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Book Club of Texas

Book Club of Texas (cont.)

Time has shown that the Book Club of Texas’s crowning achievement emerged in 1936. Tales of the Mustang, written by J. Frank Dobie and illustrated by Dallas artist Jerry Bywaters, was a literary highlight of the Texas centennial observance. Printed by the Rein Company of Houston in an edition of three hundred copies, this selection has become one of the most sought-after modern rarities. Garamond type is used throughout – varying only in size and leading. The two-color title page shows excellent taste with its careful letter-spacing and subdued orange illustration. While the asymmetrical layout of the contents page is something rather unusual, in this instance, it succeeds. The book also features ample margins, initial letters of several pages printed in different shades of ink and an unpretentious binding with an attractive title label. In a way, the design seems a bit delicate for the robust subject matter. The real weakness, however, is the paper, which, unfortunately, is showing age.

Although collectors, critics, and even antiquarian dealers have heaped extravagant praise on the book, it did not entirely satisfy the author. In a copy of Tales of the Mustang inscribed to Everette Lee DeGolyer, Sr., Dobie wrote, “This book is supposed to exist for the sake of illustrating and promoting the art of printing. This is good, but I can't help from damning the violet-half-hidden from-the-eye kind of binding. Mustangs penned up in such daintiness.”

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