Czech bibliophile edition, in striking cubist binding, 1932


Karel SVOLINKSÝ; A. ŠKODA; Josef SPILKA: PANEVROPA. With 5 cliché repros of ink drawings in black and partly red by Karel Svolinský. Hranice: Josef Hladký 1932.

Karel SVOLINKSÝ (Illustrations, Typography); A. ŠKODA (Binding), Josef SPILKA (Text): PANEVROPA. Poems. With 5 cliché repros of ink drawings in black and partly red, whereof 1 a double title page and 4 full-paged illustrations, as well as typographical design by Karel Svolinský. (= Edice Amfora, 24) Hranice: Josef Hladký (Josef Špaček, Olomouc) 1932.

8vo. [1 leaf (front end paper)], [1 leaf (2nd blank end paper)], [not numb. p. 1-4 (title)], p. 5-60, [1 leaf (colophon)], [1 leaf (rear end paper)]. Letterpress and cliché printing, in original artist's binding by A. Škoda (signed »Vázal Škoda – Praha«), a full mottled beige morocco over cardboards with hand-sewn capitals, gilt cubist framing on boards and inner edges incorporating floral ornaments, gilt title on spine, as well as red end papers and gilt head cut.

Luxuriously bound copy no. 188 of a bibliophile edition with a small print run of 200 machine numbered copies signed by the author Josef Spilka. The volume contains 27 poems titled after European locations, thus together with the book title »Paneurope« it represents an homage to the 1st European unification movement bearing the same name founded in 1922.

Typeset in Romana III, an elegant and timeless type, and printed with wide margin on voluminous Zerkall mould paper the book may appear sober at first glance. Karel Svolinský’s surrealist drawings and A. Škoda’s decorative binding very much in Czech cubist tradition, however make it also an extravagant modernist experience.

Present bibliophile edition was brought to birth by Josef Hladký, a book artist, printer, publisher and hardcore bibliophile, who ran a private press in Hranice, as small town near Olomouc in Northern Moravia. Hladký specialised in bibliophile books, exclusive print portfolios and ex libris. He also edited a book series titled »Amfora«, of which »Panevropa« represents the 24th volume.

Binding: The majority of the print run was bound in beige wrappers with simple black title printing. Only a few copies were covered with an artist's binding on behalf of collectors. Present one was bound by Czech artist book binder A. Škoda (signed with gilt stamp in the bottom inner edge of the rear cover with »Vázal Škoda – Praha«). Škoda used a smooth beige morocco and hand gilded it in typical Czech cubist style with extensive geometrical frame work incorporating stylised tendrils.

Binding in parts with little shelf wear, otherwise very fine, probably unique copy of this bibliophile edition.

See Toman, Kubism, p. 167, no. 6.3.23 (with colour illustr.) for a similar Czech cubist binding.