Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A New Exhibition of Publishers' Bindings, 1880-1934

There will be no printed catalog of the new exhibition. Some of the books were cataloged in previous exhibitions, others here on the blog.  Some are new discoveries, and I'll add those to this blog as time permits.

Some installation photos are on my website and more are in a facebook album that has public access. Here are  few to get you going. The website and album have descriptions and commentary.



Hey--this isn't American, it's French!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Evangeline Mary Daniell

I only know of one cover by Evangeline Mary Daniell, who also went by the signature "Eva," but it is such an exceptional Art Nouveau design that it's likely there are others to be found. Please do post a comment if you know of any. Her monogram EMD is on both the cover and dust jacket of the first printing of The Seven Seas by Rudyard Kipling, the first American edition, published by Appleton in 1896. The monogram was removed from the cover on the 1897 and subsequent editions, but remained on the jacket. Three copies were in the first exhibition of American Decorated Publishers' Bindings 1872-1929 (2005).

The design was issued in two variants in 1896, orange cloth and a smooth grey-green fine weave cloth. The orange variant was in the 2005 exhibition. An interesting aspect of this design is the darkened area within the seaweed.  On the grey-green cloth it appears to be accomplished by blind stamping. On the orange cloth, which has more texture, it appears to be stamped with varnish or a similar clear gloss finish.

 Evangeline Mary Daniell
The Seven Seas
by Rudyard Kipling
New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1896
[EMD monogram at the bottom center, detail below]

A  worn reference copy of the 1897 edition in olive green buckram was also in the exhibition, with its dust jacket quite chipped. No monogram on the cover, but it is on the dj:

and a copy of the 1899 edition in grey-green cloth:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

A previously unknown Amy M. Sacker cover

I am pleased to let you know that the entire exhibition of American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933 has been acquired by the Eberly Family Special Collections Library at Pennsylvania State University. This is the same library that acquired the previous exhibition, The Book Cover Art of Thomas Watson Ball.

It's been three months since the previous post—in addition to packing and delivering the books I was finishing my new work, Notes, which is a Featured Artist Exhibition at the Center for Book Arts in New York City through December 20. Also presented two talks and taught a Master Class there. 

Now that things are calming down, there is space again in the studio/gallery to open some of the cartons of books purchased from the Mercantile Library five years ago. They kept the covers in miraculous condition. Some volumes are pristine, as though they just came from the bindery. Even books that were read to the point of falling apart were re-sewn and cased into the original covers.

One exciting find was Amy M. Sacker's design on Sweet Peggy by Linnie S. Harris [Little, Brown & Company, 1904]. Like many of their rebound books, the replacement endpapers are acidic, have turned brown and are disintegrating, but this does not affect the cover art. Considering the amount of use this volume must have had, the design remains bright on the cover and spine, with just a few smudges that can be cleaned.

Amy M. Sacker
Sweet Peggy by Linnie S. Harris
Frontis.and illus. by Henry J. Peck
Chapter headings also illus with music notation
Boston: Little, Brown & Company, 1904, October
[AMS monogram in right stem between ribbons]

What's exciting about it? It's not just that it's a good cover design by an important artist, and one that adopts Thomas Watson Ball's style of clouds. This is a rare book. WorldCat shows just two copies, one in Special Collections at the University of Washington and one in Rare Books at the Huntington Library in San Marino, CA. Amy Sacker's work has been superbly documented by Mark Schumacher. If you've never clicked the link on the left to his Amy Sacker website, this would be a good time to explore it. Sweet Peggy was not in his list. I wrote to him. He was not familiar with it, so I sent him a photo.  He replied, "This is, for some reason, a very scarce title. Most libraries own a microfilm version of it !!" Mark is a librarian at UNCG, which has a fabulous collection of trade bindings, with over 1,800 in their Digital Collection.

I looked everywhere for another copy to see if I could find one with the original endpapers, and found one! But it has a different cover. Clearly a later printing, it has no date on the title page. Little, Brown used the same AMS spine design. Evidently they didn't want to spend the additional cost of stamping four colors, and used a design with just two. This printing has the same frontispiece, but not the additional illustration opposite page 220.

Amy M. Sacker
Sweet Peggy by Linnie S. Harris
Frontis. by Henry J. Peck
Chapter headings also illus with music notation
Boston: Little, Brown & Company, ©1904

Why is this book so scarce? We know of only three extant copies with the AMS cover (assuming the two others have the original cover in good condition) and just this one copy of a later printing.  What happened to all the others?  Clearly it was a popular book—the Mercantile copy was read so much it needed rebinding, and sales were strong enough to do at least one other printing. 22 libraries have the microfilm of it, and one library, OSU, has a microform of an A. L. Burt reprint, though no physical copies of that edition are listed anywhere.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fulfillment +

All pre-publication subscriptions for American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933 have been shipped. Below is a photo of the Deluxe edition:

Book covers with Native American Themes 1875-1933Deluxe Edition
While cataloging this collection many books have arrived. Here's one on the same theme, that arrived too late for the exhibition:

by Samuel P. Moulthrop
Illustrated and Arranged by Sadie Pierpont Barnard
Rochester, NY: Ernest Hart, Publisher
[unsigned cover in the style of the illustrator]


Monday, June 23, 2014

American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933

The new book is finished, and you now can LOOK INSIDE! (PDF) to read a few pages. For more  information about the editions and ordering copies, please visit the web page for American Trade Bindings with Native American Themes 1875-1933.

Cover artists include Margaret Armstrong, Frank Hazenplug, the Decorative Designers, Thomas Watson Ball, Angel de Cora, Bright Eyes, and many others. With the illustrators and dust jacket designers, a total of 87 identified artists are in the exhibition.

