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.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Happy Birthday Amelia!


Amelia Edith Huddleston was born 185 years ago today, March 29, 1831, in Ulverston, Lancashire, England, the daughter of a Methodist minister. At the age of 19 she married Robert Barr, a successful Glasgow merchant in the wool trade. 

He went bankrupt shortly after their marriage, and they emigrated to America when she was 23. They had nine children, six of whom died, the last three boys along with her husband in the yellow fever epidemic in Galveston in 1867. Finding herself a single mother with three girls, one of whom was mentally challenged, she moved east, settled in New York and became a writer. Her first commercially successful novel, Jan Vedder's Wife, was published by Dodd, Mead in 1885.  

Amelia Barr wrote primarily for women, and most of her novels are thoroughly researched historical romance. An admirer of William James, religion remained integral to her life, but she believed in the spirit world and the heresy of reincarnation, including it in her writing. After 1885 she wrote about two books a year and died just shy of her 88th birthday in 1919 with 70 published books.

Amelia E. Barr was one of only five women identified on the dust jacket of Lyle Wright's American Fiction 1876-1900 as "Popular women writers . . . in demand by an eager reading public."  Now widely forgotten, she has been reincarnated due to the extraordinary covers issued on her books, designed by some of the best trade binding designers of the period. She wrote primarily for women, and was an influential supporter of women's rights who died the year before women in America won the right to vote.  

In December I posted images of her early books in Eastlake designs, and last July posted covers by Thomas Watson Ball and Charles Buckles Falls.  The exhibition includes a complete original manuscript of a novel, illustrated magazine serialization, and book editions. The exhibition also includes newspaper serialization, uniform edition reprints, "pocket" format editions, and more. It was extended through this week for Women's History Month. A catalog of the exhibition, a limited edition of 50 copies, has been produced, and delivered to 38 pre-publication subscribers. 

Below is the cover designed for Dodd, Mead & Co. by Alice Cordelia Morse for the first edition (1891) of A Rose of a hundred leaves:

Over the next decade or two several reprints in "pocket" size were issued with variants on this design:

 The 1897 Japonisme cover created by William Snelling Hadaway for The Century Company edition of Prisoners of Conscience was adapted for the catalog cover:

 Blanche McManus Mansfield had an abstract path in her design for The King's Highway (Dodd, Mead, 1897):

Alice C. Morse used a path in 1898 for the Dodd, Mead cover of I, Thou, and the Other One:

Happy Birthday Amelia E. Barr!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lecture in Minneapolis January 23

I will be presenting a talk at the Minneapolis Institute of Art at 11:00 am on Saturday, January 23 on The Art of American Book Covers.
                                        [click that for details]

Minneapolis Institute of Art
2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404