The most striking printed gift I received this holiday season — being Jewish I get gifts a bit earlier than most of you — is the 2009 Rare Book Calendar from 42-line, a Bay Area firm that specializes in “digital publication services” for rare book dealers, libraries and book collectors. This means that 42-line deals with imaging, editing and other services related to the organization and archiving of books, manuscripts, photography, and other types of rare-materials collections.
The Calendar is small and of a non-standard shape — 11 inches tall by 6 inches wide — and would fit fine on a small bulletin board or hanging in even the tightest workspace. The structure, too, is somewhat unorthodox, or at least new to me: six pages have January through June on the front, at which time the calendar is flipped over, and July through December, printed on the rear, are then presented.
While the format is interesting and the typesetting is exceptionally clear (the principal type is Mark van Bronkhorst‘s subtly beautiful MVB Verdigris, one of my favorite text faces of the last several years, and the calendar itself was designed by the type designer), the calendar is really about its illustrations: each month is accompanied by a printed reproduction from an important piece of bibliographic history. January’s Giovanni Battista Ferrari copperplate engraving of an amaryllis is a beautiful example of 17th-century lettering and illustration, and some of them are very funny — Benjamin Warner’s 1821 Tragi-Comic History of the Burial of Cock Robin, for example, and an engraving of a dog taking a very unfortunate swim by the always-surreal William Blake.
I feel like I must have done something to warrant such a nice gift, but I can’t quite remember what it was. It’s available for a mere $10 and is a good introduction to an interesting company.