George S. Salter


Calligraphy, typography, book and jacket designs, logos, stage sets. Jewish. Born 5 October 1897 in Bremen. 1897-8: parents converted to Lutheranism. 1917-18: military service (cartographer). 1919-21: studied at the Kunstgewerbe- und Handwerkschule at Berlin-Charlottenburg: his teachers included Ewald Dülberg ( or Dühling? ) and Harold Bengen. 1920-27: scene painter, later scenic designer at the Berlin Staatstheater, later at Berliner Volksoper and Stadttheater Barmen-Elberfeld ( or Eberfeld? ) where he worked on over 100 productions (revues, operas, operettas). 1927-34: returning to Berlin he abandoned stage design and turned to typography and lettering, working for numerous progressive Berlin publishers including S. Fischer, Gustav Kiepenheuer, Erich Reiss, Die Schmiede and Klinkhardt & Biermann. 1931: hired by Georg Trump as Head of Applied Graphics and Commercial Art at the Berlin Städtische Kunstschule. March 1933: dismissed from his post by the Nazis because of his Jewish background; moved to Baden-Baden. November 1934: emigrated to New York city, sponsored by his brother Stefan Salter (who had been in the USA from 1928) and possibly with the support of the HIAS (Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society). He eventually became one of the country’s leading letterers and designers, working for numerous major publishers including the Limited Editions Club, Viking Press and especially Alfred A. Knopf. 1935-6: on recommendation of Dr Lehmann-Haupt (Professor of Book Arts, Columbia Univ.), Salter taught classes in design at the School of Library Service, Columbia University. 1936-67: taught classes in calligraphy, book design and illustration at Cooper Union art school. 1939-58: art director of Mercury Publications. 1947: formed Book Jacket Designers Guild. 1950-51: taught at New York University. His students included Phil Grushkin, Jeanyee Wong, Miriam Woods, Milton Glaser. Salter designed trademarks for Time-Life Records, Columbia University, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. His typeface Flex was issued in 1937 by the Amsterdam Typefoundry. From 1960: art director of the journal Atlas. ‘Salter designed some 6000 bookjackets in 30 years.’ (G.K. Schauer, Philobiblon, 1978, p. 13) Died 31 October 1967 in New York. His brother Stefan was also a book designer.

‘Amidst surrounding blatancy, George’s designs spoke in eloquent sotto voce , with bright colors as a foil.’ (Skaggs)

Writings by

    Comments on a 1942 Grolier Club exhibition of illustrations, Print, v. III, no. 3, 1943, pp. 39-40
  • ‘Calligraphy in current advertising and publishing’ (with Paul Standard), Art and Industry, Fall 1945, pp. 41-52
  • ‘Book Jacket Designs’ (on book jacket exhibition), Print, vol. vi, no. 1, 1948, pp. 13-23
  • ‘American book jackets’, Graphis, 1951, pp. 414-21 (GS’s work: pp. 416, 421)
  • ‘Is Dwiggins supposed to be good?’, Postscripts on Dwiggins, New York: The Typophiles, 1960
  • ‘GEMS’ (Good English Makes Sense), with Fritz Kredel, in A Keepsake for Alfred A. Knopf, NY: Knopf, 1965.

