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Decorative Bindings

This small catalog collects decorative bindings, some designed and signed by the likes of Margaret Armstrong and Will Bradley, published between 1879 and 1910.


For thirty years, many artists enjoyed using the cover of a book as a canvas. Complex and sophisticated, thanks to developments in bookbinding machinery, their designs appealed to a growing readership.

It just might be that - for once! - these books could stand up to being judged by their covers. Any questions?


Cyrano de Bergerac

Cover signed by Will Bradley, a well known graphic artist and book designer in his day. Some smudging and general wear. No date on title page. Copyright page dated 1898 to Charles Renauld, and 1899 to Stokes. 214 pages. Interior clean and unmarked. Includes frontispiece and additional illustrations after photographs of the play premiere.



Wild Life in a Southern County

Spare smudges here and there, but an eye-catching binding it remains. Title page dated 1879. 344 pages, plus 8 pages of ads. Interior is clean and unmarked. Jefferies was a gifted nature writer, admired for his sensibility and observations of the world around him.



Nonsense Botany, etc. etc.

Some wear to head and foot of spine and corners. Title page dated 1888. Stated fourth edition. Copyright page not dated. 142 pages. Nonsense illustrations to accompany nonsense alphabets by Edward Lear, in characteristic form. Boasts over 160 illustrations. Some excess glue at the front endpaper and half-title page.



The Friendly Year

The cover design is signed by FP (FD?), which I'm unable to identify. Sunning around board edges with wear to spine ends. Frontispiece illustration. A timeless yearbook of selections from the works of Henry van Dyke. Interior unmarked.



The Grandissimes

Binding designed and signed by Margaret Armstrong,a well known designer for book covers. Spine is very sunned, unfortunately, which takes away from the effect of the gold. Top edge gilt. Title page dated 1901. Copyright page dated 1880. Interior clean and unmarked.



Fisherman's Luck

Cover signed by the designer Margaret Armstrong. Gold stamping on spine. Wear to cloth at ends of spine and at corners. Title page dated 1908. Copyright page states this is a new edition from new plates, dated 1905 and 1908. 285 pages. Illustrated throughout.



A Knight of the Nets

The cover is signed "A M", though the designer is currently unidentified. There's some discoloration to the front board along the right edge. Some shelf wear. Title and copyright pages dated 1896. 314 pages. Interior is clean.



The Birds' Calendar

Brief gift inscription on front free endpaper. Title and copyright pages dated 1894. 351 pages. Interior unmarked. Frontispiece and other terrific illustrations throughout -- chickadees, nuthatches, grosbeaks, wrens, hummingbirds at their nests, etc. An informal diary of a year's observations of birds made by the author in Central Park, in 1893.



A Puritan Witch

Ink has worn away in a few places, but the design is still striking. Sunning to spine. Cover signed by Harry B. Matthews, who designed books for a few years at the turn of the century. Title and copyright pages dated 1903. Stated first printing. 266 pages, with 3 pages of ads. Interior unmarked.



John Bull, Junior, or French as She is Traduced

Top edge gilt. No date on title page. Copyright page dated 1888. 172 pages, plus two pages of ads. Bumping to corners. Unmarked interior.



Shakespeare's Heroines on the Stage

Set of two volumes, complete. No date on title page. Copyright page dated 1895. 355 pages across both volumes, with illustrations from photographs and rare prints throughout. Volume one's back cover has a thin streak of -- what? paint?-- traveling two inches or so down it. Each volume has a nice frontispiece -- Maude Adams as Juliet in the first, Fanny Davenport as Cleopatra in the second. Interiors unmarked.



A Prince of Sinners

Cover signed by the Decorative Designers firm. Their monogram appeared on over 25,000 book covers, dust jackets, and text decorations. Some shelf wear and wear to corners. A clean and bright binding overall. Title and copyright pages dated 1903. 386 pages, followed by a few ads. Pencil inscription on front endpaper. Interiors otherwise unmarked.



Songs of Night and Day

Wear to cloth along joints and to corners. Light foxing on the endpapers. Previous owner's signature signed on the front free endpaper. Interiors are otherwise clean. Title page dated 1896. First edition. 144 pages. A very good copy of this scarce work. As a preacher, author, educator, and humanitarian, Gunsaulus was a noted figure in Chicago.



The Admirable Crichton

Some bumping to corners and shelf wear, most noticeable at the head of the spine where there's some chipping. No date on title or copyright page, but appears to be the 1914 printing. 234 pages. Color illustrations throughout. Front and rear free end paper is toned in a splotchy way. Small previous owner's signature on half-title page



The Chatelaine of La Trinite

Some darkening to spine, with bumping at either end of spine and corners. Title and copyright pages dated 1892. 176 pages. Two previous owner's bookplates affixed -- one, belonging to Frederick W. Skiff inside the front cover, and the second -- to Estelle Doheny -- on the front free endpaper. Skiff was the founder of The Acorn Club and a significant collector of books. When he died in 1947, his books were auctioned off and 800 were bought by Countess Doheny (raised to the rank of Papal Countess by Pope Pious XIII in 1939). What does all this lead to, you might ask? Well, the Countess was married to Edward Doheny, the inspiration for Upton Sinclair's "Oil!".



Amos Judd

Cover is signed by Amy Richards -- unfortunately not much is known about this designer. Light sunning to spine. Volume is a bit shelf-cocked -- you might say it has an overbite. Title pagedated 1901. First copyright 1895. 251 pages. Drawings in color throughout by A.I. Keller. Interior is clean and unmarked.



Lorna Doone

The cover illustration is based on one of Frank T. Merrill's illustrations for the book. Engraved by John Andrew & Son. Some edgewear and bumping to corners. Interior unmarked.



The Old Chelsea Bun-Shop

Light wear to head and foot of spine. Maroon endpapers with previous owner's ex-library plate neatly affixed inside front cover. Title page dated 1899. 322 pages. Interior is clean and unmarked. Illustrations throughout.



Quality Street

This well-loved volume does have some shelf wear and bumping to corners, but we must especially note a tear in the cloth at the bottom of the front joint.  Heavy foxing to endpapers -- not much of a problem anywhere else. No date on title page. Copyright page dated 1901. 197 pages. Color frontispiece and color illustrations throughout.



Tales of the Canterbury Pilgrims

Illustrated by Hugh Thomson. Cloth is fragile over spine, and chipped in area in joints and at top of spine. Top edge gilt. no date on title page. Copyright page dated 1904. 364 pages. A plethora of illustrations throughout.



The Merry Wives of Windsor

Some sunning to spine, with bumped corners and light edge wear. Title page dated 1910. 170 pages. Some foxing throughout, not heavy. Color illustrations throughout.


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