Calligraphic Book Jackets Rediscovered

Misha Beletsky, the art director of Abbeville Press for the past ten years, recently authored “The Book Jackets of Ismar David.” If you never heard his name, you are not alone. I thought I new them all, and he is new to me too. David (1910- 1996) was an accomplished calligrapher, who turned to jacket design when calligraphy was popular in the late 40s and 50s. The work is reminiscent of George Salter, but with a typographic flair of his own.

His logos for Knopf, Golden Press and Riverside Press are simple and illustrative. Some of his work involved Hebrew lettering, including his typeface David Hebrew. Read more about David’s life here. See his electronic archive here. And the RIT Archive here.

Beletsky‘s study is No. 26 in The Typophiles Monograph New Series published by the RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, and available here.

2 thoughts on “Calligraphic Book Jackets Rediscovered

  1. Ellen Shapiro

    Nice. I reviewed “The Work of Ismar David” in the January 2008 issue of Print:

    Israeli calligrapher and designer Ismar David (1910–1996) deserves to be better known. Perhaps this beautifully printed, 154-page monograph from RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press will help make that happen. David’s work may be familiar to those who’ve admired old-fashioned dust jackets with calligraphic titles in their parents or grandparents’ bookcases, or who once-upon-a-time got a bar mitzvah certificate from the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.”