American Decorated Publishers' Bindings, 1872-1929
A Collection of 200 Volumes

The current exhibition in the gallery includes about 100 books from this collection. These are in very good to near fine condition, as seen in the photographs below and on the checklist page. In addition to the exhibition quality books, there are some volumes with defects, in the collection to complete it for study purposes. Those are books which it has not been possible to obtain better copies of at this time, though they remain on "want" lists.

Please note: I welcome comments and corrections on any of the captions or catalog information! Click on contact to send me a message. There is a preliminary checklist of the 200 books in this collection, with some additional photos of the covers. There is a list of the 32 known designers included in this collection, of which 26 are linked to photos of their books.

click to read Book Art: The Hollywood Connection
(an excerpt from the catalog essay)

Below: Wild Flowers of Colorado (1885) features Emma Thayer's flowers. The very modern looking binding below that is Return of the Mavis, an unsigned 1880 cover design that is remarkable for its forecasting and integration of many design paradigms that developed in the 20th century. Both these titles (not these copies) were included in the fabulous Grolier Club exhibition in 2000.

Above: That Farm is a great example of the Decorative Designers 1914 use of fountain bleed. The River's Children is a beautiful 1904 Art Nouveau and Pre-Raphaelite crossover gold panel binding, and Reveries of a Bachelor uses a swirl of color in 1906 that predates abstract expressionism.

Below: The Garden of Allah is shown in several (1904-1907) bindings I attribute to Frederick Garrison Hall and George W. Hood. Click the link to see a page about this book and its several editions.

Above: Left is Evelyn W. Clark's cover on John Gayther's Garden (1902) and a Henry Thayer design for Hawthorne and Lavender (1901).

Below: Water is a seductive design motif. On Board the Mary Sands silhouettes a sailboat in the moonlight, an Adrian Iorio design from 1911. Love and Rocks is a very advanced 1898 design from the Boston publisher Estes and Lauriat. This sort of use of flat light color and gold became popular in the Art Deco era a generation later. The Tides of Barnegat is a1906 example of Frank Berkeley Smith's work. The exhibition has a wide variety of his designs, and other designers' use of the "landscape at the top of the cover."

Above: The "Spell" series featured gold and color stamped landscapes of the subject places, this one being the 1909 volume on Italy. Next to it is a 1921 Decorative Designers binding using textured dies to create two tones of gold on Faery Lands of the South Seas. Behind it in the case (not seen in the photo) is another copy, with the same design printed in yellow and black.

Below: The left case shows three beautiful Margaret Armstrong designs. The right one shows Armstrong, William Dana Orcutt, F.C. Gordon's great 1901 design for Among The Pond People,  and a beautiful unsigned 1907 binding on Miyakawa's Life of Japan.

Below: Edwin Austin Abbey took Art Nouveau to a new place with these two designs, on Herrick's Poems (1882) and Sketching Rambles in Holland (1885). Both designs were in the 2000 Grolier Club show.

Above: The woods are as compelling a subject as the sea, and Will Bradley might be credited with the first use of this motif, inspired by seeing an autumn hillside and silver sky through the trees while under commission from Stone and Kimball to design In Russet and Silver (1894), Above it is Amy Sacker's 1902 design for The Kindred of the Wild. To the left is the unsigned 1903 binding on Hesper, and to the right a gold crescent moon and stars seen through evening woods on the unsigned 1907 cover of God's Calendar.

Left and below: The cabinet features works by Sarah Wyman Whitman, Alice Cordelia Morse, Margaret Armstrong, George Wharton Edwards, Bertha Stuart, Will Jordan, Henry Thayer and Esther M. Crawford. 

Thank you for visiting the new gallery. It is open by appointment near Hudson, NY. Please contact me if you would like to visit.

The current exhibition is American Decorated Publishers' Bindings 1872-1929. There are about 75 exhibition-quality works on display, and the collection of about 200 titles will be sold as a single item, with a catalog and essay by Richard Minsky. The collection may be sold before the catalog is finished. Some installation shots are above, and you can read a sample entry online by clicking here. Artists represented in this exhibition include (click the linked names to see works in the catalog):

The attribution of unsigned bindings, and even some signed ones, is a fascinating area, and the sleuthing may involve comparisons of image, typography, and knowledge of who was working for which publisher at a given date. Experts can disagree. Click here for a beautiful example, and an illustrated checklist of the 200 volumes in this collection.