Monday, February 22, 2021

1903 Covers by Thomas Watson Ball

In 1903 Thomas Watson Ball was hired as the Art Director for Colgate (until 1907), and his book cover lettering style follows the Art Nouveau logo he developed for their toothpaste. He used similar lettering for Robin Brilliant and Handicapped Among the Free, also incorporating Art Nouveau elements in the designs.

Handicapped Among the Free
by Emma Rayner
New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1903
Cover by Thomas Watson Ball

Robin Brilliant
by Mrs. Henry Dudeny
New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1903
Cover by Thomas Watson Ball


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

One More River, an Art Deco cover in transparent jacket

Here's a beautiful Art Deco publisher's binding that has an unusual dust jacket and presents many questions. One More River is the final installment of the trilogy "End of the Chapter", which  is the third trilogy of The Forsyte Saga. This is the American edition.

One More River
by John Galsworthy
New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933
Beige cloth stamped in black and gold
In an acetate dust jacket with printed paper flaps

1. This is the first publisher's binding I have had with a clear dust jacket and printed paper flaps. The photo above shows it in the jacket. Many books have come in a glassine jacket, which is not as clear as this, and is more fragile. This feels like a plastic material, and I am advised by several people that it is most likely acetate. A similar style of jacket was used in 1930 by the Lakeside Press, Chicago for the limited edition of Moby Dick with Rockwell Kent illustrations, though that flap was not printed. It has a slightly rippled surface, which you can see when the light is at a certain angle.  The photo below is taken with a flash to get reflections from the texture:

Showing reflections from camera flash

The printed flaps are tipped onto the edge of the plastic about 1/16", likely glue, but I am not sure whether heat or a solvent could be used to melt the acetate to the paper. The plastic was then wrapped around the flaps so they are fully enclosed, then wrapped around the book:

The transparent dust jacket with flaps. The color behind the plastic is the scanner pad.

The attachment of the acetate to the back of the dust jacket flap.

Following an inquiry to the exlibris listserv I received an email from Alan Tannenbaum, indicating that this type of dust jacket was patented in England in 1929 (Pat. GB330781) by Lewis George Kitcat, master bookbinder from the House of Kitcat. In a followup he sent me patent images and text, and an article in The Carrollian | The Lewis Carroll Journal [No. 22, Autumn, 2008] by him and Selwyn Goodacre titled "Macmillan's Ledura Bindings with Transmatic Dust Jackets." The article describes four Carroll books issued in this sort of jacket, and he adds eight British publishers who used this form of jacket between 1925 and 1939. 

There is no indication on our Scribner edition that this was licensed from the British patent, and I am now trying to determine whether the British patent secured any American rights, and if this Scribner form of the jacket is identical to the Kitcat patent, or whether the method of attaching the paper flap is different enough that it was not infringement. The patent indicates celluloid as a material, but is careful not to limit it to that.

The dust jacket has preserved the brightness of the gold.  The book was published at the bottom of The Great Depression, and it is not genuine gold.  You wouldn't know that from looking at this copy, but I have another copy where the "Japan gold" (a bronze or brass leaf) has oxidized and darkened.

2. What edition is this? Normally a fancy cover is put on a first printing of a first edition, and plain covers often come later. But this edition does not have a capital A on the copyright page, a convention used by Scribner's on first editions after 1930 until the 1970s. There are dozens of copies of this book available online, identified as "first edition" with the A on the copyright page. Those copies have plain purple covers. In other respects this edition is the same, with 1933 on the title page. The text on the dust jacket flaps is the same, though on orange paper for this edition. Perhaps it was a holiday gift book edition. I'm looking for advertisements with pictures of this cover. If you see one, please let me know.

***UPDATE November 4, 2019: I just acquired another copy in this cover design, and it has the "A" on the copyright page. Apparently both bindings were simultaneously available on the first printing, and also on at least one later printing. That makes it even stranger that this design is scarce.

3. There is no monogram or other identification of the cover artist. The Art Deco lettering and decorative elements surround an abstract pictorial that resembles a woodcut. I have not yet identified the artist, though at that time Art Deco woodcut masters Rockwell Kent and Lynd Ward were doing work for Scribner's. Here it is without the plastic dj:

The cover and spine.

