The Book Cover Art of
Thomas Watson Ball

Collected and Described by Richard Minsky

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Above: The Limited Edition

"It is a beautifully written and wholly terrific thing. The story of Ball's life and work, both as told in Minsky's words and in his own memoir, is fascinating. It is also a classic tale of a designer struggling to maintain his own aesthetic standards in the cruel world of business."

Ina Saltz
Chair, Art Department
City College of New York

Author, Typography Essentials


most of them created between 1897 and 1905
with additional variants: the same design in different colors,
on different titles, or with fragments of the design used on a later edition

(click here to view the gallery installation)

Questions? click to CONTACT Richard Minsky.

Below are a few of T. W. Ball's book covers.
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Thomas Watson Ball was a Modernist book cover designer during the period 1897–1905. He was an innovator in abstract landscapes, such as the 1899 cover to the right.

Until his portfolio of covers was discovered in the 1980s his work was unknown to scholars of binding design. He worked in a wide variety of styles and most of his covers are unsigned. The catalog identifies several genres of his work, including decorative symmetrical and floral covers, nautical, landscape, pictorial silhouette and cameos.

Several of the distinct styles he created were emulated by other designers, particularly his use of silhouettes and the application of Impressionist concepts to stamped cloth book covers.

This is the first exhibition devoted exclusively to his book cover art. The catalog essay places the covers in the context of his life and his work as a church decorator with mastery of Gothic painting styles and techniques, as an art director at Harper's 1894–1900, at Colgate 1901–1907, and at Richard Hudnut 1910–1913, and as an American Impressionist painter, particularly of marine and landscape subjects. Excerpts from his previously unpublished memoir bring his story to life.

The catalog is issued in two formats to complement the print editions of American Decorated Publishers' Bindings 1872-1929.

Limited Edition pictured at the top of this page, printed in full color on an Indigo 5000 digital offset press with the same text as the Deluxe Edition, but in the slightly smaller 12" x 9" format, in a flexible cloth cover with a gold-stamped panel adapted from a T. W. Ball design, an archival inkjet printed dust wrapper, and polyester protective overwrap. Each copy is hand bound on order. Please allow 4–6 weeks for delivery. Edition of 100 signed and numbered copies.

Price: $450.00

The Book Cover Art of
Thomas Watson Ball





Deluxe Edition limited to 25 signed and numbered copies with color photos of all books in the exhibition, printed in archival high resolution inkjet, in a hardbound cloth binding by Richard Minsky, based on a T. W. Ball cover design, as pictured to the right. It is in the 13" x 9.5" format. Each copy is hand bound on order. Please allow 4–6 weeks for delivery


The Book Cover Art of
Thomas Watson Ball

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