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 Frederick Charles Blank  (1866 - )

About: Frederick Charles Blank


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Lived/Active: Massachusetts/Connecticut      Known for: Bookplate design

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Frederick Charles Blank (5/10/1866 - 8/05/1942) from the Book, "Frederick Charles Blank and his Art." By John Roth, 1923 as re-printed from the American Society of Bookplate Collectors and Designers 1923 Yearbook:

The distinctive and very interesting bookplates by Frederick Charles Blank of Boston in this issue of the Year Book mark rather the active resumption of a long dormant interest in this art than the entrance of a new designer and engraver.  Mr. Blank, a native of Rockville, Connecticut, is a master of ornamental letter and pictorial engraving and design, having studied and practiced the art in the days when a watch-case was a work of art. Some sixteen or seventeen years have passed since he made his first bookplate. After having designed some few examples, business pressure compelled him to devote his entire attention to other lines of engraving, especially the engraving of King Gillette's presentation razors.  However, his interest in bookplates was not abandoned, though necessarily some-what abated.

Late in 1919 he re-entered the field with the distinctive William Emery Nickerson plate.  The design shows that the owner, a designer of intricate mechanical appliances, has also a deep interest in literature and the fine arts.  The ship Fortune and the dates 1621-40 allude to the purely New England ancestry of the owner of the plate.  The execution of this plate was entrusted to other hands by Mr. Blank, not only because of the pressure of other work, but also by reason of the fact that for many years the artist had confined his attention to engraving for direct effect, a style which differs radically from that done for its effect in the struck impression.  Not wholly satisfied with the results in this and companion plates, Mr. Blank resolved to engrave his own designs, and he therefore executed his personal plate.  That this decision was a wise one is apparent upon examination of this plate: also the recent copper in the pure colonial for Ida Cony Frazee.  In his personal plate Mr. Blank expresses his admiration for the old masters of the art, viz., those artists who executed their own plates as well as those moderns whom he considers their most worthy successors. The Greek Legend (Strive for the best things) is a reminiscence of his school days and carries the English translation "Strive for the best things," a motto to which he has always been faithful.

Mr. Blank has also designed plates that have been reproduced in methods of intaglio, other than hand engraved as well as certain attractive designs executed by him in steel-die form.  He is an ardent admirer of the great masters of engraving, past and present, and while accepting the trend of modernism in art, refuses to cater to the so-called ultra modern.  He holds also that a bookplate should be individual, expressive of the owner's personality and tastes, and although a student of heraldry, he does not consider that the purely armorial plate should be used except in rare cases.  Of his other work, perhaps the most admired has been the carved and engraved Gillette Razor set showing the history of Panama, the Canal and the development of the West, as well as the achievement of the large manufacturing company he is connected with, made for and first exhibited at the Panama Pacific Exposition, where it was awarded the gold medal.  This set often placed before the public, is a beautiful example of the possibilities of the graver in the proper hand, combining the history with art.

Submitted as a bulletin by Spencer D. Frazee

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