The Garden by Moonlight Coburn, Alvin Langdon  (American, 1882-1966)

This is one of the finest examples of the photographically illustrated book and among the few where the photographer himself produced the photogravures. The Door in the Wall is a landmark in the history of the photographically illustrated book, representing the first true collaboration of author, photographer and typographer. Designed in the elegant Arts-and-Crafts style, it was printed on French hand-made paper at Goudy’s Village Press in an edition of 600 copies. In fact, only 300 copies contain the full complement of Coburn’s rich photogravures, due to some being damaged in shipment and being replaced by aquatones

Set at The Village Press, this book was set by Bertha S. Goudy, wife of the designer of the types and decorations, Frederic W. Goudy, and printed under his supervision by Norman T. A. Munder & Company in Baltimore. Goudy produced his first ‘hit’, Kennerley Old Style, for this book. A typographical error is hand corrected in ink on page 150 by Frederic W. Goudy and initialed `FWG’ by the famed type designer. Bertha Goudy had worked as a bookkeeper at the same firm with Frederic W. Goudy and was still perfecting her typesetting skills in 1911. Obviously Frederic W. Goudy was also still perfecting his proofreading skills to let this error proceed as far as the bound copies.

Between 1902 and 1911 Goudy designed many of his typefaces not for type foundries but for businesses. He pioneered the idea of the custom or bespoke typeface with his work for the Pabst Brewing Company, the clothier Kuppenheimer & Company, Mandel Brothers department store, financial news publisher Clarence Barron, Baltimore printer Norman Munder and, most importantly of all, book publisher Mitchell Kennerley.* Essentially Goudy took the notion of the private press typeface inaugurated by William Morris and extended it beyond the insular Arts & Crafts community to the larger world of commerce. Kennerley, the typeface designed for The Door in the Wall by H.G. Wells , was the turning point in his career, the moment when type design began to overtake lettering and private press printing as his principal activity. [1]

Reproduced / Exhibited

Weaver, Mike. Alvin Langdon Coburn, Symbolist Photographer, 1882-1966: Beyond the Craft. New York: Aperture, 1986. p. 67

Goldschmidt, Lucien, and Weston J. Naef. The Truthful Lens: A Survey of the Photographically Illustrated Book, 1844-1914. New York: The Grolier club, 1980. no. 155.

Coburn, Alvin L. Alvin Langdon Coburn and H.g. Wells: The Photographer and the Novelist. Champaign, Ill: University Library and Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1997.

Coburn, Alvin L, Karl Steinorth, Nancy Newhall, and Anthony Bannon. Alvin Langdon Coburn – Photographs, 1900-1924. Zürich: Stemmle, 1998. Plate 49.