” both are done in gouache with expert care. these are part of a collection of gouache studies that cover a wide range of subjects and they brought back memories of my own art school education.
i remember my mother taking me to the birmingham museum of art for watercolor lessons when I was eight. my memories of the museum include a painting by hans hoffman, a wonderful abstract with a huge blob or drip that stood an inch away in relief from the canvas. i was unable to find an image of that exact painting and was disappointed that it did not come up when i searched the museum’s website. i also came to appreciate the hudson river school painters. the museum has wonderful examples and years later I would return to write a high school paper on the movement.
when I was 13, my mother would drive me to pell city, alabama, (40 miles from our home) for watercolor lessons with wayne spradley. he was a regional artist who painted landscapes and rural scenes that my mother loved. she saw no impediments in exposing me to the arts. she herself knew little about the art world but she made sure I would. her zeal and fortitude last to this day.
mr. rosenstein’s ability is a marvel. i attended the rhode island school of design and studied color with akefeh nurosi. i learned the fine art of gouache myself. we had many assignments to learn the skill of color mixing, gradation, complementary colors, etc. i was proud of my skills though i don’t think they came close to those of mr. rosenstein. quite possibly mine would have been rejected.
a primary love of mine is the czech avant-garde. i have many wonderful examples that i intend to share. here are four covers of typ, a journal for the printing industry. a friend in prague who deals in the czech avant-garde and whom i met through ebay said the following about this publication:
“it’s an unusual magazine as it was aimed at ‘yuppies,’ young people in sales and printing industries, etc. making some cash in the ‘30s—almost like a lifestyle mag for people in those emerging employment areas. published by sfinx – b.janda, i think it began circa 1926 and ran for many years. jindrich styrsky was very associated with sfinx covers and made a lot of their book covers anonymously. i’m in agreement with some other opinions that many ‘30s typ covers are by styrsky, usually the black-&-white ones with a large black-&-white photo in the center column. yours look later and styrsky died in 1942, so my guess is they are not styrsky.”
there are many reason why i find these cover engaging but primarily it has to do with type and image: the wonderful juxtaposition of the photo with typography. these are as fresh today as they must have been in 1947 when they were done.