Codex 99

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Cover, SI Book of Bridge, click for larger image

Detail, cover

138

The Sports Illustrated Book of Bridge

Jerome Snyder

Jerome Snyder (1916–2 May 1976) grew up in New York City and after graduating from Stuyvesant High School spent all of two days in art school before dropping out to begin a free-lance career as a commercial artist. After infantry service in WWII he returned to New York, resumed his art, and was soon receiving commissions from the Container Corporation of America, Mademoiselle, House & Garden, the New York Times and, perhaps most importantly, from Leo Lionni at Fortune.

New York, 1948, click for larger image

New York, for the CCA, 1948. Smithsonian

Fortune covers, click for larger image

Fortune covers, 1951–52

His Fortune covers caught the attention of Henry Luce who in 1954 hired him as the art director of his new magazine – Sports Illustrated. Even within the Time/Life empire there was skepticism that a weekly magazine devoted entirely to sports would be profitable and to appease advertisers early SI issues split coverage between spectator sports such as baseball and football and more upscale pastimes including yachting, polo and bridge.

Luce, of course, had no trouble attracting respected writers and artists. For the bridge column he hired the prolific speaker, author and world champion Charles Goren.

The Sports Illustrated Book of Bridge, published in 1961, was a combination of Goren’s weekly SI columns as well as quizzes, rules, history, even a 4-color section on antique playing cards. Snyder, who by this time had left SI to become the art director for Scientific American provided these wonderful illustrations for the chapter openings.

The SI Book of Bridge, click for larger image

Over his 40-year career Snyder worked in many different styles – everything from simple ink line drawing to realism to psychedelia – but he would be best remembered for his distinct, hyper-detailed caricature that relied on painstakingly meticulous mosaic work. The SI Book of Bridge shows him at the height of this style.

The SI Book of Bridge, click for larger image

The SI Book of Bridge, click for larger image

The SI Book of Bridge, click for larger image

The SI Book of Bridge, click for larger image

1. Goren, Charles. The Sports Illustrated Book of Bridge. New York: Time Inc., 1961. (WorldCat). The original edition included a slipcase and retailed for USD 12.50.

2. For more examples of Snyder’s mosaic style see Javier Garcia’s wonderful No Barcode blog.

4 Mar 2013 ‧ Illustration