If you think the clear plastic dust jacket is a later addition where someone cut the flaps and added them, I learned about it from John Lehner, who has one that is identical. There are very few copies with this design showing on the Internet.

Scan with the cover closed, no dust jacket.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Dealer has Some Nice Bindings

I just bought a few books from Ron Lieberman of THE FAMILY ALBUM, ABAA. He has posted many in albums that you can view on the Internet.  Even if you are not buying, there are a lot of interesting covers to see, many of which have been in my exhibitions. Here are the links:

If you see something you like, contact him:

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A newly discovered cover by Thomas Watson Ball

Thanks to Prof. Ina Saltz of the City College of New York, who recognized Ball's lettering style on a copy of this book in the CCNY Library. 

Thomas Watson Ball
Kingsley by Emma Rayner 
New York: G. W. Dillingham Company
n.d., copyright 1900, 1901

Some research still needs to be done on this edition. It is scarce, with only ten library copies listed in WorldCat. Not all of those are in the original binding.  The design incorporates the "flaky" white common to this period. See the September 6, 2009 post for more about the use of white on covers at that time.

Ball did this for Dillingham the same year as A Master of Fortune, another maritime scene that also used the flaky white.  It's not as scarce a book as Doris Kingsley, but is hard to find with all the white intact. I had a nice copy that was protected by the original dust jacket in the Second Exhibition of American Decorated Publishers' Bindings 1872-1929 (2008):

Thomas Watson Ball
A Master of Fortune
by Cutcliffe Hyne
New York: G. W. Dillingham Company
n.d., copyright  1901

Dillingham used lighter cloth and deleted the white stamping on later copies. That year they also had T. W. Ball do the cover with flaky white for Norman Holt, see the blog post of August 31, 2016.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Books for Sale with Interesting Covers

Whether or not you want to acquire them, you might enjoy seeing some publishers' bindings from my collection that are available for purchase. Click the cover to download a PDF of about 4 MB.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

More covers by Thomas Watson Ball

We can deduce from the lettering style, panelization, publisher and date that T. W. Ball designed the cover of Janice Meredith, which includes a paper onlay of a woman, likely not by Ball.  The onlay is somewhat unusual in that it bears the notice "COPYRIGHT 1899 BY P L FORD" (see detail below). Was Ford claiming rights to the image, or the cover design as well as the text? The normal copyright notice is on the verso of the title page.

Janice Meredith
New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1899 

 Enlarged detail of the onlay

Grosset & Dunlap released a Photoplay edition in blue cloth illustrated by stills from the 1924 film starring Marion Davies in the title role, replacing the original onlay with a reproduction of the image from a poster featuring the actress in the role. The lettering was slightly reworked as well. Look carefully at the author's name, and how the curlicue at the foot of the "L" is shortened so it no longer breaks the bottom line of the border. Then look at the slight differences of the other letters, all somewhat cruder and less lyrical than the original TWB lettering.

Janice Meredith
by Paul Leicester Ford
New York: Grosset & Dunlap
Undated Photoplay edition, ca. 1924

The distinctive Ball ampersand, first noted by Sue Allen, and the peculiar Ball "R" distinguish the lettering of Jimty & Others, and similar stylized flowers appear on other Ball covers. This was done during Ball's 1894-1900 tenure as an "art editor" (would now be called "art director") at Harper's.

Jimty, and Others
Illustrated by W. T. Smedley and A. B. Frost
New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1898

The striated sky and silhouette soldiers identify Norman Holt as Ball's work, along with characteristic lettering and his "by".

Norman Holt
Illustrated by John Huybers and Seymour M. Stone
New York: G. W. Dillingham, n.d., c 1901

As always, thanks go to the indefatigable bibliomaniac John Lehner, with whom I correspond frequently. Since 2004 we have exchanged 10,000 emails on the subject of publishers' bindings. Yes, ten thousand! 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Blanche McManus Mansfield

One of the most interesting, prolific, and mysterious book cover artists of this period was Blanche McManus (B. McM.). After her marriage in 1898 she added Mansfield and started using the monogram B.M.M.  You may have seen her cover for The King's Highway by Amelia Barr (Dodd, Mead, 1897) in the post here March 26th.

