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Filed under: Selected purchases with funds provided by Friends Of Thomas J. Watson Library

A selection of American decorated bindings

A selection of American decorated publishers’ bindings (1880-1930) from a collection of one hundred bindings recently purchased with funds provided by the Friends of The Thomas J. Watson Library.

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selectionsSelections from the
Poetry of Robert Herrick
(Harper & Brothers, 1882) Designer/illustrator:
Edwin A. Abbey (1852-1911)

Edwin A. Abbey was a prominent American artist during this period of technological and artistic innovation in book design.  Known for his illustrations of Shakespearean works, Abbey also designed luxury gift books like this one.

AlhambraThe Alhambra
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1891)
Designer: Alice Cordelia Morse (1863-1961)

Alice Cordelia Morse was one of three prominent American women to pioneer the artist-designed commercial book cover.  Beginning in the late1880s, the Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts movements transformed the field of decorative arts creating new working opportunities for women artists. The works of Morse’s contemporaries, Margaret Armstrong and Sarah Wyman Whitman, are also displayed in this case. The Alhambra, a luxury gift book designed in the style of a Moresque binding, is probably Morse’s best-known book cover.

flightThe Flight of a Moth
(Dodd, Mead & Company, 1904)
Designer: Charles Buckles Falls (1874-1960)

Charles Falls is known for his wartime victory campaign poster designs. He also designed stage sets, costumes, textiles, and illustrated books – most notably the ABC Book (Doubleday, Page and Company, 1923).  Falls is one of the few artists who created designs that filled the entire book cover, as seen in this example.  Signed “F” on bottom, center spine.

princessThe Princess
(The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1911) Designer:
Bertha Stuart (1869–1953)

Bertha Stuart was born in Oregon and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Between 1902 and 1912, she created over one hundred seventy-five book cover designs, page decorations, and illustrations for major New York City publishers.  Stuart’s cover design for The Princess explores floral themes prevalent during this period. Signed “BS” on bottom left corner of cover.

The Tales of Tom Thumtack Architect 
(The William T. Comstock Company, 1914) 
Designer/illustrator: Rockwell Kent (1882-1971)

Rockwell Kent gained renown for his book illustrations and striking graphic designs. Architectonics began Kent’s 55-year career as a book artist, during which he illustrated 37 volumes. This is the first book illustrated by Kent, and it has both black and white and color illustrations.

pippaPippa Passes
(Dodd, Mead, and Co., 1900) Designer/illustrator:
Margaret Neilson Armstrong (1867-1944)

Margaret Armstrong was a designer, illustrator and author. As a book-cover designer active from 1890-1940, she designed over three hundred book covers and hundreds of illustrations. Her strong interest and ability in representing nature resulted in the production of numerous popular book covers.  Armstrong’s preparatory water-color drawings for Western Wildflowers (G. P. Putnam & Sons, 1915), which she co-wrote and illustrated, are in the Department of Drawings and Prints.  Signed “MA” at the bottom right of design, front cover.

SlipperMy Lady’s Slipper
(Dodd, Mead & Company, 1899)
Designer: Alice Cordelia Morse (1863-1961)

Morse’s publisher used the Art Nouveau front cover stamp of My Lady’s Slipper for three titles. These include A Singer from the Sea by Amelia E. Barr (1898) and Lyrics of Love and Laughter by Paul Laurence Dunbar (1903). The flexibility of the design shows Morse’s ability as a commercial designer.  Signed “AM” on cover, at bottom right corner of design.

FaunThe Marble Faun:
or, the Romance of Monte Beni
(Houghton Mifflin,1899)
Sarah de St. Prix Wyman Whitman (1842-1904)

Sarah Whitman’s book cover designs appeared from 1884 to 1917 on books for the Houghton Mifflin Company. Today, Whitman is credited for having been the first professional artist to design book covers on a regular basis.  She was a pioneer in women’s education and like Alice C. Morse and Margaret Armstrong, was a designer of stained glass.  Whitman was best known for her beautiful understated designs.

IrvingTales of a Traveller
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1891) Designer:
George Wharton Edwards (1859–1950)

George Wharton Edwards was an American impressionist painter and author of several books on travel and history. Like The Alhambra, this luxury edition of Irving’s popular tales was produced at great expense as a holiday gift book for 1891. Signed “GWE” on bottom right corner of cover.