A Curious Work Whose Importance Dwarfs Its Size

by Admin on Sunday, December 13, 2009

in Printing

Wall, Bernhardt. The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine.  Nos. 1 (January 1948) through 12 (December 1948) (all published). [44806]

The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine,  No. 1 (January 1948)

The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine, No. 1 (January 1948)

Bernhardt Wall, the prolific American commercial engraver and visionary print maker, has often been compared to William Blake.  But whereas Blake’s private press endeavors tended toward the visionary and grandiose, Wall kept things whimsical, and sometimes thought small. Very small…

Witness The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine, a twelve-month run of one of the more diminutive serials in the history of modern American print — written, illustrated, and printed entirely by Wall himself in an edition of 60 copies per issue. Fitting to its minuscule format and hand-crafted manufacture, The Etcht Miniature Monthly presents the artist’s deeply personal vision of the West, art, baseball and other topics.
The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine, No. 9 (November 1948).

The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine, No. 9 (November 1948).

Wall began as a commercial illustrator and comic postcard artist, producing more than 5,000 card designs over the course of his career, many in support of America’s troops in WWI.  But a tour of the American West in 1915 marked a decisive turning point in his life.  During the journey, he sketched Native Americans, cowboys, landscapes and city views which he later printed and published as a portfolio of etchings called Under Western Skies.  The project was a financial success which encouraged Wall to relocate to California on a permanent basis, where he focused his efforts on the production of similar fine press etching projects, among them The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine.
Etching of a native American by Bernhard Wall

Etching of a Native American by Bernhard Wall

Etcher by Bernhard Wall

"Etcher" by Bernhard Wall

Etched text by Bernhard Wall

Etched text by Bernhard Wall

Wall understood the idiosyncratic nature of his endeavor, declaring to Jean Hersholt (original owner of the set here photographed) that “nothing like this has ever been done before” and offering to send issues 1 through 4 with no obligation to subscribe.

 A note from Wall to Hersholt

A note from Wall to Hersholt

The artist took as much care with the packaging of his miniature magazines as he did with their production, mailing each one in a custom-built cardboard folder marked with the issue date and number.

Issues 1 through 12 in protective envelops

Issues 1 through 12 in protective envelops

Custom chemise and 1/2 red morocco gilt slipcase

Custom chemise and 1/2 red morocco gilt slipcase

Issue 11 and protective housing

Issue 11 and protective housing

Complete sets of The Etcht Miniature Monthly Magazine are rarer than hen’s teeth.  For more information on the Hersholt collection, please contact us at artbook (at) fabernett (dot) com.  Wall’s career seems to be ripe for rediscovery.  As of today, very little information is available on the web, however, UT Austin maintains a Wall archive, with a website here, with a biographical sketch and information on several of his other printing projects.

FAB Item I.D. # 44806

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Arthur Sunday, January 10, 2010 at 1:01 AM

Thanks Rebecca, glad you like the Etcht. Bernhardt Wall is amazing, look for his stuff — sometimes it comes up on eBay or ABE for reasonable sums (not the minis unfortunately), it’s all pretty cool.

2 Rebecca Saturday, January 9, 2010 at 11:39 AM

Cooooool! The small size is sort of simultaneously humble and loudly hilarious and awesome! I agree with the previous comment- perfect balance of text and scans of books- I will surely keep reading this blog and send to friends! Great job Arthur!

3 Brian Pinsker Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 7:48 PM

Wow! I love the Etcht Minis. That’s just about the coolest publication I’ve ever seen, and from 61 years ago! I would love to read the whole 12-issue series. I plan to visit the UW library to see if there are any Bernardt Wall materials there.

I can see this diminutive style coming back, perhaps by McSweeney’s….

This rectoverso blog is very intriguing. Just the right balance of text and pages/covers from the books. I find the magenta background kind of annoying, though. It’s a small thing. I’ll keep reading and hopefully something else will annoy me so I can complain again.

VERY NICE WORK INDEED.

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