October 1997 – February 1998

The nineteenth century book and book industry has bem described aptly by Sue Allen as “the transformation of what had been essentially a cottage industry into factory methods of assembly-line production. To understand the machines is to begin to understand the physical appearance of the books. The ornamentation of these covers, which might be viewed as a meaningless welter of embossed patterns overloaded with gold, was directly influenced by the technology of their manufacture.” – Sue Allen. Victorian Bookbindings. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1976.

Stylistic Changes by Decade

1830’s – naive, plain, symmetrical
1840’s – harmonius, restrained, formulaic
1850’s – exuberant, fancy, original
1860’s – somber, plain, refined
1870’s – elegant, restrained, asymmetrical
1880’s – extreme, crowded, innovative
1890’s – classic, uncluttered, artist-designed
1900’s – strong, simplified, artist-designed


Allen, Sue. “Floral-patterened Endpapers in “Nineteenth-Century American Books.” in Winterthur Portfolio, 12 (1977): 183-224.

Allen, Sue. “Machine-Stamped Bookbindings, 1834-1860,” in Antiques, 115 (March 1979): 564-572; reprinted in Guild of Book Workers Journal, 18 (1979-80): 1-23.

Allen, Sue and Charles Gullans. “Decorated Cloth in America,” Publisher’s Bindings 1840-1910. UCLA, 1994.

Carter, John. Publisher’s Cloth: An Outline History of Publisher’s Bindings in England 1820-1900, Bowker, New York, 1935.

Comparato, Frank E. Books for the Millions. Stackpole, Pennsylvania, 1971.

Gullans, Charles B. and John J. Espey. “American Trade Bindings and Their Designers 1880-1915,” in Collectible Books, ed. Jean Peters, Bowker, New York, (1979) 32-67.

McLean, Ruari. Victorian Publishers’ Book-Bindings in Cloth and Leather. University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, 1973.

McLean, Ruari. Victorian Publishers’ Book-Bindings in Paper. University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, 1983.

Maser, Frederick E. Bookbinding in America 1680-1910: With an Essay by William Spawn. Bryn Mawr College, Bryn Mawr Library, 1983.

Rogers, Joseph. “The Rise of American Edition Binding,” in Lehmann Haupt, Bookbinding in America. Bowker, New York, 1967.

Tomlison, William and Richard Masters. Bookcloth 1823-1980. D. Tomlison, Stockport, Chesire, England, 1996.

This exhibition was prepared by Pamela Spitzmueller, Cynthea Mosier, Pam Barta-Kacena, and Bob Joly. We would also like to acknowledge and thank these people: Evan Hapner, Sara Romig, Autumn Rasmus, Anna Wik, Heidi Nakashima, Anna Embree, Kristen Rassbach, Lucy David, Richard Green, Glen Epstein, and Ed Folsom.