Sunday, October 06, 2013

The Bookplates of Fridolf Johnson

For the next few weeks I plan to focus on bookplate artists about whom very little has been written.
Fridolf Johnson ( 1904-1988) was a collector , author and designer. His book A Treasury of Bookplates from the Renaissance to the Present was published in 1977 and is still one of the best starter books for  collectors . Is is readily available and inexpensive.
With your help I hope to seed a fairly complete check list. If you have bookplates he designed which  are not shown please send me a scan(s) and they will be added to this posting.
Send your scans to

*Biographical Note

"Author, illustrator and calligrapher Fridolf Johnson (1905-1988) studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and then remained in Illinois for nine years as art director for the Frankel-Rose Agency. He moved to California in 1942, free- lancing in San Francisco and operating Contempo Art Service in Hollywood. After ten years on the West Coast, Johnson left for New York in 1952 where he worked as a designer and professional calligrapher. From the 1950s into the 1960s, Johnson became increasingly interested in printing and typography. He established his own private press, the Mermaid Press, and became an active member of the Typophiles, Junkateers, Zamorano Club, and New York Chappel of Private Presses. From 1962 until 1970 Johnson was the executive editor of American Artist and contributed myriad book reviews and articles for the periodical. He wrote on topics ranging from contemporary graphic art, lithography, and printmaking to book illustrations, bookplates, and the artists Rockwell Kent and William Morris. Johnson also wrote A Treasury of Bookplates from the Renaissance to the Present, co-authored 200 Years of American Graphic Art, and edited Rockwell Kent: An Anthology of His Work. Examples of his calligraphy and print specimens can be found in the collections of several museums, galleries, and public libraries, including the New York Public Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Johnson resided in Woodstock, New York, until his death in July 1988".

*Extracted from The University of Delaware Library  website where his papers (1950-1985)  are housed.

On the back of the Robert E. Hill plate Fridolf Johnson wrote "A trial run printed on my own Mermaid Press
before sending the drawing to Dr. Hill"

I have a two page letter by Fridolf Johnson dated June 19, 1930 in which he explains that his friend
Herman C. Johnson was
"an an inveterate elbow-bender. When I made up the rough sketch I had no idea that he would ask me to complete it for I meant it only as a sly commentary on his habits."

Mystery Bookplate
Does anyone out there know anything about the owner/artist Margery Rand?

See You Next Sunday

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