Thursday, January 14, 2010

Antioch Bookplate Company IV

The opening page of this 1944 catalog illustrated, for the first time, the reproduction of Spitzweg’s “The Bookworm” that shows an elderly gentleman standing on the top of a library stepladder in front of a tall bookcase reading one book while holding another in his right hand, a third book under his left elbow and a fourth between his knees. This design was still carried in their 1990s catalog, although recut earlier; however, the original artist was identified only in the 1959 catalog.

Designs featuring silhouette images and a Viennese scherenschnitte were offered in the 1944 catalog and a few of these and others became dated. Two innovations also appeared in 1944. The first was a series of twelve zodiac designs created by Juanita Gould [see Bookplates in the News, #97, July 1994] without Antioch catalog numbers. The other was the introduction of color in a series of ecclesiastical designs by John Huchthausen and a series of five in bright colors by Owen Wise.

When the Company incorporated after World War II, employees were allowed to nominate two of their own board members, a practice that continues to this day. The company grew and prospered. While producing most of America’s bookplates, the Antioch shop also published the Yellow Springs newspaper.

The 1959 Antioch catalog of 32 pages announced the company’s acquisition of the bookplate designs Rockwell Kent had prepared for the Greenland Press and the designs of the Etchcraft Company (the best of the entire series catalogued as E) and illustrated eight designs (printed in brown or blue) commissioned from Lynd Kendall Ward [see Bookplates in the News, #105a, July 1996]. For the first time in this catalog, most of the images are accompanied with the artist’s name. Robert Whitmore’s design of a tree rooted in a book, first published as M7, is shown in its recut version. A more recent publication by Antioch explains this design as “the whitmore tree. knowledge and growth, two items necessary for learning, are timelessly represented in the graphic of a strong, healthy tree being nurtured by a large book. This icon, popularly referred to by Antioch employees as “The Whitmore Tree,” was designed by Robert Whitmore in the late 1920’s exclusively for Antioch Bookplate. Ernest Morgan, our founder, fondly remembered this graphic as one of his first purchased (and favorite) bookplate designs, which he commissioned from his good friend Robert. It is our most enduring design and still one of the most active bookplates in our line. It is also the basis for our current logo [again recut].”

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