ABC Gem Box
Kurt H. Volk.
ABC Gem Box: A Display of Skill in Typography, Volume II. New York: Kurt H. Volk, Inc., 1949. (AER8761)
In an edition of one thousand.
Typographer Kurt Volk (1884–1962) produced his ABC Gem Box in 1941. The edition of five hundred copies sold out quickly. Rather than reprinting it, “we felt that a dual purpose could be served by completely redesigning it,” he stated in his introduction to the 1949 edition. “We could satisfy the many as yet unfilled requests for the original edition and could offer an interesting companion piece to it.” Volume II consists of twenty-seven folded sheets printed with Volk’s composition for each letter of the alphabet displayed through a die-cut window. The elaborate three-color title and introduction sheet bears Volk’s initials, K, H (Hans), and V, arranged in the window. The various fonts used in the designs are identified inside each sheet.
Kurt Volk was born in Stuttgart. He studied book arts and apprenticed in Germany before immigrating to the United States in 1900. He directed the printing department at N. W. Ayer & Son, a pioneering advertising design firm located in Philadelphia, and founded Kurt H. Volk, Inc. in New York in 1927. An authority on manuscript illumination as well as typography, Volk was called upon to teach and lecture with regularity. Answers to the frequently asked questions he received he committed to his 1935 guide Using Type Correctly (Bridwell Special Reference Z250.V64), a Strunk and White of typography which included a plastic character count rule in a sleeve attached to the rear board. Volk produced a number of works in limited editions as Christmas remembrances, including Treasures from Shakespeare, 1961, also in the Bridwell collection (28576).