Saturday, September 4, 2010

A little gem of a book, without a place on the shelf

A few years ago, at a point when Dover started to look at what I brought in with some real interest, I began acquiring more books to impress upon them. At a local convention I found what appeared to me a solid hit: from 1902, it was well old enough to be in the public domain (always makes it easier...) a neat little tome with some well executed illustrations. A plus for me—it was called Viking Tales. After pirates, Vikings might be my next big weakness in subject matter....

These weren't run-of-the-mill 1902 book illustrations—they have a distinct design quality about them, I think that the artist, Victor Lambdin, was letting Art Nouveau work of the period influence his style of illustration, (look at that branch work in the chapter head, "Harald's Battle") here in this little book of Viking Tales. I'm guessing it didn't go over real big at the time, because I can find almost no other books that Lambdin worked on other than Viking Tales. His name does turn up in a few magazines during the first few years of the 20th century, but it doesn't look like he made a deep career of illustration.

Dover's considered this book on two separate occasions, (under two different regimes) but nobody seems to feel it has enough draw to print it. (it's the story that seems to be the hard sell, not the art...) While the art has a slightly juvenile quality, I like the sparse, clean ink work, and the pattern-like motifs used to fill distinct areas. If this interests you enough, it can be had as a download from—and there are plenty of print-on-demand vendors who can get you a hard-copy, if you can't turn over an early edition from abe, or alibris.

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