I love all of the New Yorker Albums that have come out in the magazine’s 92 years, but this one I like maybe just a teeny-tiny bit more than many of the rest (partially due to the fact that it was a gift from Jack Ziegler, back in the days when I was building a set of all the albums, with their dust jackets. Jack’s copy arrived with a gold star on it, which, as you can see, is still there).
Published in 1933 by Harper & Brothers, the 6th Album sports a collage cover by Harry Brown (who contributed 18 covers to the magazine from 1931 thru 1937); the collage was a first — it was the first time the magazine allowed something other than a reproduction of one of its covers to grace an Album. I like the burst of color, but am thrilled the cover’s designer left the Thurber drawings, running up the strap, in black and white.
Starting top left on the cover, we see Otto Soglow’s Little King and his Queen and a couple of footmen in red with yellow sashes. Going clockwise, Peter Arno’s “Major” and his wife, then down at the bottom at the cover, Rea Irvin’s iconic Eustace Tilley. On the left is a William Steig father holding his son. In the middle of the cover, two Barbara Shermund ladies standing close to each other; directly below them, a classic Helen Hokinson woman (a so-called Hokinson “lunch lady”) holding her dog.
The inside cover flap shows us a partial list of the artists represented:
Looking through this Album I’m always struck by the variety. Variety of sensibilities, of art, of subject. Published just eight years after the very first issue of The New Yorker appeared on newsstands it’s loaded with artists whose work is instantly recognizable. It’s an excellent portrait of the New Yorker‘s first stable; a wealth of exceptionally talented artists such as Peter Arno, Helen Hokinson, James Thurber, William Steig, Barbara Shermund, Rea Irvin, Charles Addams, Otto Soglow, Carl Rose, Gluyas Williams, Whitney Darrow, Richard Decker, Syd Hoff, George Price, Alan Dunn, and Mary Petty.
Artistry was all over the place back in those early years (there’s a huge difference in Thurber’s work from Reginald Marsh’s, or Soglow’s from Perry Barlow’s). What a fun, exciting, beautiful mix.
Note: you can sometimes find a copy of this collection in used bookstores, or here online (although I don’t see any listed, at the moment, with a dust jacket). With the dust jacket, or without, you’re still in for a real treat.