American Decorated Publishers' Bindings

Collected and Described by Richard Minsky

(click the title below to view the exhibition archive)
American Decorated Publishers' Bindings, 1872-1929
Collected and Described by Richard Minsky


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Above: the cover of the Limited Edition
Foil stamped Hahnemuhle Bugra-Butten paper wrapper

As with stamped bindings of the period, changes in the angle of the light cause the stamping to illuminate in different ways.

Above: the same cover with different lighting.

The technique for creating the stamping die was developed by Minsky from study of the bindings in this collection.

Click here to read two sample pages

Click here for the catalog of the second exhibition

Click here for the catalog of the third exhibition

You are welcome to visit the gallery
to view the current exhibition and the gallery archive

If you would like to read a copy before purchasing one (or instead of purchasing one),
click here for a list of institutional collections that have purchased it.

Inside this book is gathered an astounding collection of turn-of-the-century bookcovers. Though beautifully produced, it is no mere coffee table book, but comes with full bibliographical descriptions. Grouped together under headings such as 'Automobiles' or 'Trees,' the covers play against each other in a dramatic way. It is as if you were privileged to go into a number of libraries and bookstores and lay one book beside another. In one leap Richard Minsky has put himself in the forefront of collectors and scholars of this period when each cover was a work of art.

—Sue Allen (1918-2011), Author of many books and articles on publishers' bindings

The catalogs of publisher's bookbindings being done by Richard Minsky are a fundamental resource in the field. In my last conversation with Sue Allen, she praised his work and told me Richard was "the one to watch." Richard's research has been invaluable in documenting the extensive holdings of the Book Arts Collection at the University of Washington Libraries and providing correct citations for the digital site we are preparing.

—Sandra Kroupa, Book Arts and Rare Book Curator, University of Washington Libraries

It really is an excellent piece of work–handsomely done, full of wonderful information, good to read!

I'm very glad we have it.

—David E. Schoonover, Curator of Rare Books, University of Iowa Libraries

This is an artist's book, an exhibition catalog, and an exploration of art history seen through publishers' book covers. Through 500 examples we look at the work of more than 80 known artists and many anonymous ones. The evolution of aesthetic explorations during this period includes a wide variety of styles, including Arts and Crafts and pictorial graphics. Several different approaches to the study of these covers are demonstrated. The notion that commercial binding design merely applied the art of its time to book covers is dispelled, and we see some astoundingly modern American works that pre-date art movements, including prototypical examples of Futurism in 1880, Art Nouveau in 1881, Constructivism in the 1890's, abstract landscape in 1903, Surrealism in 1904, and more.

Richard Minsky acquired all 500 examples of these binding designs specifically for the purpose of illustrating this book, photographed and/or scanned the covers, wrote the text, designed every page, printed the Deluxe Edition in his studio and bound the books. You can read two sample pages of the layout in lower resolution PDF format (for faster download).

Read the review of this book in Fine Books and Collections

There are three different editions of this catalog

1.Deluxe Edition limited to 25 signed and numbered copies printed in archival high resolution inkjet, in a foil stamped cloth binding by Richard Minsky, based on a cover design in this collection. This edition includes a printed version of the checklist with images of all the books in the collection that were not reproduced in the text. The CD-ROM version of the catalog is included, mounted in a recess in the back cover. This is a fine art production.  Each page is printed the same way a "giclée" art print is done, on an Epson R1800 six color 5760x1440 dpi archival pigment ink printer, with the pages hand fed one sheet at a time. The image quality is astounding.

Above: the cover of the Deluxe Edition. Adapted from one of the designs in the collection, the cover stamping is the same size as the original 19th century book. The spine stamping is enlarged from the original spine to the size of this volume.

Above: the cloth dust wrapper and slipcase of the Deluxe Edition. The same spine design is on the dust wrapper, for a beautiful shelf appearance. 

Left: The CD-ROM is mounted in a recess in the back cover of the Deluxe Edition, seen here in a detail photograph. It is set into the Fabriano Roma endpaper



American Decorated Publishers' Bindings
Volume 1

DeluxeEdition: $1,800.00 Cannot be ordered online. Please inquire.

