SHV centennial album

Donation by the publisher in exchange for a donation to the cancer fund
Acquisition: 1996
Date: 1996
Size: 23 x 19 cm.
Call number: KW DPZ 0175

Groups of typography students from the Netherlands and abroad visiting the Special Collections department regularly have an opportunity to see medieval manuscripts, early editions, nineteenth century illustrated books and more recent examples of typographic genius. But they really get excited when the white SHV book is pulled from its black box. This is the ultimate icon of modern Dutch graphic design.
The SHV book was designed by Irma Boom with editorial support from art historian Johan Pijnappel. Paul Fentener van Vlissingen commissioned them to create a company album to commemorate the centenary of the Steenkolen Handels Vereeniging, a coal conglomerate. Instead of choosing a commercial type of publication with tables and portraits of the Board, inspiration and uniqueness took centre stage. Five years went into making the book and involved not only combing through the company archives but also interviewing employees.
Boom's book is a masterpiece of design and printing. Technical credit goes to Rosbeek printers (Nuth). In order to save trees, the book was printed on - cotton based - banknote paper. The paper is perforated in some places. Laser printing, multi-colour printing, sophisticated computer techniques and special screens were used to reproduce hundreds of documents and photographs on 2,136 pages.

Flipping through the book, the field of tulips on the edge transforms into a poem by Gerrit Achterberg. The pages are not numbered; the book is intended to be a 'voyage', not a reference work.
In addition to four thousand copies bound in white, five hundred were printed in Chinese and bound in black for business associates in China. A considerable number of copies are locked in a vault. The book is distributed almost exclusively within the company, with a very limited number of recipients on the outside. According to calculations, it will take hundreds of years to hand out all of the copies. By the time that the last copy has been given away, students and other visitors of the Koninklijke Bibliotheek will have touched the white binding so often that the title will have appeared in black: SHV? What tomorrow. (PvC)