Jake Zeitlin (1902-198) moved to Los Angeles in 1925 and in only two years, was operating one of the most popular bookstores in the city. Nicknamed At the Sign of the Grasshopper because of the symbol on the front, the shop became a local hangout for writers and artists, who browsed the shelves and enjoyed works of visual art in the shop’s small gallery.
One of the local artists Zeitlin introduced to the neighborhood was Paul Landacre (1893-1963) whose first one-man show was held at the bookstore in 1930 and received a favorable reviewed by Arthur Millier in Prints magazine. The Zeitlin’s and the Landacre’s became good friends and Paul’s wife Margaret even worked as a secretary for the bookshop.
When Zeitlin established his own publishing imprint, Primavera Press, Landacre was asked to illustrate many of the books. The first in 1933 was Marguerite Wilbur’s translation of Alexandre Dumas’ gold rush novel A Gil Blas in California. Pictured at the left is a recently acquired sheet of proofs for chapter headings in this book.
1933 was a busy year for Landacre, who submitted designs for the proposed Limited Editions publication of W.H. Hudson’s Green Mansions. Although some proof pages were printed by Grant Dahlstrom, the design was not selected and these chapter headings (top and bottom) were never published. Note, as Jake Wien below reminds us, that Landacre went on to illustrate three future editions for the Club.
For a bibliography of Primavera Press, see A Garland for Jake Zeitlin, on the occasion of his 65th birthday & the anniversary of his 40th year in the book trade (Los Angeles: Grant Dahlstrom & Saul Marks, 1967) Firestone Library (F) 0334.993.37