I hope to write about the ABPA’s 1979–80 design awards in this issue, but my deadline has arrived and news of the winners has not. From the eligible titles that I have seen, my own choice as Book of the Year is Emily Hope’s The Queen of the Nágas, published in an edition of 500 copies by Nomad Press, of Melbourne, and distributed by William Collins.
This story of ancient Asia, illustrated with twenty large paintings by the author, was made into a book by that queen of designers, Alison Forbes. It was set in Palatino by Meredith Trade Lino and printed by C.S. Graphic Reproductions, of Melbourne. I cannot tell in how many colours the illustrations are printed, but they are as rich and strange as anything I have seen, with their washes of crimson, gold, purple, and blue – and even white, dammit, laid down on the cream paper. Some may feel that it is a triumph of production more than of design; but the book has a perfect simplicity and elegance. Alison Forbes’s choice of type and her leading and placement of it are such that every page looks like a message from the gods.
I admire all the details of The Queen of the Nágas: the generous landscape format, the cream Andorra text pages, and the gold Glastonbury endpapers, the subdued brown of the printed paper case beautifully chosen to highlight the glowing illustration on the front board. Three picas.
Marjorie Tipping’s Ludwig Becker (Melbourne University Press in association with the State Library of Victoria) is a magnificent monument to the artist and naturalist who went with Burke and Wills in 1860. Len Trenkner designed it, Dova Type Shop did the setting, Wilke and Co. were the printers, and Carlton & United Breweries provided financial assistance, which must have been substantial.