The Running Torchbearer Colophon

Major Identifier of the ML Series

Since the Modern Library series started in 1917, it has always had a distinctive colophon. The first one, rather uninteresting I think, appeared on the base of dust jacket spine, the front book cover, and on the title page: it was just the Boni Liveright "BL" emblem with the words "Modern Library" above it.

Later B&Ls had a variant impressed on the front cover and on the dust jacket spine; a monk at a writing desk.

Just after Cerf and Klopfer bought the 108-title ML collection from Horace Liveright in 1925, they commissioned Lucien Bernhard to design a new colophon - the Flying Torchbearer, representing the light of knowledge.

In 1929, Rockwell Kent was brought in to design other colophons. He continued to design variations for the next ten years, all based on the Bernhard.

There are a huge variety of these colophons. You'll usually find a colophon on the front book cover (especially in editions after 1931), sometimes embossed, and often in several places on the dust jacket.

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