Category Archives: Collecting

For a Friend

'Bandoneon' (partition illustrée par Raymond Erny, 1927)
‘Bandoneon’, tango by André Sab. Published by Sam Fox (1927, Paris) and illustrated by Raymond Erny.

A one minute silence. Is there a worthy substitute for written blogs?
This short post is dedicated to our friend Bram Huijser who passed away last week at the age of 94. He was a follower of these pages and an enthusiastic collector of books. Bram, born and raised in Amsterdam, was gentle and broad-minded. He kept his wonderful library, especially of children’s literature, in his house in Musselkanaal in the province of Groningen, The Netherlands. Wherever you looked: books and books and books!

Bram Huyser (1922-2016)
Bram Huijser (1922-2016) and part of his collection of children’s books published by Kluitman (Alkmaar).

suusBram particularly liked —and fervently told us about— the illustrations of Fré Cohen, a Dutch female designer and member of the Workers’ Youth Association. She became one of the favourite designers of the socialist movement. Her life ended tragically in 1943 when she took a lethal pill escaping imprisonment by the Dutch SS who had tracked her down when in hiding.

Two Dutch book covers designed by Fré Cohen (1932).
Two Dutch book covers designed by Fré Cohen (publisher Em. Querido, Amsterdam, 1931 & 1932). [source Bram Huijser collection]
Bram revealed us he met his wife during the war while he secretly delivered the resistance newspaper of the Communist Party De Waarheid (literally The Truth). One of the subscribers was her brother, and that’s how he met Mies. They fell in love and got married after the Liberation.

We traded a few sheet music. One of them was a song about children collecting colourful cigar bands, which Bram promptly started to sing with a clear voice.

‘Heeft u een sigarenbandje?’ by Eddy Noorddijk & Kovacs Lajos (Louis Schmidt). Published by Cor B. Smit’s Muziekhandel, Amsterdam (sd).

I remember that Bram liked cats, the bandoneon and traditional music. I thought it a bit odd that he so admired the Flemish television crime drama series Witse. Apart from our love for well-done illustration work, we shared a long-time closeness to the music of The Dubliners and the melancholic folk songs of Wannes Van de Velde, a hippy bard who is world famous in Antwerp.

This one is for you Bram!

A Picture (or Two) is Worth a Thousand Words (2)

We recently came across a third copy (on the right) of ‘Sérénade Divine‘ which is printed in brown and gold, using an ink pigmented with bronze powder. The moon completely faded away and Pierrot looks like shrubbery.

We continue our search for bizarre double items in our collection of sheet music. In a previous post, we showed the creativity of illustrators and/or music publishers to produce additional print runs. We don’t have the answers on the why and when of graphical omissions, additions and changes. Some were intended and crudely created. Others happened brilliantly by accident or were economically inspired. When stumbling on these trouvailles we are puzzled, disconcerted, amused or perplexed. Perhaps you’ll share these emotions with us when comparing the following pairs…

Emigrant Valsen‘ (1928): migration to America as the topic of a waltz. Harald Gelotte illustrated the dramatic experience differently for Swedish (left) and Norwegian migrants (on the right). Even the three funnels of the ocean liner had to be decorated correspondingly.
Sheet Music illustrated by R. Keuller (Reine Astrid, partition illustrée par Renée Keuller)
Both covers were designed by Renée Keuller for the 1936 commemoration of Astrid of Sweden, queen of Belgium between 1934 and 1935. She died at the age of 32 in a car crash, and was mourned in Belgium (left cover) in a different style than in Sweden (right edition).
'Paris-Berlin, 1915' sheet music, march by A. Hannay (partition illustrée)
Both these covers seem to make reference to an (implausible) automobile race during WWI. The right copy is a bit more joyous.
In the Forties the publisher relaunched Hannay’s march of WWI, with a makeover of the cover.
Newspaper seller, illustration by Candido de Faria
The drawing by Faria of a running newspaper seller has been reused, and enhanced with an additional bed scene, by another publisher for a different song (with almost the same title). Strange.
The left cover for ‘Susie‘ is likely Roger de Valerio’s original design for the American song (‘If You Knew Susie’) that Salabert launched in France in 1925. Later, when the song became a success at the Moulin Rouge revue, it was important to put a photograph of hit-machine Mistinguett on the cover, thus spoiling the elegance, simplicity and delicacy of the first design.

If you’ve never been to the Moulin Rouge to hear Mistinguett sing Susie, here is your chance!

Perhaps you’d prefer to hear and see the American ‘Susie‘? We found this version sung by Eddie Cantor:

We close this post with a wonderful design for the cover of ‘If You Knew Susie’ by Orla Muff (1925). Classy!


Recto Verso De Luxe

'Poèmes chantées', music by Charpentier
Poèmes chantés‘, music by Gustave Charpentier (Tellier, Paris, s.d., illustrated by George Rochegrosse)

Often the back cover of sheet music shows publicity or part of the publisher’s music catalogue. It is seldom blank. But it is much rarer that the back cover (verso) is illustrated to form a whole with the front. Something that today is common on e.g. book wrappers. In our collection of sheet music we found only six of such ‘full covers’. These were probably luxury editions as we can imagine the cost of making such large lithographic plates. We happily share these ‘specials’ with you.

'Chansons frêles'
Chansons frêles‘ composed by André Fijan (Ricordi, Paris, s.d., illustrator unknown)
'Renouveau', composed by Augusta Holmes
Renouveau‘ composed by Augusta Holmes (Ricordi, Paris, 1894, illustrated by Alfredo Montalti)
'l'Elégant - quadrille: Aux dames de France', music by Casquil, dance by E. Louis (publisher unknown, s.d., illustration signed E.D. monogram)
l’Elégant – quadrille: Aux dames de France‘, music by Casquil, dance by E. Louis (publisher unknown, s.d., illustration signed E.D. monogram)
''t Is Feest in het land...', music by P. Standaart (Vlieger, Rotterdam, s.d., illustrated by Hendrik van Kesteren) Click image to enlarge
‘t Is Feest in het land…‘, music by P. Standaart (Vlieger, Rotterdam, s.d., illustrated by Hendrik van Kesteren)
'Klingende Illustrierde', music by various composers (Curtius, Berlin, 1943, illustrated by Kurt Hilscher) Click image to enlarge
Klingende Illustrierte‘, music by various composers (Curtius, Berlin, 1943, illustrated by Kurt Hilscher)