Excerpt from the catalog of the collection
American Decorated Publishers' Bindings, 1872-1929
by Richard Minsky

Note: This is a  draft--comments and suggestions are welcome!

The Oriental Influence

or the Japanese Wife
by Sir Edwin Arnold
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1893.
Trow Directory Printing, New York.
18.4 x 12.2 cm.

Margaret Armstrong did a beautiful design for this book, but although the theme is Japanese, the design has more a feeling of Art Nouveau/Arts and Crafts transition. There is nothing about the lettering of the title to create a Japanese atmosphere. 

Two versions are in the collection, above is white, gold and dark green stamping on light green cloth, and the other is on white cloth (a reference copy). [unsigned MA, GE 14]

Love and Rocks
by Laura E. Richards
Boston: Estes & Lauriat, 1898
Colonial Press, Boston.
 17.5 x 11.2 cm.

This very modern looking seascape anticipates the color sensibilities and spatial relationships of the Art Deco period and serigraphic works of the 1970's. The asymmetrical composition combines a Japanese influence reminiscent of the seascapes of Hokusai and Hiroshige with the flat design space that Will Bradley popularized. On the horizon is a gold radiant sun.

A Woman Tenderfoot
by Grace Gallatin Seton-Thompson
Illustrated by Ernest Seton-Thompson
New York: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1900
20.1 x 15 cm.

Dark green and gold on light green linen finish cloth. A silhouetted coyote howls at a gold moon, which is partly obscured by a dark freeform cloud reminiscent of Japanese imagery containing the title in gold. The coyote is finely detailed, but the hilly landscape in the background is like a quick sketch. 

This design, possibly by the authors, looks remarkably modern, and one might mistake it for the 1950's.  

Poems, Ballads
by Rudyard Kipling
New York: Dodge Publishing Company, n.d.
"Oriental Edition"  1899 H. M. Caldwell Co.
Original Illustrations by Victor A. Searles
20.2 x 14.2 cm.
(reference copy)

Indian motifs were popular on Kipling's works, and helped create a sense of place. Here we see the symmetrical influence of India, compared to the asymmetry of Japan that has influenced Love and Rocks and A Woman Tenderfoot. Here the design is static and vertical, but with those two the design is active and moves on the diagonal from lower left to upper right.

Red cloth with black and light gray design and gold title

Indian Tales
by Rudyard Kipling
Illustrated by L. J. Bridgman and others
New York & Boston, H. M. Caldwell Company, n.d. 
"Oriental Edition"  1899
20.7 x 14.7 cm.
(Reference Copy)

Red cloth with black, green, and light gray wraparound image of oriental rug, with gold titles.  Note that the spine and back cover continue the design, which is a repeating pattern with variations.


Click to view the online exhibition preview of American Decorated Publishers' Bindings, 1872-1929
or go to the partial checklist of the collection [subscribers have access to the complete current checklist]


To continue the exhibition, click one of the sections or a button