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!