In addition to Tribal art, the covers include the evolution of Modernism from late Victorian through Eastlake, Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Poster style, and Art Deco.

There are decorative, symbolic, and pictorial  covers depicting cultures from the Arctic to South America, and times from prehistoric to the early 20th century. It includes captivity narratives, autobiographies, frauds, ethnographic works, myths, travelogues, propaganda, songs, dance, romance novels, and juvenile fiction.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Two Rare Balls from Dodd and a Newly Discovered One from Small, Maynard

Many covers by Thomas Watson Ball have been featured here. Type Ball into the Search box to the left and you will find them. Two designs that had eluded me for many years turned up recently. How did I know to look for them? Both are in the Ball Portfolio at the University of Rochester
     Autobiography of a Child appears exactly like the portfolio panel:

Thomas Watson Ball
Autobiography of a Child by Hannah Lynch
Dodd, Mead & Company, 1899

The Conquest of Charlotte, however, is indigo-grey cloth stamped in green and white, while the portfolio panel is russet cloth. Since the portfolio panels are only the stamped cover cloth with no boards or spines, they are likely publishers' proofs sent to Ball for approval. Perhaps there was a run of the edition in russet, or maybe only the blue was issued.  Did Ball reject the russet and call for this color combination? Unless a russet copy turns up we may never know. If you find one, please post a comment!

Thomas Watson Ball
The Conquest of Charlotte by David S. Meldrum
Dodd, Mead & Company, 1902 

 Thomas Watson Ball 
The Conquest of Charlotte by David S. Meldrum
The Thomas Watson Ball Portfolio
University of Rochester
River Campus Libraries
Rare Books & Special Collections

New to me, with thanks to Chris Kraus, is By-Ways of War, a fabulous  Ball design. It's not signed, nor in the portfolio, but it has all the Ball elements--the panel style, lettering, striated sky, ship silhouette, and dramatic waves. The interesting thing is that Chris found a copy issued by Small, Maynard in 1901.  I could not locate one of those, but found and ordered a copy issued by Sherman, French in 1907.  When it arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was the 1901 Small edition, but the title page had been excised and replaced by tipping a new one onto the stub. The spine says Small, Maynard & Co, and the ads in the back are for Small Maynard editions of 1901.

 Thomas Watson Ball
By-Ways of War by James Jeffrey Roche
 Small, Maynard and Company, 1901
with the title page replaced by Sherman,French & Company, 1907

 Particularly exciting is the ad that Chris had previewed for me identifying T.W. Ball as the cover designer of Visiting the Sin.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


The first post to this blog in August 2009 was about a book with a peacock feather stamped in gold on the cover, The New Day by Richard Watson Gilder [Scribner, Armstrong, 1876]. It's worth re-reading that story, because there is a connection to Margaret Armstrong, whose peacock designs are below. Here's a photo of that book to refresh your memory. Click it to read the original post.
      Peacocks and peacock feathers were a pervasive image of the Aesthetic Movement, a symbol of beauty in nature. Whistler's Peacock Room of 1877 was a monumental tribute to this theme.
     Albert Angus Turbayne is sometimes thought of as a British designer, but he was a native of Boston, born in 1866. He lived and worked in England for much of his career, and was considered among the top book artists, creating designs for trade bindings and fine bindings with gauffered edges. The September, 1900 edition of The Artist [vol. 28, No. 248, pp. 212-217] has a nice illustrated feature titled "A. A. Turbayne's Book-Bindings at the Paris Exhibition" that will give you a sense of his work and stature at that time. Look particularly at the "'Maiolica' fore-edge by A. A. Turbayne" on p. 215.
     His most familiar work is an Art Nouveau peacock binding done for Macmillan's series of books by Thomas Love Peacock.

A. A Turbayne
Gryll Grange by Thomas Love Peacock
London and New York: Macmillan & Co., 1896

     The stamping die is engraved with fine lines that reflect at different angles, so parts of the image light up differently as you move past the book or turn it in your hands.  This is a variant of the technique that lit up the 1876 cover of The New Day.

     Turbayne was a master at monograms, and was the primary designer/artist of the book Monograms & Ciphers [London: T.C.& E.C. Jack, 1906]. At various times he worked for the London County Council School of Photoengraving and Lithography, for Carlton Studio, and as a book designer for Oxford University Press. His own cipher is:

     Like many book cover designers in this period, the British artist Paul Woodroffe was also an illustrator and worked in stained glass.  For the Pre-Raphaelite writer Gertrude Hudson's romanticized tour of India that took a scathing look at British imperialism (writing as a man under the pseudonym Israfel), Woodroffe created a not-quite repeat pattern with two peacocks:

Paul Woodroffe
Ivory Apes & Peacocks by Israfel (Gertrude Hudson)
New York, London: P Mansfield & A Wessels; At the Sign of the Unicorn, 1899

     Margaret Armstrong, perhaps the most collected American book cover artist of the golden age, was also a stained glass designer, having studied with John LaFarge (as did Sarah Whitman and Alice Morse). She made a horizontally symmetrical peacock design in 1903 for Appleton's book on housekeeping for the wealthy. This cover uses bright and matte gold to achieve a lighting effect similar to the engraving on Turbayne's design, but here it is achieved by texturing the matte gold rather than hand engraving lines.

Margaret Armstrong
Millionaire Households by Mary Elizabeth Carter
New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1903

    She reprised the concept a decade later for Crowell:

Margaret Armstrong
Twenty Centuries of Paris by Mabell S.C. Smith
New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1913