from the magazine 'Idun', 1907 nr.27 - a facsimile of the Swedish original is linked from the foot of this page

A female book artist

A book clothed in a nondescript cover remains unnoticed by the public in general. That is why modern literature finds itself in a competitive market even in questions of its outer clothing. The production of elegant and tasteful book covers has become a significant branch of art and the young lady who the following lines are about has made the practice of this art her speciality.

These days it's not only the name of the author and the content of the book which are decisive for the purchaser. The outer dress under which it appears on the counter of the bookshop is not without significance for its fate. Our publishers know this very well. They know too, that they not only dealing with paper and print but that attention given to a tasteful presentation of an author's work is seldom wasted. The great Gyldendal publishing house in Copenhagen has perhaps taken this question of the elegant appearance of a book further than any other publishers in Scandinavia, but modern Swedish publishing has also to a rich degree taken advantage of the contribution of the artist. This magazine 'Idun' is an excellent example of the significance within journalism of the typographical packaging and the decorative treatment of the material.

There is nothing which is so extraordinarily easy to get used to as an improved standard of performance. The present reader of Idun probably finds it perfectly natural that every contribution to the newspaper has as far as possible its own special artistic character, but if you look up the newspaper for a few years ago, then you notice the difference.

Several of our artists have made the packaging of the book their speciality. Olle Hjortzberg, Agi Lindegren and Ernst Norlind have achieved admirable results in this area, and the name of Arthur Sjögren is indissolubly linked to the excellent editions of Strindberg. Today I'm presenting to the reader a female artist, who has achieved far too much artistic work in the same genre, for the public to continue in ignorance of her name. When you become familiar with someone's work, sooner or later you want to get to know the person who produced it.

Even someone who has only skimmed through the Swedish Tourist Association's recently published year-book for 1907, could not miss noticing the vignettes which introduce each essay and connect so organically and elegantly to the content. The artist is Miss Emmy Biberg. She's young, has studied at the Technical College in Stockholm, worked for three years at the Zachrisson Printing House in Gothenburg and for the last four years has been on the staff of the Central Printing House in Stockholm. The illustrations to the present article are examples of her work: book covers and vignettes are her speciality, and she produces masses of them with her highly-productive fingers. You have met her many times without knowing that it was she; but if you see that the publication has come from the Central Printers, then I am delighted to inform you that the packaging - often both elegant and imaginative - are for the most part her work. Many make a fuss about much less.

Thore Blanche

(author, journalist)

click for the whole article in Swedish