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153: Seed

September 2, 2013

Just one book this week, but a good one. Another trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan and Argos—the city’s premier used book shop—led to this great find, Charles G. Norris’ Seed: A Novel of Birth Control. Beyond the amazing title, the fabulous part is, of course, the Rockwell Kent-illustrated cover. It’s unattributed, but surely his work.
The novel was first published in 1930, but this is a 1940 Triangle Books edition. Triangle appears to have been a New York publisher of inexpensive reprints of popular novels. There’s not a lot of easy to access information out there about them, but their list seems a big grab bag, with pulpy stuff like James Cain, Conan Doyle, and Ellery Queen, more literary work like Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck, then pop books by people like Kipling and Wodehouse.

I can’t find any indication that Triangle was political in any way, so this seems like a straight commercial job for Kent. But he does a good job, the 3-color limitation on the cover is put to good use, with the brown ground, faded blue sky, and black figure and title. The female figure appears to be playing Johnny Appleseed, sowing the field with a big of seed, which maybe more literal to the title than intended, is birth control her throwing away the seed? The main figure of the woman really jumps out under the dustjacket, as a bold black print on the light blue cloth.
Charles G. Norris, Seed: A Novel of Birth Control (New York: Triangle Books, 1940). Cover design by Rockwell Kent.

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