When noted steel manufacturer and antique porcelain collector Richard Cohen was in first grade in Manhattan, he was very taken by Veronica, a 1961 book by the Swiss artist Roger Duvoisin about a hippo seeking to make a name for herself in the big city. Duvoisin was a prolific illustrator of children's books in the mid-20th century, and he also did covers for The New Yorker, but Veronica was only just reintroduced into print this past January.
What can be the effect a single book can have on a child's life, you ask? Well, for starters, Cohen has been a long-standing member of Hippolotofus, The International Hippo Society.
Oh, and there is that massive 144-piece dinner service he commissioned from Royal Copenhagen in their most elaborate pattern, Flora Danica, which was originally made for Catherine The Great. You know the service? It's the one that Cohen sent a photographer around the world for a year gathering pictures for. Pictures of nearly every hippo in captivity, which have been handpainted in photorealistic detail on every teacup, dish and tureen? You know, the most significant private porcelain commission in over a century? The Hippopotamus Service. Must've been some book.
The Hippopotamus Service [jalopyjunktown]
Sotheby's to exhibit remarkable Hippopotamus Service, Sept 7-13 [pdf via shareholder.com]
HippiHippo, photographer Sarah Galbraith's travelblog [hippihippo.blogspot.com]
Buy Veronica on Amazon, $10.85 [amazon.com]