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

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The Oriental Influence



Kwaidan
by Lafcadio Hearn
Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1904
 Published April, 1904, Second Impression.
19.2 x 13.1 cm.
[unsigned, attributed to Bruce Rogers]

This beautiful design was issued in variants as it went through several editions, including a light blue embossed cloth with the leaves dark green. 

The Open Road
by  Edw. V. Lucas
New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1905.
16 x 10.7 cm.
[signed BS, Bertha Stuart]

This is one of Bertha Stuart's most interesting cover designs. It combines elements of the 1872 Fly Leaves cover (also a Holt publication) and Will Bradley's 1884 In Russet and Silver. The branches here break the plane of the trees much like the owl does in Amy Sacker's 1902 Kindred of the Wild. Compare this use of the movement of the picture in front of and behind the plane of the title box to the 1910 binding on The Poetic New World.

Country Neighbors
by Alice Brown
New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1910
19.5 x 13.4 cm.

  

This small boxed vignette in black and gold on the green cloth is a remarkable example of fitting deep space in a miniature area (detail above).  Again we see the Fly Leaves branch, this time very much in the foreground, going entirely across the picture box. As with the moonlight in Margaret Armstrong's 1903 Calderon's Prisoner,  the perspective river takes the eye back in space, where a black tree on a mountain is silhouetted against the gold sky, with another mountain further in the background.

The Friendly Town
by  Edw. V. Lucas
New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1906.
16.1 x 10.7 cm.
[signed BS, Bertha Stuart]

There were several books produced by Holt in a mini-series of similar bindings. This one, also by Bertha Stuart, maintains the structural elements of The Open Road design while adapting the pictorial elements within the composition to suit the changing subject matter.  

 Life of Japan
by Masuji Mayakawa
Embellishments by S. Morita and R.S. Hayata
New York: The Baker & Taylor Company, 1907
21.5 x 14.7 cm.

Here the gold title is calligraphically influenced by Japanese style without exhibiting the affectation of lettering like that on The Heart of Hyacinth. Another difference is that it is done as a font rather than calligraphy, i.e., each instance of a letter is the same. A stylized red sun behind the white snow capped mountain is dramatic on the green cloth. Pink and gold flowers are in a plane independent of the background image, and a white abstract line drawing reminiscent of some of the architectural embellishments in the text separates the foreground and background images. That line is attached to the mountain and to the border. 

The Holy Land
by Robert Hichens
Illustrated by Jules Guérin and by photographs
New York, The Century Company, October, 1910
27 x 18 cm.
[DD]

Byzantine splendor is evoked by The Decorative Designers cover to bring the reader into the geographic region of the text. A tour-de-force of stamping, it combines decorative and pictorial elements in seven colors and gold.

The Butterflies of Taiwan
and other Fantasies
by Janet B. Montgomery McGovern
New York: D. Appleton and Co. 1924
20.7 x 14.9 cm.

A beautifully delicate image of a girl playing a stringed instrument is stamped in gold on the mottled green and black paper of a quarter linen binding. 

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