Writings about

  • A comprehensive reference is Hansen, 2005 (see below).
  • E. Hölscher, ‘Der Schutzumschlag’, Klimschs Jahrbuch, 1934, pp. 44-60
  • Robert Leslie, article on GS, PM Magazine, Sept. 1935
  • Lettering of To-day, special number of The Studio, 1937, p. 140
  • Sidney Jacobs, ‘George Salter, a profile’, Publisher’s Weekly, 3 June 1939, pp. 2053-6
  • H. Felix Kraus, ‘Some outstanding American book-jackets of 1941’, Art and Industry (N.Y.), Dec. 1941, pp. 177-81, esp. p. 178 (jacket for Harper)
  • Art and Industry, Aug. 1946, p. 59 (jacket)
  • Paul Standard, Calligraphy’s Flowering, Decay, & Restauration, Chicago: Society of Typographic Arts, 1947
  • Paul Standard, ‘The restoration of calligraphy’, Graphis 50, 1953, pp. 428-43, 492-4
  • Georg Kurt Schauer, ‘Gedenken, Gruss und Dank’, Imprimatur, 1956/7, p. 201
  • Gerda Finsterer-Stuber, Marken und Signete, Stuttgart: Julius Hoffmann, 1957
  • (?), ‘George Salter: Designer of books on either side of the Atlantic, Gebrauchsgraphik, 10, 1957, pp. 12-15
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘Der Schriftmann Georg Salter’, Der Druckspiegel, Oct. 1957, pp. 516-25
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘Georg Salter und die jüngste Phase des Schutzumschlags’, Archiv für Geschichte des Buchwesens, 1958, 1, pp. 608-15
  • H. Bockwitz, ‘Neue Arbeiten von Georg Salter, Berlin’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., April 1932, pp. 187-8 plus supplement
  • H.K. Frenzel, ‘Georg Salter’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Aug. 1932, pp. 2-9
  • ‘Plagiarism or not?’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Feb. 1950, p. 42
  • 1960-99: Philip Grushkin, George Salter. A third of a century of graphic art (exh. cat.), NYC: Gallery 303, 1961
  • GKS, 1962
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘Georg S. Salter – Buchgestalter in zwei Welten’, Form und Technik, Dec. 1963, pp. 689-94 (repr. in GKS, Von den Herbergen des Geistes, Krefeld: Scherpe, 1976)
  • ‘Georg Salter und seine Nachfolge’, GKS, 1963, pp. 251-5
  • Paul Bennett, ‘A visit with George Salter’, Publisher’s Weekly, 9 Sept. 1964
  • GKS, 1978
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘Gegenwart und Zukunft unserer Buchkultur’, Philobiblon, March 1978, pp. 6-18, esp. pp. 12-14
  • Charles E. Skaggs, ‘American Calligraphy Revisited, 1945-1965’, Fine Print, Oct. 1984, pp. 155-63
  • Pfäfflin, 1986
  • JH/PP, 1989
  • Frank Hermann and Heinke Schmitz, Der Verlag Die Schmiede 1921-9, Morsum/Sylt: Cicero Presse, 1996
  • Ulrich Faure, review of Der Verlag Die Schmiede 1921-9, in Leipziger Jahrbuch zur Buchgeschichte, 1997, pp. 418-21
  • 2000-present: T.S. Hansen, George Salter (exh. cat.), Boston: Club of Odd Volumes, 2001
  • Claire H. Badaracco, ‘George Salter’s book jacket designs, 1925-40’, in Design Issues, Chicago, Summer 2001, pp. 40-48
  • Jürgen Holstein (ed.), Georg Salter. Bucheinbände und Schutzumschläge aus Berliner Zeit 1922-34 (book covers and jackets of the Berlin period), Berlin, 2003, texts by Eberhard Hölscher (extract from 1930 article), Georg Kurt Schauer (reprint from 1963 article), Peter Nils Dorén (most text in English/German), includes checklist of GS jackets, books on jacket design
  • review of J. Holstein’s Georg Salter, in Illustration 63, 2/2003, p. 60
  • Ronald Salter, Fritz Kredel. Das buchkünstlerisch Werk in Deutschland und Amerika, Rudolstadt: burgart, 2003
  • Thomas S. Hansen, Classic Book Jackets. The Design Legacy of George Salter, New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005
  • (includes bibliography: works by and about GS)
  • Roland Jaeger, ‘Klassische Buchumschläge: Georg Salters Lebenswerk’ (review of Hansen, 2005), Aus dem Antiquariat, 4/2005, 12 August, pp. 321-3 Paul Shaw, reviews of Hansen, 2005, and Hölstein, 2003, Letter Arts Review, v. 20, no. 1, 2005, pp. 47-50 Letter Arts Review, v. 20, no. 2, 2005, p. 54 (6 book jackets)
  • Owen Williams, review of Hansen, 2005, in Forum (journal of Letter Exchange), Sept. 2006, p. 22.
  • 1930-59: Eberhard Hölscher, ‘Georg Salter’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., Sept. 1930, 36-page supplement (in series on contemporary designers)
  • H.K. Frenzel, ‘Let us seek an example’ (advertisements), Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., May 1931, pp. 30, 32
  • Hans Bockwitz, ‘Junge deutsche Büchkunstler’, Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., Nov. 1934, pp. 699-784, esp. p. 701
  • G.K. Schauer, ‘George Salter’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., Oct. 1957, pp. 12-15
  • International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933-45, Munich, New York, London, Paris: K.G. Saur, 1983., 1983
  • Deutsche Biographische Enzyklopädie, Munich, London, New Providence: K.G. Saur 1995- (from 1997: Munich only)., 1998
  • Ernst Fischer and others, Buchgestaltung im Exil 1933-1950. Eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933-1945 Der Deutschen Bibliothek. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. Very comprehensive. , 2003, pp. 23, 25, 106, 107, and biog. pp. 194-5


  • PM Galleries, NYC, 1939
  • A-D Gallery, New York, 1945
  • Gallery 303 (formerly A-D), New York, 1961
  • Odd Volumes, Boston, 2001.


  • Papers: Smith College, William Allan Neilson Library, Northampton, MA
  • John M. Wing Coll., Newberry Library, Chicago
  • Kunstbibliothek Staatliche Museen, Berlin (US jackets)
  • Literaturarchiv Marbach (Curt Tillman Collection).