SIGNATURE Signature. A Quadrimestrial of Typography and Graphic Arts, First Series, Nos. 1-15, New Series, Nos. 1-18, together 33 vol. (complete)
Lot 132
SIGNATURE Signature. A Quadrimestrial of Typography and Graphic Arts, First Series, Nos. 1-15, New Series, Nos. 1-18, together 33 vol. (complete)
Sold for £720 (US$ 1,210) inc. premium
Lot Details
Signature. A Quadrimestrial of Typography and Graphic Arts, First Series, Nos. 1-15, New Series, Nos. 1-18, together 33 vol. (complete), edited by Oliver Simon, numerous plates (some colour or folding) and illustrations, prospectus loosely inserted in volume one, 2 autograph note by Simon on headed paper tipped-in, short tear to a few pages of one issue, publisher's wrappers, 8vo, Signature, 1935-1954; together with a collection of approximately 41 autograph letters, postcards and notes signed by Oliver Simon, and several by his wife Ruth Simon, duplicate copies of numbers one and nine of the First Series, three Type Face books for the Curwen Press, and a copy of Artists at Curwen Press (collection)


  • A complete set of Signature, edited by Oliver Simon and devoted to typography and the graphic arts. "It was obviously to appeal to printers and typographers but also to the artist by 'speaking his own language' and introducing him to the work of his contemporaries" (Artists at Curwen, 1977). The quality of the series was established with the first issue, which featured contributions or illustrations by Paul Nash, Barnett Freedman, Eric Ravilious, Graham Sutherland, Edward Bawden, Harry Carter and Holbrook Johnson. Future contributors included John Piper, Edward Ardizonne, Reynolds Stone, John Nash, Stanley Morison, Lynton Lamb, Geoffrey Grigson, Francis Meynell. Simon oversaw each issue, notable for it's fine printing and use of colour lithography, and collotype reproduction, making it "a fitting monument to his own ideals of beautiful production" (ODNB). Publication was suspended between 1940 and 1946, as all the artists had joined the war effort, and the fact that "Curwen Press received a direct hit from a high-explosive bomb whilst Number 15 was in process of being printed" (New Series, No. 1).

    This set is from the collection of Linda Ritson, who contributed an article on "Arthur Christian, Director of the Imprimerie Nationale 1895-1906" to New Series, Number 9. She first contacted Oliver Simon in 1947, sending cuttings of theatre reviews she wrote for The Jewish Outlook (he responded "These are really promising... you must now write for a publication with a wider field"), then taken up a rare vacancy at the Curwen Press for a year under the tutelage of Simon, after which their friendship continued until his death in 1956. Most of the correspondence is on Simon's personal headed paper, or that of Signature or Curwen Press, with some postcards or informal notes. In 1948 he sent a number of letters relating to the Arthur Christian article, one addressed to "Dear active, energetic and so far successful Linda", outlining a suggested synopsis and recommending the "St. Brides Typographical library [as...] most excellent and exclusive" and that "at a later stage a visit to Paris will be necessary", and as late as 1954 he writes "Now that Signature is over (it happened also with the prewar series) a lot of people are now sending in orders... speaking for myself I am glad to have a rest... and take this opportunity of thanking you once more for your support, help and your great contribution to No.9". Many of the letters provide information on Simon's activities within the printing world; In October, 1948 Simon happily reports that "order for Signature have been pouring in, including many from Denmark, Sweden and the U.S.A...", in November, 1950 on a note headed "Bulletin Typographique" he mentions that "The five weeks strike of the London Society is just over. We were lucky - they could not touch the apprentices... but Signature will be very late in consequence... we have recently had a visit from the new curator at the Plantin Museum - a personal young man... Both Meynell & Morison have read my article and it is undergoing final revision... a fat man in Brussels told Anne [J. Davis] he had read an excellent article by une belle femme on Arthur Christian", in 1951 discussing "the Paris Exhibition catalogues which I have not seen yet & I gather typography takes somewhat a back seat... we gave a small wine drinking party... [to a] couple of dozen people including The Lanes, Brooks, Wardrops, Brian Reader... and the Ardizonnes", and in the same year, in reference to his silver wedding, "...Charles Moser is the one childhood friend I still see and like.... we asked him [to the Café Royal] but he has been ill again and sent off to Ireland. He gave us a magnificent large glass vase on which Reynolds Stone had engraved his dedication... a fine monument of these two men...". Further letters include "Ellic Howe has already resigned from Hatchards" (19.5.52), "Signature No. 17 is very late but is now on the machine. No 18 is full up and will be our last number - we are going to take a long rest. Perhaps we shall start a third series one day" (24.4.53), "Dr. Madersteig was in England... The Double Crown committee stood him a magnificent lunch" (1954), and thanking Linda for sending a copy of L'Oeil "which I like, it seems to me both lively and entertaining..."
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