Sunday, March 30, 2014

The first post to this blog in August 2009 was about a book with a peacock feather stamped in gold on the cover, The New Day by Richard Watson Gilder [Scribner, Armstrong, 1876]. It's worth re-reading that story, because there is a connection to Margaret Armstrong, whose peacock designs are below. Here's a photo of that book to refresh your memory. Click it to read the original post.
      Peacocks and peacock feathers were a pervasive image of the Aesthetic Movement, a symbol of beauty in nature. Whistler's Peacock Room of 1877 was a monumental tribute to this theme.
     Albert Angus Turbayne is sometimes thought of as a British designer, but he was a native of Boston, born in 1866. He lived and worked in England for much of his career, and was considered among the top book artists, creating designs for trade bindings and fine bindings with gauffered edges. The September, 1900 edition of The Artist [vol. 28, No. 248, pp. 212-217] has a nice illustrated feature titled "A. A. Turbayne's Book-Bindings at the Paris Exhibition" that will give you a sense of his work and stature at that time. Look particularly at the "'Maiolica' fore-edge by A. A. Turbayne" on p. 215.
     His most familiar work is an Art Nouveau peacock binding done for Macmillan's series of books by Thomas Love Peacock.

A. A Turbayne
Gryll Grange by Thomas Love Peacock
London and New York: Macmillan & Co., 1896

     The stamping die is engraved with fine lines that reflect at different angles, so parts of the image light up differently as you move past the book or turn it in your hands.  This is a variant of the technique that lit up the 1876 cover of The New Day.

     Turbayne was a master at monograms, and was the primary designer/artist of the book Monograms & Ciphers [London: T.C.& E.C. Jack, 1906]. At various times he worked for the London County Council School of Photoengraving and Lithography, for Carlton Studio, and as a book designer for Oxford University Press. His own cipher is:

     Like many book cover designers in this period, the British artist Paul Woodroffe was also an illustrator and worked in stained glass.  For the Pre-Raphaelite writer Gertrude Hudson's romanticized tour of India that took a scathing look at British imperialism (writing as a man under the pseudonym Israfel), Woodroffe created a not-quite repeat pattern with two peacocks:

Paul Woodroffe
Ivory Apes & Peacocks by Israfel (Gertrude Hudson)
New York, London: P Mansfield & A Wessels; At the Sign of the Unicorn, 1899

     Margaret Armstrong, perhaps the most collected American book cover artist of the golden age, was also a stained glass designer, having studied with John LaFarge (as did Sarah Whitman and Alice Morse). She made a horizontally symmetrical peacock design in 1903 for Appleton's book on housekeeping for the wealthy. This cover uses bright and matte gold to achieve a lighting effect similar to the engraving on Turbayne's design, but here it is achieved by texturing the matte gold rather than hand engraving lines.

Margaret Armstrong
Millionaire Households by Mary Elizabeth Carter
New York: D. Appleton & Company, 1903

    She reprised the concept a decade later for Crowell:

Margaret Armstrong
Twenty Centuries of Paris by Mabell S.C. Smith
New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1913

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Vedder Rubaiyat

A milestone among publishers' bindings is the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, translated by Edward FitzGerald and illustrated by Elihu Vedder  [Houghton, Mifflin, 1884]. This book brought Pre-Raphaelite aesthetics and modern Symbolism into the American home. Vedder (1836-1923) also designed the cover, which was dramatically of its time and beyond. he included notes within the book about the creation of his illustrations. Regarding the cover, he wrote:
The swirl which appears here, and is an ever-recurring feature in the work, represents the gradual concentration of the elements that combine to form life; the sudden pause through the reverse of the movement which marks the instant of life, and then the gradual, ever-widening dispersion again of these elements into space.
Elihu Vedder
Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Translated by Edward FitzGerald
Illustrations and notes by Elihu Vedder
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1884
44.5 x 38.5 cm 


     This is a very large book (17.5 x 15.25 inches), bound at Riverside Press in brown goatskin, stamped in gold and black. It was issued in an edition of 100 copies and instantly recognized as a masterwork. It sold out in less than a week, despite the then enormous price of $100.00. Houghton simultaneously issued a smaller cloth-bound "trade" edition for $25. At that time an ordinary illustrated book with a stamped decorative cover using genuine gold was $1.00 to $1.50.
     You can read all about the book and see the original art for every page, including all Vedder's notes, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum website.

     The insides of the covers are elaborate as well, with gold tooled dentelles creating a border for carded satin doublures printed with Vedder's design:

     The title page:

     Each spread is on a tabbed guard, with the images, printed by the albertype process, mounted on one side of each sheet. This edition is from "remarque" plates, which include a small image in the corner of each illustration. This is the only edition with remarque proofs.