2. Limited Edition with the same text as the Deluxe Edition in a slightly smaller format, in a foil-stamped Hahnemuehle Bugra Butten paper cover (pictured at the top of this page), and an archival inkjet printed Rives BFK dust wrapper. The foil stamping of each cover was done by Richard Minsky. This is a fine art production. Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies, with about 250 color pictures in the text section. The printed checklist in this edition adds about a hundred more color images bringing the total to about 350 pictures of the cover art. All 500+ cover images are on the CD-ROM, which is included in a separate plastic case. Printed in Atlanta, Georgia on a Hewlett-Packard Indigo 5000 digital offset press on acid-free HP Indigo 80# dull coated cover paper.

American Decorated Publishers' Bindings, 1872-1929, Volume 1

Limited Edition:

 $ 750.00

If you do not yet have the next two volumes in this series, you can see the details about them by clicking

Volume 2    and     Volume 3

3. CD-ROM Edition with all the text and images of the Deluxe Edition in PDF format and a database including separate fields for title, author, publisher, date, designer, description of binding, variants, and images from scans or digital photographs of all the books in the collection. The discs used are MAM-A Gold Archive, which claims a 200+ year durability. A browser-viewable version of the checklist with "thumbnail" images of every book is also on the disk. 

American Decorated Publishers' Bindings, 1872-1929, Volume 1

CD-ROM Edition:


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Institutional Collections
In many institutions you may have to make an appointment to read it. Call ahead, find the location of the book, and ask about the procedure, as it varies from one place to the next.

Deluxe Edition
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Yale University, New Haven CT
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Indiana University
, Bloomington, IN
Oberlin College, Oberlin, OH
Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Fales Library, New York University, New York City
Amherst College, Amherst, MA
Minneapolis Institute of Arts. MN
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO

Limited Edition
Honnold/Mudd Library, Claremont, CA
University of California, Davis, CA
Princeton University
, Princeton, NJ
University of Idaho, Moscow, ID
Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
Reed College, Portland, OR
The Morgan Library & Museum
, New York City
University of Michigan
, Ann Arbor, MI
University of Wisconsin, Madison WI
Pennsylvania State University, University Parrk, PA
McGill University, Montreal, Quebec Canada
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 

The Grolier Club, New York City
The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
FSU/John and Mable Ringlng Museum of Art, Sarasota,FL
Winterthur Museum, Winterthur, DE
California State Library, Sacramento, CA
University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Columbia College Chicago, Chicago, IL
University of California, Los Angeles, CA
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
, New York City
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Victoria & Albert Museum, South Kensington, London UK
New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
New Hampshire Institute of Art
, Manchester, NH
Boston Athenaeum
, Boston, MA
Amon Carter Museum
, Fort Worth, TX
Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA 
Cornell University
, Ithaca, NY
University of Iowa
Iowa City, IA
Koninklijke Bibliotheek, Den Haag, The Netherlands

Bienes Museum of the Modern Book
, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI
Brown University, Providence, RI
Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, AZ
University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
The British Library, London, UK
University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, NY
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Smith College, Northampton, MA
Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, AR
University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY
Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris
Trinity College, Hartford, CT
Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

CD-ROM Edition
Clark Art Institute, Williamstown, MA
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence RI
University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
Georgetown University, Washington, DC
Art Gallery of Ontario
Toronto, Ontario Canada
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA   
The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA  
Duke University, Durham, NC
Harvard College
, Cambridge, MA
California State University
, Fullerton, CA
Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin
Ohio University Library, Athens, OH
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA
Jackson Library, University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Newark Public Library, Newark, NJ
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC
University of San Diego, CA
University of Maine, Orono, ME


1. All items must be prepaid on new accounts. Institutions (libraries, accredited schools, museums) may use purchase orders subject to terms. Please inquire.
2. The form above or
telephone may be used to reserve your order pending timely receipt of your remittance.
3. New York residents must include applicable sales tax. Dealers and Exempt Organizations must include properly completed resale or EO certificate.
4. Shipping and handling are charged at cost and will be added to orders not picked up in the gallery. 
5. You are welcome to visit the Gallery by appointment in Hudson, NY.