|February 5, 2008
Dear Subscribers and
now 100 designs in the database and checklist. The original
plan for this exhibition called for that to be the total, but now we are
just one-third of the way through the cataloging, with 200 designs still
I had an exciting moment while cataloging the 1907 Fenno edition of IK
Marvel's Over His Cigar. You may recall a companion volume from
this series of excerpts from Reveries of a Bachelor, titled Over
a Wood Fire, that was in the previous catalog. That was signed W.S.
and attributed to Will Schrank or Schank, with a ?. The attribution was
based on Gullans' monogram list.
am revising that attribution now, based on this design, also by W.S., whom
I now believe is W.E.B. Starkweather. Something seemed very familiar about
this design and it struck me that it was similar to the unsigned 1902
Starkweather design on March of the White Guard, which also was in
the last catalog. It's copied here so you don't have to look it up.
His Cigar is illustrated, but the artist is not identified on the
title page or elsewhere in the text. The marginal decorations are not
signed, but the color plates that reproduce paintings are signed on the
original art, WEB Starkweather 1906.
is something of a mystery: The wonderful design on Lilla Perry's
Impressions is signed, but what is the signature? Stylistically I am
inclined to give it to Bernard Grosvenor Goodhue, but the monogram is not
one I've seen on others of his books, or elsewhere identified. The cloth
is vertically ribbed and is fairly hard and deep-grained, so all the black
stamping has green lines running through it vertically, where the cloth
was not compressed to its lowest level. Was this an intentional
technique? It's a beautiful effect. But the monogram is broken up to
be almost unreadable. Here are two enlargements of it--it occurs
twice, as the design is repeated on the back cover. If you know this
monogram or otherwise have a clue about this design, please let me know!
Next to the two instances of the monogram is a notion I had about what it
actually might be, if it is Goodhue.
to subscriber Robert Beasecker at Grand Valley State U. for suggesting
several designs, including this 1903 one on His Little World. Robert
inquired whether I knew who the designer was. It is signed with a
list had Anna Hasselman, 1903 for the conjoined AH, so I sent that
information off. Then it struck me that the corner ornaments looked an
awful lot like Alberta Hall's geometric-Art Nouveau work, as in these from
the last catalog:
monogram generally has a long descender between the A and H. The Boss
is also 1903, to confuse matters further. I asked John Lehner if he had any
Hall monograms with conjoined AH and no descender, and he found one on the
title page of the Henneberry edition of Ruskin's Ethics of the Dust.
It's more squared off than the one on the Merwin, but reinforces the
likelihood it's correct. Although I haven't seen other
Halls with ships or trees, the stylistic similarity of the design is too
great. The semi-circle that the ship is in is like the inverted one that
holds the skyline on The Boss. His Little World is a peculiar
hodge-podge of elements that seem unrelated—free floating trees
penetrating a ship vignette with corners floating in the middle of the
cover. Far from the crisp designs we usually associate with Alberta Hall.
year Stuart Walker sent me a list of Evelyn W. Clark designs, and several of
them will be in this catalog. One of my favorites is this charming 1901
cottage scene, with its pink sky and foreground blossoms popping out of the
in the foreground with white and pink mirror the clouds in the distance,
both in color and form, creating an unusual visual tension
December Newsletter we looked at the 1881 "Lives of American
Worthies" series binding design, by the artist who was responsible for
the proto-futurist cover on Aboard the Mavis. Another group from that
unidentified artist were the Bodley books by Horace Scudder, issued by The
Riverside Press. What makes this series particularly interesting is that we
see the evolution of this style as the books were issued.
Bodleys on Wheels (1879) to Mr. Bodley Abroad (1881).
earlier book already has the proto-constructivist elements in play—the
geometric breakup of space, lines and circles, the use of red and black. And
the free floating elements move through the space, alternately sitting on
the picture plane as illustration or drawing and floating in it, as the fish
in the sea.
By 1881 the use of deep space,
landscape, and pictorial elements has become
more sophisticated, building on the Mavis design of 1880. Mr.
Bodley Abroad goes beyond the others in anticipating future art
movements, with line work that hovers between what one might regard as
abstract expressionist and graffiti. Its controlled use in creating
illusionistic depth is remarkable, such as the way the jagged blue line
moves around the yellow triangle on the back cover, passing in front of and
I found another
little gem, an anonymous undated (©1881) book in Cassell's "Little Folks
Series" titled Brother, Sister and I. Here the Orientalist
roots of the style are more apparent, and we have almost the same moonlit
seascape in the corner, this time resurrecting the sailing ship that is
floating off the bottom of the back cover on Aboard the Mavis.
extra credit mystery challenge: Who created the wraparound design for
Holt's 1922 issue of Walter de la Mare's The Veil?
Not shown in today's Newsletter but now in
the checklist are about 20 others that have been added since the last
newsletter, including a 1906 design by Amy M. Sacker on Louisa May
Alcott's Jo's Boys, a 1905 Rome K. Richardson cover on F. Marion
Crawford's Fair Margaret, and an undated, unsigned design I
attribute to Edwin A. Abbey on Oliver Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer.
That's a nice multi-textured gold theater mask, and a detail is in the
checklist. Also look at Will Jordan's design on Vielé's Myra of the
to see many of our subscribers at The Grolier Club
for the Guild of Book Workers 19th Century Publishers'
Bindings Symposium on the 22nd of this month.
information on the above books is in the checklist. As always, go to the Subscriber's
Log-in page and enter your passcode. The updated database file is
in there too.
If you have lost your
code or have trouble logging on, let me know and I'll get you back in.