This is an imposing, comprehensive work of reference of over a thousand pages. On them are some five hundred reproductions of popular prints and prints for children. These were widely distributed and much used from the second half of the seventeenth century up to the beginning of the twentieth. The prints were aimed at a broad public, as rewards for children or for teaching purposes. For adults there were cartoons, ‘staircases of life’ (showing the stages of human life from birth to death), and Catholic prints of the saints. The book contains a wealth of research covering areas from publishers and printers, production methods and prices to themes, censorship, distribution and use. It is illustrated with a substantial picture atlas and much reference material.
The panel were much impressed by the unobtrusive, effective and careful treatment of the vast volume of text and images. The book has an attractive dryness which is more sophisticated and complex than might be thought at first sight. For example, a deep blue spot colour has been used for captions, subheads and chapter titles. The appendix alone covers 290 pages of lists, notes, references, indexes etc., producing the clear and easy-to-follow typography for which is a prodigious feat. There was some criticism of the cover, where the image chosen rather interferes with the title and the authors’ names, and there were also some technical comments: the debossing on the front is slightly misaligned relative to the print, and the binding is not really up to coping with so massive a book block.
Piet Gerards and Maud van Rossum are to be congratulated on the consistently high quality of their approach to the typography and picture editing and layout.