Berlin: Einhorn-Presse, 1927. Tall quarto. (24)pp. From an edition of 600 copies, this is one of only five printed on vellum and with text calligraphed by Melchior Lechter. In addition to writing the text, Lechter also designed the book, including initial letters of gold backed with green leather and onlaid to the pages, and the decorated borders, which are printed in gold and bear printed almond-shaped medallions at their lower sections. These medallions, reminiscent of the iconographic mandorla, each show a distinct mystical design, incorporating symbols and imagery from a variety of Eastern and Western faith traditions, along with other esoteric elements. The book is not shy about the Theosophical overtures of its tale or of its author; it begins and concludes with Hindu lettering in gold, as well as, on the final page, a six-pointed star with four rays suffused with Buddhist symbology, its basic floral outline mirrored in the gold borders. The story itself is an allegorical fairy tale grappling with the nature of being, of light and darkness, and of the interconnectedness of all things. Such motifs stem from Lechter's imagination, which burgeoned with cosmic philosophies after his 1906 journey to the Theosophical Society Adyar in India. The material magnificence of this publication—the sumptuousness of its giltwork, the polished lettering by hand and by type—matches the profundity and grand mystery with which the Theosophists of the early twentieth century grappled.
Lechter, a leading graphic designer of the German Jugendstil, founded the Einhorn-Presse in 1911. There he oversaw the typography, ornamentation, decorative initials, illustrations, and bindings of his books. His initial efforts were strongly influenced by the English Pre-Raphaelites and William Morris, but he was soon responsible for freeing typographical thinking within the Jugendstil movement and bringing about a shift from a floral style to greater abstraction. This book is a choice example from this important Press.
Bound in full blue-green morocco, with four dark blue square inlays on each cover, all heavily gilt. Bordered with cradle devices and corner pieces, all ornate and stamped in gold. Center ruled lines done in pointillé. All edges gauffered and gilt. Spine lightly faded and hint of rubbing to extremities, else a fine copy. Housed in slipcase. Item #30690