29 October 2011

The Brilliance of Frank Newfeld

Purchased for five dollars – five dollars! – during my most recent visit to Montreal, Ralph Gustafson's Rivers Among Rocks (McClelland and Stewart, 1960) provides an excuse to revisit the wonderful work Frank Newfeld. The cover may be a bit weathered, but it more than hints at the brilliance within.
Pardon my thumbs.

After all this beauty comes a lengthy "NOTE ON PUBLICATION":
This book is the result of a unique association dedication to improve of the standards of design and manufacturing in the making of Canadian books. It is the first of a group of selected works of poetry and belle lettres chosen both to inspire and to complement fine craftsmanship in the designing and manufacturing arts.

It has been published in a limited edition and will not be republished in this format. Its publication is experimental in the sense that the strict economic limitations that might normally prevail were waived to permit adequate attention in the various stages of production.

It was planned and illustrated by Frank Newfeld, a brilliant young Canadian designer, typographer and art director, whose work has earned him an imposing series of awards in various fields of design.

It was produced under the joint auspices of the Polland Paper Company Limited who supplied the stock, Laurentic Japan and Rolland Extra Stong; H & S Reliance Limited who supplied engravings for the illustrations, the jacket, and the case; T. H. Best Printing Company Limited, in whose plant the type was set and the books printed and bound; and McClelland and Stewart Limited.
Of that "group of selected works of poetry and belle lettres", I think it ranks second only to Newfeld's work on Leonard Cohen's The Spice-Box of Earth.

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  1. Pleased to finally meet the Busby thumbs, so well manicured. If all else fails, you have a future as a hand model. More pleased, however, to meet this book, which I was unaware of. Thanks, Brian.

  2. Somehow I am getting a vicarious thrill. I can easily picture you finding this in the bookshop and being sent into a swirl of ecstasy. I know it all too well. What a gorgeous book. You have turned me onto Frank Newfeld, an artist of whom I knew nothing before today.

  3. I had no idea that Frank Newfeld illustrated works for adults. I'm enjoying sharing Dennis Lee's "Alligator Pie", "Garbage Delight" and "Nicholas Knock" with my children, who love them as much as I did, although the illustration for "In Kamloops" still disturbs me as much as when I was little.

  4. Stephen, Good to know I have something to fall back on. And here my mother was pushing medical school.

    John, It was indeed a thrill to find this book - I'd only before seen the cover - particularly at a bookstore in which, years ago, I made so many other wonderful discoveries.

    Wendy, And I didn't know of Newfeld's work for children. But of course I've see and appreciated it nearly my whole life!

  5. Newfeld made an immense contribution to Canadian book design and typography with his distinctive and recognizable style.

    Further information on Newfeld can be found in:

    DA (The Devil's Artisan) A Journal of the Printing Arts: Number 65, Fall/Winter, 2009: Arnaud Maggs & Frank Newfeld. Erin, Ontario: DA, 2010 and

    Drawing on Type by Frank Newfeld, Erin, Ontario: Porcupine's Quill, 2008.

    The former issue of DA is largely devoted to Newfeld and his career and the latter is Newfeld's autobiography.

    Dan Mozersky.

  6. My thanks for passing these along, Dan. Both are very fine, beautiful and - I dare say - educational. There's much to learn from Mr Newfeld.

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  8. Frank Newfeld was my instructor as a Book Illustration student at Sheridan College circa 1991 -- closest I have ever come to a 'mentor' -- He gave me the greatest compliment I have ever rec'd, he told me I had "golden hands".

  9. I interviewed Frank for The Biblio File podcast in 2010. You might like to listen here: http://thebibliofile.ca/frank-newfeld-800911-01-mp3

    1. Thank you, Nigel. The man has received recognition, but never enough!