Blanche McManus Mansfield, 1898
As Told by the Typewriter Girl by Mabel Clare Ervin

Boston: L. C. Page and Company. 19.3 x 13.3 cm.

 Her 1898 poster-style design for As Told by the Typewriter Girl features a symmetrical double cover of a woman in a red dress wrapped in typewriter ribbon.  The mirrored images meet at the spine, where the spool from which the ribbon unwinds becomes the base of a fan, which also resembles the mechanism inside a typewriter.
         If you are reading this the week it is posted, my copy in the above photo is offered on eBay. Click here to view that listing, which has more photos.

       Born in Louisiana in 1870, Blanche McManus studied art in London and Paris before opening her Chicago studio in 1893. In 1896 she was doing covers for Stone & Kimball in Chicago and Dodd, Mead in New York. Her first children’s book, The True Mother Goose, was published by Lamson, Wolffe in Boston the same year. 

Blanche McManus Mansfield, 1896
Kate Carnegie by Ian Maclaren [John Watson], Illustrated by F. C. Gordon
New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. 19.5 x 13.3 cm.

      McManus’ 1897 cover for A Charm of Birds uses curved gold lines to add movement to a scene that otherwise might appear flat and lifeless. 

Blanche McManus Mansfield, 1897
A Charm of Birds by Rose Porter
New York: E. R. Herrick & Company. 19.5 x 11.8 cm
Also issued in green cloth.

She used similar swirling lines that year for L. C. Page on Richard Mansfield’s Blown Away, a striking and fan­ciful double-cover pictorial with symmetrical nearly identical images connected by a spine panel. 

 Blanche McManus Mansfield, 1897
Blown Away by Richard Mansfield
Boston: L. C. Page and Company. 19.3 x 13.3 cm

 At first glance the covers appear mirrored, but a close look shows an Ark on the right mountain and castle on the other.

Blanche married Francis Miltoun Mansfield in 1898. They traveled through Europe and North Africa, creating illustrated travel books together that were published by Page from 1903 to 1912. For these books he used the name Francis Miltoun.

Blanche McManus Mansfield, 1905
Rambles in Brittany by Francis Miltoun [Mansfield], Illustrated by Blanche McManus [Mansfield]
Boston: L. C. Page & Company. 19.5 x 13.7

The book was reissued as The Spell of Brittany. The copy below is from 1927.

Who’s Who in America for 1910 shows Blanche Mansfield’s studio address as Martigues, France. Francis then became the United States Consular Agent in Toulon, where Blanche finished her illustrated book The American Woman Abroad, published by Dodd, Mead in 1911. 

Blanche McManus [Mansfield], 1911
The American Woman Abroad. Written and Illustrated by Blanche McManus [Mansfield]

New York: Dodd, Mead and Company. 21.5 x 14.5 cm.

Francis was also writing for a journal about the metals industries, and visited steel factories and the like wherever they traveled. It's likely that he was a spy in the years leading up to and into the World War. 

No work of Blanche McManus Mansfield has surfaced that is documented as later than 1912. The cover on Utah : The Land of Blossoming Valleys by George Wharton James (Page, 1922) is mono­grammed M c M. Stylistically it is similar to a design done in 1899 by T. W. Ball, and another unsigned design from 1900. Page might have had this design on file, or, like The Spell of Brittany above, it may have been used on an earlier title we have not yet found.

Blanche McManus Mansfield, 1922?
Utah: The Land of Blossoming Valleys by George Wharton James
Boston: The Page Company. 24.5 x 16.4 cm

Her life after 1912 is shrouded in mystery, with one report suggesting she was confined to a mental institution in New Orleans from the 1920s until her death in 1935. Perhaps Paul Hessling at UNCG will solve this mystery, as he did with the mysterious disappearance of Ethel Belle Appel.