George Salter





Born in 1897 in Bremen, Germany and moved with his family at an early age to Berlin; studied at the Municipal School of Arts and Crafts in Charlottenburg from 1919 to 1921, and afterwards worked in stage and costume design.

In 1927 he began his career as a graphic designer, producing book jackets through 1933; from 1931 until 1934 he was the director of the commercial art division at the Graphics Arts Academy in Berlin.

He emigrated to the United States in 1934, arriving in America on a Friday. The following Monday, Simon & Schuster hired him to design jackets for five hardcover books. In all, he designed some 600 covers for Knopf, Harper & Row, Random House, Viking, Little, Brown, Fischer, Bobbs-Merill and E.P.Dutton.

From 1938 through 1957, at Lawrence Spivak's Mercury Publications, he served as an Art Director for such digests as Bestseller Mysteries, Mercury Mysteries, Mercury Publications amd Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. His job was to take care of the cover illustrations and lettering, all interior typography and all logo's.

Salter also created paperback covers: three for Pocket Books (including number 300, Franklin Delano Roosevelt), eight for Penguin in 1945 and 1946(including number 590, Orlando), 10 for Berkeley in 1961 and 1962, and one for Pyramid in 1962 (So love Returns). His favorite typeface for book jackets was Caledonia.

Although his drawing style was somewhat clumsy, he had many followers, primarely because of his great skill as a calligrapher. Many of his students at Cooper Union in New York (where he taught from 1937 through 1967, using Alfred Fairbank's A Handwriting Manual as a textbook) went on to become book jacket designers: Edgard Cirlin, Jeanyee Wong, Miriam Woods, Philip Grushkin, Meyer Miller, Anita Karl, Riki Levinson, Rafael Boguslav, Milton Glaser and Walter Brooks.

Rafael Palacios says about Salter:"He was a giant, he was highly respected, publishers always approached him first. He earned a lot of money, not only because he was good, but also becaise he could work quickly."

Salter died in 1967. His last cover, completed by Philip Grushkin, was published in 1968.



(from The Book of Paperbacks by Piet Schreuders, Virgin Press, 1981)