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Brian Cook was the nephew of the late Harry Batsford, chairman of the family publishing firm from 1917 to 1952. He himself became chairman of the company in 1952. His design work, almost exclusively for Batsford, was pioneering and timeless.
A timely publication of Brian Cook's wonderful, exuberant dust-jackets for Batsford's British town and countryside books from the Thirties and Forties. The only other book about his work was published by Batsford in 1987 (The Britain of Brian Cook) and I thought it had a serious editorial flaw in showing so much of his work in mono. The 108 illustrations in the book only had forty-eight in colour, though, admittedly, several of the black and whites were of Cook's lovely pen and ink illustrations. The book is well out of print and expensive but this latest book is so much better because it is all in color.
One feature in the 1987 book really should have been used in this new title: an explanation of the Jean Berte printing process. This gave the Batsford covers their unique look. The process used rubber plates and five waterproof inks, the three primary colours, grey and black as a fifth working to tighten up the look of the designs and for the type. It was the overprinting of these flat colours that created the rich, vibrant designs. Perhaps more importantly to the look of the covers was the fact that the rubber plates were cut by hand which meant that the design had to be fairly easy to create. Fine lines were only possible in black.
It still needed the creativity of Brian Cook to decide what colours to use for each cover. I was loved his use of solid mauve for hills and trees and the way the really bright yellow almost jumped off some covers. These books must really have stood out in bookshops back then.
The book is a wonderful page-turner and every page sparkles with remarkable cover artwork.Read more ›
as the previous reviewer noted, there are several full page 'details' whose inclusion is incomprehensible-- seemingly chosen at random, and barely any different in scale from the originals on the facing pages. what a waste of space! the text accompanying the illustrations is dreary and repetitive. after all this i suppose i shouldn't be surprised that the notes on the front inside flap of the book's cover are pointlessly repeated on the back flap. i give 5 stars for the artwork but minus two for everything else.
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