Preliminary Checklist from the catalog of the collection
American Decorated Publishers' Bindings, 1872-1929
by Richard Minsky


Miller, Alice Duer
Calderon's Prisoner 
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, October 1903.
Cover design by Margaret Armstrong
[signed MA, Gullans & Espey 168, plate 12 in greenish tan cloth]
Our copy is green cloth, not noted in G&E

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This collection developed from an interest in the evolution of bookbinding design as applied to publishers' editions. It features representative examples of work by more than 80 artists who were active during the "golden age" of commercial cover design. The catalog essays approach the various design paradigms from their aesthetic influences and social contexts. 

The printed edition of the catalog is divided into several sections on influences and trends in cover design, with more detailed descriptions of the books than you see in the checklist. These sections identify pictorial, figurative, and decorative motifs, and show how they were approached by different designers. There are 16 sections, including  The Oriental InfluenceThe Motor Car Hits the Cover (Cover Designs of Automobiles Before 1911), Trees and the Picture Plane (After Will Bradley's In Russet and Silver, 1894), On and Under Water, Travel Books, and other subjects.

A Deluxe Edition and a Limited Edition are available. Each book comes with a CD-ROM that has a complete illustrated checklist of the collection in html format that you can read onscreen with any web browser, a data file that you can open in any database or spreadsheet program in case you want to sort or search the information, and a PDF of the entire Deluxe Edition that you can read onscreen and zoom in on pictures. A sample two-page spread reduced in resolution for faster  download, is here (1MB pdf). The CD-ROM is also available by itself.

There are examples of different editions of the same title, often published simultaneously under different imprints, with different covers. Other editions were released by a publisher with several bindings at different price points, and for different tastes.  Door-to-door subscription sales used sample books with some of the content of the edition, with a choice of cover designs that often included plain or elaborately stamped cloth or leather to harmonize with any home library or budget. 

A bibliography of the resources used to build this collection is in the catalog, including the works of Sue Allen, Charles Gullans and John Espey, Jean Peters; Trade Bindings Research Newsletter; publications and exhibition catalogs of The Grolier Club.  

click here to see a two-page sample from the catalog (1 MB pdf)

1. A Deluxe Edition limited to 25 signed and numbered copies printed in archival high resolution inkjet, in a foil stamped cloth binding by Richard Minsky, adapted from a cover design in this collection. There is 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.

2. A Limited Edition with the same text as the Deluxe Edition in a slightly smaller format, with a foil-stamped paper cover and a printed paper wrapper, in an edition of 100 signed and numbered copies, with about 250 color pictures in the text sections and a hundred or so additional images in the checklist. The CD-ROM is included in a separate plastic case. 

3. A CD-ROM 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 small images is also on the disk.

Click here to see the order form.

See installation views of these books in the gallery, with the list of artists identified as cover designers.

IMPORTANT: The checklist below is  is provided solely as an example to give a sense of this collection. It is not the complete checklist. Some items in this list have been removed, about 300 others have been added. The exhibition featured about 100 bindings. The collection includes 500 designs. About 200 books are "reference copies" of designs that are are important for study and comparison, but are in less than very good condition. They provide examples of variant editions and additional examples of particular designers' works. Sometimes they are the only copy or best available copy of a particular design that we would like to have a better example of, and have placed on want lists. Cataloging and photographing these copies also may assist curators, collectors and dealers in identifying books suitable for their collections, or identifying designers of books currently in hand, and be a useful resource for scholars.

Please use the contact form or telephone if you have further questions.

Note: The photos in the checklist are included primarily for identifying the bindings. The colors will appear different on different monitors, as well as the effects of different lighting angles, or whether the image was shot with a camera or scanned, and the different reflective characteristics of gold and colored stamping foils used on the covers.



Abbot, Willis, illustrated by W.C.Jackson and H.W.McVickar. Blue Jackets Of '76. New York, Dodd, Mead, 1888. Three different bindings on the same edition. One has gold stamping on blue cloth and cream canvas/buckram, with the cream cloth representing a sail, with the rigging in gold, and the title in "rope" style. The other two have a pictorial of a sailing ship firing cannons, with a brown mast on the spine and the title on the spine in gold. One on tan cloth is stamped in brown, black, white, and gray. The other is on blue cloth, with the brown darker and redder, and the white in the sails is stamped in the the area that is gray on the tan cloth, with no gray stamping. The stamping on the tan variant was also used on ivory cloth, an example of which can be seen in the beautiful catalog of The Grolier Club's 2000 exhibition, The Art of Publishers' Bookbindings 1815-1915, from the collection of Ellen K. Morris and Edward S. Levin.

Albertson, Charles C. Light on the Hills. Lippincott, 1905.

Alden,W L. The Moral Pirates. Harper's Young People's Series. Harper, 1922 [DD]

Allen, James Lane. The Reign of Law. Macmillan, 1900.

Arnold, Edwin, Sir. ADZUMA or the Japanese Wife. Scribners 1893. (Margaret Armstrong).(2 versions: white, gold and dark green stamping on light green cloth, and on white cloth (the white cloth version has soiling to the cloth).


