Rare Book School

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Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List

Publishers' Bookbindings, 1830-1910

Sue Allen


Preliminary Advices

Please bring a magnifying glass or loup that enlarges ca. 5×, 7×, or 10× to class with you. Bring photographs, rubbings or photocopies of publishers' bindings that have special interest or meaning for you.

The books and articles listed below are standard works many of you may be familiar with. An acquaintance with them is a good preparation for our class discussions:

  1. Allen, Sue. "Floral-patterned Endpapers in Nineteenth-Century American Books," in Winterthur Portfolio 12 (1977): 183-224.
  2. ______. "Machine-Stamped Bookbindings, 1834-1860," in Antiques 115 (March 1979): 564-572; reprinted in Guild of Book Workers Journal 18 (1979-80): 1-23.
  3. Allen, Sue and Charles Gullans. Decorated Cloth in America: Publishers' Bindings, 1840-1910 (Los Angeles: William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 1994).
  4. Ball, Douglas. Victorian Publishers' Binding (Williamsburg, VA: Bookpress, 1985).
  5. Boss, Thomas G. Bound to Be The Best: The Club Bindery (Boston:Boss, 2004).
  6. Comparato, Frank E. Books for the Millions (Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole, 1971).
  7. Gaskell, Philip. A New Introduction to Bibliography (London: Oxford Univ Press, 1972; corr edn 1974; several times reprinted, most recently (1995) in paperback by Oak Knoll Books): 230-250 ("Edition Binding").
  8. Gullans, Charles B. and John J. Espey. "American Trade Bindings and Their Designers 1880-1915," in Collectible Books, ed Jean Peters (New York: Bowker, 1979): 32-67.
  9. Krupp, Andrea. "Bookcloth in England and America, 1823-50," Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 100 (March 2006): 25-87.
  10. McLean, Ruari. Victorian Publishers' Book-Bindings in Cloth and Leather (Berkeley: University of CA, 1973).
  11. Tanselle, G. Thomas. "A System of Color Identification for Bibliographical Description," in Studies in Bibliography 20 (1967): 203-34. (Full text available online via this link.)
  12. ______. "The Bibliographical Description of Patterns," in Studies in Bibliography 23 (1970): 71-102. Both Tanselle pieces are reprinted in his Selected Studies in Bibliography (Charlottesville: Univ of VA, 1979). (Full text available online via this link.)
  13. Wolf, Edwin, 2d. From Gothic Windows to Peacocks: American Embossed Leather Bindings, 1825-1855 (Philadelphia: Library Company, 1990).
  14. This biography of a leading publisher gives excellent background material as to audience and economic factors:

  15. Tryon, Warren S. Parnassus Corner: A Life of James T. Fields, Publisher to the Victorians (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1963).
  16. A valuable study from the recent "history of the book" publications is:

  17. Zboray, Ronald. A Fictive People: Antebellum Economic Development and the Reading Public (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).