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

Among the Pond People
by Clara D. Pierson
New York,  Dutton, 1901
19.8 x 13.4 cm.
[signed F.C. Gordon]

The turtle has one foot on the border of the picture and the lotus pads come out the sides of it, evoking the feeling of coming out of the water. In one sense it's like an inhabited initial letter of the renaissance, with the turtle using the border as a prop. But there is more of the Japanese woodcut in the flow of the image.


The March of the White Guard
by Gilbert Parker
Illustrations by W.E.B. Starkweather
New York: R.F. Fenno and Company, 1902
19.7 x 13.4 cm.
[unsigned, W.E.B. Starkweather, signed endpapers]

An unusual and effective design, it is simultaneously realistic and abstract. One almost gets the sensation that the wind might blow some of the image off the cover.

Madame Butterfly
by John Luther Long
Illustrated by C. Yarnall Abbott
New York: The Century Co., October, 1903
21.3 x 14.6 cm.
[signed Y., Genjiro Yeto]

Some people have attributed this "Y." design to the illustrator, but there is nothing stylistically to support the notion that C. Yarnall Abbott did both the illustrations and the cover design. I believe it is the work of Genjiro Yeto. Japanese artists and Japanese Americans illustrated several of the titles in the collection, and were influential on other artists and designers of the time. Among the most important of these was Genjiro Yeto (later known as Genjiro Kataoka), who was part of the influential Cos Cob artists colony.3 

It is reasonable to think Yeto designed this particular cover, and not only because of the stylistic similarity of the design to Yeto's 1901 illustrations and decorations for A Japanese Nightingale. Yeto served as a consultant for David Belasco's first stage production of Madame Butterfly in 1900, and would have been a likely choice as designer for Century's 1903 edition of Long's original story, which first appeared in Century Magazine in January, 1898. Yeto did other work for Century, including the illustrations for their 1909 publication of Little Sister Snow by Frances Little (as Genjiro Kataoka). 

 

3. Larkin, Susan G. The Cos Cob Colony: Impressionists on the Connecticut Shore . National Academy of Design/ Yale University Press, 2001(ISBN:0300088523)

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