Charles J Strong’s Book of Designs


Another gem from the cornucopia of scanned books at the Internet Archive, Charles J Strong’s Book of Designs was a style guide and motif resource for artists and amateur craftspeople tasked with the creation of advertising show cards or shop display signs. The book was first published by the Detroit School of Lettering in 1910, hence the heavy reliance on Art Nouveau flourishes which by this stage had degenerated from their Mucha-derived elegance into unbridled, and frequently undisciplined, rococo embellishments.


If a few of the designs lack Mucha’s care there are still some great examples here of generic Art Nouveau in its final days before Art Deco streamlined all those curves away. In the examples below a poster suggestion shows everyone’s favourite fin de sìecle gal, Salomé, while the final example shows one of Strong’s typeface designs. For anyone who likes the look of these pages but would prefer them in better quality, Dover Publications have a reprint scheduled for later this year.

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