Bacheller, Irving. Keeping Up With Lizzie. Illus. W.H.D. Koerner. New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1911, above left. Signed with unidentified "A", see enlarged detail above. Above right is Harper &  Brothers 1911 edition, green cloth with white lettering, red car, black window & gent. The collection includes a dozen volumes issued before 1911 with images of automobiles on the cover.


Babcock, William Henry. The Tower Of Wye. Philadelphia: Henry T. Coates, 1901. [signed VD]

Bangs, John Kendrick. Mr. Bonaparte of Corsica. drawings by H. W. McVickar. New York, Harper and Brothers, 1895 (reference copy). [unsigned, probably H. W. McVickar].


Barclay, Florence L., Illustrated by F. H. Townsend. The Mistress of Shenstone. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. [MA, same binding as The Rosary]

Barclay, Florence L. The Rosary. In the same MA binding as Mistress of Shenstone.
Reproduced full page in Gullans and Espey, "American Trade Bindings and their Designers," Collectible Books: Some New Paths, Jean Peters, ed. R.R. Bowker, 1979, p. 42, plate 1.

Barr, Amelia. The Man Between. Author and Newspaper Association, 1906 [Harry B. Matthews]


Barr, Robert. The Unchanging East. Boston: L.C. Page, 1900. Two copies of volume 2 only, with the same design, one on white cloth, one on green. [signed AB, Alfred Brennan]

Barrie, J. M. Tommy and Grizel. Charles Scribner's Sons. 1900. [MA]

Bingham, D. The Bastille. James Pott, 1901.  New York, James Pott and Company, 1901. In blue cloth dj's with the same spine design. [ MA] 

Blindloss, Harold. Thrice Armed. New York Frederick A. Stokes Company, 1908. [signed GWH, George W. Hood]

Boisgobey, Fortune du. An Ocean Knight. Frederick Warne & Co. 1891.

Bonner, Geraldine. Rich Men's Children. Illus. C.M. Relyea. Indianapolis, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, October, 1906. [Rome K. Richardson}

Both, Armand (illus.) The Half-Smart Set. New York, Frederick A. Stokes Company, April, 1908.

Boughton, George H., Illustrated by George H. Boughton & Edwin A. Abbey. Sketching Rambles in Holland. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1885. [Edwin A. Abbey]

Bouvet, Marguerite, Illustrated by Helen and Margaret Armstrong. Sweet William. Chicago: A.C.Mcclurg & Co, 1890. [MA]

Brady, Cyrus, Illustrated by Will Crawford. Hohenzollern: A Story of the Time of Frederick Barbarossa. The Century Company, 1902. [Lee Thayer-DD]

Brown, Alice. Country Neighbors. Houghton Mifflin 1910.


Browning, Robert (Margaret Armstrong illus). Pippa Passes. Dodd, Mead, 1900. [MA]

Bunner, H.C. Jersey Street and Jersey Lane. Scribner,1896. [MA]


Burns, W.J. and Ostrander, I. The Crevice. Grosset & Dunlap 1915. 

Byron. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage. NY, H. M. Caldewll, n.d.

C. S. C. [Calverley, Charles Stuart]. Fly Leaves. With additions from the author's earlier volume of "Verses and Translations." 3rd Edition; with a New Poem NY: Henry Holt (Leisure Hour Series), 1872 (but the new poem is dated 1873).

Cable, George W.; Illustrated by Stanley M. Arthurs. Posson Jone and Pere Raphael .New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1909. [MA]

Cable, George Washington. Bylow Hill. NY: Scribner's, 1902. [MA]

Carleton, Will. Farm Ballads. New York, Harper, 1873 

Carleton, Will. Farm Festivals. New York, Harper, 1882. 

Carleton, Will. City Ballads. New York, Harper, 1886

Catlin, Henry G. Yellow Pine Basin. Boston (MA): Small Maynard and Co. 1898.
 [signed with hard to read initials, BAA?]

Charles C. Albertson. Light on the Hills. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1904 [signed H]

Connor, Ralph. The Sky Pilot. Revell, 1899 [Frank Hazenplug]

Cook, Dr. Frederick A. Discovery of the North Pole. Used salesman's sample book and a copy of the edition.

Cook, Joel. Switzerland Picturesque and Descriptive. The John C. Winston Co. (The International Press), 1904. Gold samped red cloth in red cloth dust jacket and slipcase. [unsigned, The Decorative Designers]

Crane, Laura Dent. The Automobile Girls Along the Hudson. Philadelphia, Henry Altemus Company, 1910.

Crawford, F. Marion. Cecilia. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1902. Signed Cx.

Crawford, F. Marion. A Rose of Yesterday [George Wharton Edwards]

Crockett, S.R. The Firebrand. New York: McClure, Phillips & Co. 1901.

Davis, Norah. The World's Warrant. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1907. 

Deland, Margaret. An Encore. Harper 1907. In glassine dj and box (box broken).

Deland, Margaret. Ill. Charles Dana Gibson. Partners. New York & London. Harpers, 1913. In monochrome dj.

Continue to checklist page 2

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All descriptions and photos in this catalog 2003-2006 Richard Minsky


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