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Odyssey of Homer (Limited Editions Club)

Contributed by Peiran Tan on Nov 25th, 2016. Artwork published in .
    Odyssey of Homer (Limited Editions Club) 1
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    In 1931, the Limited Editions Club in New York commissioned Jan van Krimpen to design a two-volume series for the Iliad and Odyssey of Homer. Shown in the images, the Odyssey is hard-bound with a dark blue cloth surface, contained in a yellow slipcase.

    The book title “The Odyssey of Homer” only appears on the spine in all caps, embossed in gold. Other than drop caps, there is no illustration inside. The pages’ top edge are gold glided, and the reading edges are deckled. Some pages are not even cut open.

    There are four kinds of watermark on many pages, indicating this paper is specially made for the job: lettering “The Limited Editions Club”; lettering “Homer’s Odyssey”; ornament; and human figure.

    This Homer was also the first use of Van Krimpen’s own typeface, Romanée, casted at 16-point. Romanée was an upright style originally conceived to accompany Enschedé's Kleine Text Cursyf (“[for] Small Text Italic” in English), rediscovered in its archive. At that point, Van Krimpen had yet to design his own Romanée italic. Therefore the introduction, which is set completely in italic, uses Monotype Van Dijck.

    This book has an edition of 1500, all signed by Van Krimpen himself. Photos are taken from my own copy, No. 352.

    Peter Matthias Noordzij of TEFF (The Enschedé Font Foundry) partially digitized Romanée with Fred Smeijers in 1995. This digital Romanée was based on the 16-point metal, and only has an upright. It was used to set a Van Krimpen biography, titled Adieu æsthetica & Mooie pagina’s, and also a subsequent small booklet, presumably an exhibition catalog, titled The Aesthetic World of Jan van Krimpen. Perhaps because the italics were never completely digitized, TEFF’s digital Romanée was never released.

    In TypeCon 2016 I met Smeijers, and asked him why it stalled. He responded, “[he and PMN] had a difference of vision” in how the italics should be digitized.

    Odyssey of Homer (Limited Editions Club) 2
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.
    Odyssey of Homer (Limited Editions Club) 3
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.
    Odyssey of Homer (Limited Editions Club) 4
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.
    Odyssey of Homer (Limited Editions Club) 5
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.
    Odyssey of Homer (Limited Editions Club) 6
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.
    Watermark: “The Limited Editions Club”
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Watermark: “The Limited Editions Club”

    Watermark: “The Limited Editions Club”
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Watermark: “Homer’s Odyssey”

    Watermark: “The Limited Editions Club”
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Watermark: ornament.

    Watermark: “The Limited Editions Club”
    Photo: Peiran Tan. License: CC BY-NC-SA.

    Watermark: Human figure.

    Typefaces

    • Romanée
    • Van Dijck

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    4 Comments on “Odyssey of Homer (Limited Editions Club)”

    1. Peiran Tan says:
      Nov 25th, 2016  11:46 pm

      Some more details on TEFF:

      Bram de Does (1934–2015) was a fervent admirer of Jan van Krimpen, especially his Romanée. When Enschedé bought photocomposition machines, they decided to make a photographic Romanée and consulted De Does.

      De Does thought it to be a terrible idea—Romanée’s charm partially rested in its size-specific designs. Enschedé then said to him—why don’t you design one? So De Does embarked on a journey of converting Romanée’s beauty into a photo-ready typeface: Trinité.

      Trinité later became so popular on its own that it was digitized as a PostScript Type 1 font. This digital Trinité was also a huge success. Peter Matthias Noordzij set up an Enschedé offshoot—TEFF—to manage its sales.

      TEFF did not really become a type business until the addition of other typefaces, such as De Does’s Lexicon.

    2. Nov 26th, 2016  10:37 pm

      Do you know whether the open initial in the fifth image is type? It is quite similar (but not identical) to the later Romulus Open. In Letters of Credit, Tracy mentions that Van Krimpen said the effect of these open caps, with intact profiles, pleased him more than the previous Lutetia Open, where the white line had been cut through the edges of the letters.

    3. Blythwood says:
      Aug 15th, 2017  4:56 pm

      That inital 'N’ is a beautiful piece of engraving. It also looks a lot like a simplified version of his initials for the Curwen Press, too. Of course Van Krimpen designed dozens of pieces of incidental lettering over his career.

      I vaguely wondered if it might be something from the archives but nothing in the Enschede specimens of 1768 or 1825 is even slightly similar.

    4. Blythwood says:
      Feb 16th, 2019  11:21 pm

      Incidentally, since it seems to be discussed nowhere else on the internet, I might as well put here that John Lane’s Amsterdam talk (24 mins in) mentions that about fifteen years ago Justin Howes discovered that there’s a complete type specimen of Christoffel van Dijck/Dyck in the National Archives in London. This is quite some discovery-I wasn’t previously aware of it, although I’ve now found that Lane mentions it in a 2013 article, because until then no historian of type design apparently knew such a thing existed: all there was to go on was an impressive, but jumbled-up specimen issued ten years after he died (see Shaw/Dutch Type), and some really nice fragments from an early specimen that had been cut up to put in a scrapbook. (There’s two eerily similar stories with-I think-the first German specimen of sans-serif types-it was thought that the only copy had been destroyed in WWII, but Sébastien Morlighem found another copy in Cambridge recently, and the famous 1592 Berner Specimen in Frankfurt which was also mislaid after the war.) Anyone fancy paying them to do a photograph?

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