Page 13 - November 2016
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from their ‘Pastello’ range.                  travel books published by his family ?rm,
   Sadly Berté’s process did not make         and employed a London printer who
                                              was licensed to use the Berté process. In
him rich. His business acumen appears         1932 The Villages of England appeared
to have been rather lacking, for he went      with the publisher’s ?rst distinctive Berté
into partnership with a man called            cover, from original artwork painted by
Fred Hacker in New Jersey. Hacker             Brian Batsford. It was printed by Herbert
was an entrepreneur who handled the           Reiach. The printing works, in Belvedere
commercial licensing of Berté’s invention     Road, Waterloo, were bulldozed shortly
and became wealthy as a result. Hacker        after the Second World War to make
sold the rubber plates, engraving             way for the Royal Festival Hall. Herbert
equipment, high-chroma inks and all           Reiach made use of a limited palette
the necessary materials to successfully       of colours to achieve the Berté e?ect,
exploit the new system. Jean Berté, on        relying upon additional shades created
the other hand, quickly disappeared into      by overlaying translucent inks. The
relative obscurity. By 1930, just four        blocks were all cut by hand, and Cook
years after the patent was registered,        painted with this reproduction process
he appeared on United States census           in mind. Fine lines were generally
returns as ‘clerk’, rather than the ‘artist’  restricted to the black plate, although a
he had been a decade earlier. By the          degree of detail could be incorporated
1940 census he was teaching French in a       into the coloured elements. Inks for
private school and appears to have had        the watercolour process, and hand-cut
no connection with the printing trade or      blocks, were supplied by the American
his patented process. He is believed to       company Wallace & Tiernan, from their
have died in his native France in 1981,       UK headquarters in Chiswick.
aged 98, having spent much of his adult
life in the USA.                                 Batsford’s ‘Pilgrim’ series of book
                                              jackets were the last gasp of the Berté
   By the outbreak of World War II the        process in the UK, but although the
Jean Berté process had largely fallen         technology is now obsolete (completely
out of fashion in the UK, although many       replaced by modern ?exography), the
American printers were still using it. In     bold Berté style remains popular and is
Britain a more sober approach to ?ne          still widely imitated. The American writer
printing quashed further development.         Bill Bryson recently published The Road
Stanley Morison, an advocate of               to Little Dribbling with a very distinctive
historic type revivals, and adviser to the    cover. In a nod to the Batsford/Berté
Monotype Corporation, was probably            style the artist Neil Gower has used a
not impressed by the vibrant, sometimes       similar palette, with blocks of solid colour
garish, palette espoused by Berté             for the dust-jacket design. The capital’s
enthusiasts.                                  community TV station, London Live, has
                                              also adopted the brash, ?at palette of the
   The Jean Berté process did score           Berté process for its station idents. Jean
one memorable success in the UK, and          Berté and his printing method may no
it is through a single artist/publisher       longer be with us, but his distinctive and
and printer that the distinctive look is      eye-catching style lives on.
best remembered in this country. Brian
Batsford (professionally known as Brian                                                     261
Cook) illustrated many dust-jackets for
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