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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Menno Hertzberger catalogue poster

Booksellers throughout the centuries have advertised their books in various print forms from broadsides and newspapers to the most popular medium of the last few centuries--the catalogue. Until recently, though, I'd never come across anything that advertised the advertisement. That appears to be what Dutch bookseller Menno Hertzberger (1897-1982) did with this 14 X 18-inch poster.


I say appears because this could have been a poster created from the catalogue cover by someone who just liked the cover and wanted a large copy suitable for framing.

However, the trademark on the reverse side of the poster is Fotorite, a company that produced print processing products, including the paper upon which this catalogue image was printed.


Fotorite is or was owned by the Belgian company Agfa-Gevaert. A U.S. federal trademark registration was filed for the trademark above in 1966, but the company may have been in existence well before the trademark filing. Given the proximity of Menno Hertzberger in Amsterdam to Agfa (pre-1964 merger with Gevaert) in Belgium, it is conceivable that Hertzberger's company used Agfa's Fotorite company to print a poster replica of Catalogue 241's cover art.

I only bring up that bit of investigative evidence in an attempt to date this poster and support the assumption that it was produced about the time Hertzberger's Catalogue 241 was published and that it was used as a  promotional item for that catalogue.

Catalogue 241 was issued in 1963, according to a current dealer listing. The provenance of the poster is unknown to me, so I can only speculate that it was created as an advertising piece for  the catalogue.


Then again, the image presented on the catalogue cover, views of an early printing press, is pretty interesting and would look nice displayed in a frame. Whether or not that was the intent of an individual other than Hertzberger,  that is the reason I bought it.

Menno Hertzberger was an antiquarian bookseller, who at the young age of 23, started his own company, the Internationaal Antiquariaat, in Amsterdam in 1920. In the 1930s he founded the Dutch Association of Antiquarian Booksellers. World War II dealt him a devastating blow, not only wiping out his business, but his family as well.

He rebuilt his business and his life from scratch after the war and even helped found the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) in 1947. He had a remarkable career as an antiquarian bookseller and wrote extensively about bibliography and the history of the book.

The subject of Black on White (Catalogue 241), a history of printing and famous presses, is an appropriate one to have as a catalogue representative of Menno Hertberger's passion for books and printing history. I'm sure, though, that most of his catalogues could be deemed worthy representatives of that passion.


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