W & W, Stockholm, 1965-66. 120, 120, 112, 112, 112, 112, 112, 112, 112, 112, 112, 112 pages. 4to (27 x 17,5 cm). Printed laminated card covers. 12 volumes, complete, in good condition. Illustrated in colour and black and white throughout. Production and typography by Erik Nitsche. Printed in Switzerland. Text in Swedish.
”Nitsche helped pioneer the concept of design authorship – and not just the navel-gazing books about and for designers (he never published a monograph) – but books that had broad audiences. Of course design was endemic to every subject he covered and his books were designed in an elegant contemporary manner. Design was but a frame with which he presented unique themes. Nitsche’s goal with, for example, The New Illustrated Library of Science and Invention, was to avail the reader of fascinating, subjects, like “A History of Ships and Seafaring” and “A History of Archaelogical Discoveries.” Through accessible formats these books were (and still are) “reader friendly” because the typographic and graphic entry-points were conceived to provide unique sensory experiences. This may sound a bit pretentious, but Nitsche’s books were anything but. Instead their elegance was a point of pride and a selling point for the reader. Another way to describe them is “generous:” Nitsche was indeed generous with white space and pictures alike. Whether addressing physics, occult sciences, fashion, or social progress, each 112-page volume generously presented a wealth of material in a sophisticated but not haughty manner.
He was passionate for images, which he personally selected for every book to heighten understanding and provide rational narrative flow. The type – he was compulsive about finding the perfect cuts of the quintessential faces – was classic, always justified, but routinely with a modern tweak in the column width and leading. Every book also contained a handsome timeline (he was truly the master of timelines) as a contextual signpost. /…/ After moving to Geneva in the early 1960s Nitsche Founded ENI, S.A. (Erik Nitsche International) to produce some of the finest illustrated history books ever designed. The first series, a twelve volume The New Illustrated Library of Science and Invention, with a multilingual print run of over two million copies, covered the histories of communication, transport, photography, architecture, astronomy, and the machine, and flight. Like Dynamic America, the pictures drove the text (although the text was written by esteemed authors). Nitsche dove headlong into the research himself and unearthed thousands of rare and never-before-seen archival images. In his mind’s eye he saw precisely how each image in concert with the next would tell the story.” Steven Heller. See also Eye No. 27, Vol. 7, Spring 1998 pp. 64-77.