Irving was curious and notably generous—two qualities that made him a natural teacher. (Not surprisingly, Irving taught in New York City’s public schools for many years before opening Oaklander Books.) Angie and I were fortunate to spend long hours on two separate occasions in his crowded Chelsea shop poring over his singular collection of design and typography books. Not only did Irving let us handle Mayakovsky’s For the Voice, but also, memorably, one of the Million Mark banknotes designed by Herbert Bayer in 1923.
Although Irving died one year ago this August, Angie and I think of him frequently, especially when Angie brings our type specimens to school to share with her students. Among the letterpress specimen books we bought from Irving are those for Trump-Deutsch (1938) designed by Georg Trump and released by H. Berthold, AG; Ingeborg Antiqua (c. 1909) designed by Professor F.W. Kleukens and released by D. Stempel, AG; and Ehmcke-Mediaeval (1924) designed by F.H. Ehmcke and released by D. Stempel, AG.
Steven Heller, who also frequented Oaklander Books, wrote a remembrance of Irving for Print Magazine in August of 2012 which can be read here. Swann Galleries in New York auctioned off some of Irving’s rare books in May of 2013, many of which can be seen in the auction catalog. Incidentally, Irving’s copy of For the Voice sold for $7,500. [MF]