       Houghton  issued many reprint editions as the years went by, all in cloth, each smaller in scale than the previous one, and a slightly different shape. The cover design was adjusted to fit each new format, and cheaper methods of printing brought the price down to reach a wide market.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Two more by Gookin

As you saw in January, Frederick W. Gookin was fond of repetitive and symmetrical design. Here he used American eagles and revolutionary war hats to symbolize the content of A Yankee Volunteer by M. Imlay Taylor. In this design his monogram is clear and prominent.

Frederick W. Gookin
A Yankee Volunteer by M. Imlay Taylor
Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Company, 1898

The following year he designed another ornate symbolic Taylor cover for McClurg:

Frederick W. Gookin
  The House of the Wizard by M. Imlay Taylor
Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Company, 1899
Also issued with this design on green cloth

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Variant Covers with Native American Themes

The current exhibition of Native American themed bindings has 116 different designs and 25 variants. One of the great designs that was ahead of its time is Florence Lundborg's 1904 cover for Yosemite Legends by Bertha Smith. It shows the influence of Albert Pinkham Ryder, and of Whistler, at whose short-lived Paris art school she spent the winter of 1899-1900.  She had previously studied in San Francisco with Arthur Mathews at the California School of Design. Mathews, who had studied architecture with his father before attending the Académie Julian in Paris, was a strong proponent of the Arts and Crafts aesthetic. Here the mists of Tonalism are gone, but the abstraction to simplified elements remains, with the totemic border rendered in Arts and Crafts style. Variant copies of the same edition are on green and russet buckram.

Florence Lundborg
Yosemite Legends by Bertha H. Smith
San Francisco: Paul Elder, 1904

Florence Lundborg
Yosemite Legends by Bertha H. Smith
San Francisco: Paul Elder, 1904

Margaret Armstrong often created variants of her bindings. For two titles by Washington Irving she made different covers with the same spine design, with variant cloth and stamping colors for each. The current exhibition includes this display of the four two-volume sets:

Margaret Armstrong
Astoria by Washington Irving
New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1897, Tacoma Edition
The Adventures of Captain Bonneville U.S.A. by Washington Irving
New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1898, Pawnee Edition

The cover of The Indians' Book, a volume of songs, stories, photos and artwork from many Indian tribes, collected and recorded by Natalie Curtis, was originally issued by Harper in 1907 in an unsigned binding. Most likely the cover was done by Angel de Cora (Hinook Mahiwi Kilinaka), a Winnebago from Nebraska born in 1871 who studied art at Smith College, illustration at Drexel, and at Boston's Cowles Art School. She did (and signed) the title page, and also did the lettering on the additional title pages that precede each section of the book. 
     A slightly revised edition was issued in 1923. This edition contains some additional drawings, photos and other material, but not all the additional songs that Natalie Curtis had planned to include in it. On October 23, 1921 she was hit by a car while crossing a street in Paris and died almost instantly. The cover uses the same design in a different color scheme. 

 Angel de Cora (Hinook Mahiwi Kilinaka)
The Indians' Book, Recorded and Edited by Natalie Curtis
New York and London: Harper and Brothers, 1907

 Angel de Cora (Hinook Mahiwi Kilinaka)
The Indians' Book, Recorded and Edited by Natalie Curtis
New York and London: Harper and Brothers, n.d., ©1923
This copy with the publisher's printing code L-E (November, 1930)  

The variant cover for the 1936 reprint of  Blankets and Moccasins is particularly interesting because it uses an overprinting technique with semi-transparent inks to create additional colors. The first edition of 1933 includes a lengthy colophon, but only indicates that the cover design is from an Indian blanket.

Indian blanket design
Blankets and Moccasins by Gwendolin Damon Wagner and Dr. William A. Allen
Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1933, September

Indian blanket design
Blankets and Moccasins by Gwendolin Damon Wagner and Dr. William A. Allen
Caldwell, Idaho: The Caxton Printers, Ltd., 1936, December

Detail showing indigo, red, and overprinting

The enlarged detail below includes a black letter from the title. Using a less viscous, more transparent ink for the indigo would create this effect, with the ink flowing into the crevices more readily and being more transparent on the elevated parts of the weave. By using a kiss impression and greater viscosity for the red stamping, the fine texture of the cloth would be maintained and more of the red would stay high on the weave, allowing the indigo to run into the valleys. The black title is stamped with a slightly deeper impression than the blanket pattern, somewhat flattening the weave. 

For more images of covers in this exhibition and information about the catalog, click here.