A mighty and conspicuous presence


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A discussion of book cover designs by Alice Cordelia Morse and Margaret Armstrong, including those for Dodd, Mead, and Company's editions of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poetry. The Dunbar poetry books also featured photos by the Hampton Institute Camera Club, original copies of the photos reside in the Hampton University Archives. This presentation places these book covers in the larger context of the changes to the book industry in the Victorian era, and the rise of numerous women graphic designers and illustrators in that period. Images come from the Hampton University Library and the presenter's personal collection donated to the Library.

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  • In this presentation, I will begin with an introduction to the late 19 th -century book trade, from the standpoint of publishers, rather than authors. I will discuss the ways that book production changed from the late 18 th century through the mid-19 th century, and how the shift toward automation and industrialization promoted the creation of a new type of book that was accessible to an increasingly diverse audience. This presentation will address the role of women in both traditional and industrial book production. I will show pictures of work by female book designers as found in the collection of the Harvey Library at Hampton University, with special emphasis on book designs featured in book reviews and advertisements from the period. Some of these books are illustrated by series or later editions that extend beyond the period properly called Victorian. Most of my examples are from 1890 to 1895 and are of U.S. origin. I will, however place these examples in context with the mid-century precedents and contemporary British developments.
  • Before 1891, books published in the U.S. were largely English or at least British in origin. This was a result of a loophole in U.S. copyright laws that allowed U.S. publishers to reprint foreign editions without complying with foreign copyright laws. Translations would count as U.S. publications, so publishers would owe something to the translators. Foreign publications originally written in English were essentially royalty-free. Not only did this loophole hurt the British authors who weren’t compensated for their work, this system prevented many U.S. publishers from taking a chance on American authors. According to an article from the Independent in December 1899, the American authors could only hope to prove themselves successful with serialized publications. A popular serial would later be converted into a novel. In the case of British authors, the serials were often compiled into unauthorized editions in the U.S. before the authorized version was made available for purchase. This chart represents new titles from mainstream publishers as presented by the Independent from data collected by Publishers’ Weekly. Privately printed titles and subscription books are not included in this list. As you can see, post 1891 American titles would need additional marketing. There are examples of advertisements from the period, touting works as “never before published as a serial.” Other ads, of course would acknowledge the existence of a popular serial version or promote the author by invoking the title of a previous work. It is clear that in this increasingly crowded marketplace, publishers needed to help each book make its way to prospective consumers. According to Publisher’s Weekly Dec. 1894, the problems with Canadian copyright laws were even more complex, because Canadian publishers were subject to unenforceable British laws. The most widely available English language imprints had been pirated editions published in New York, and it was virtually impossible to collect the 12.5 % royalties mandated by the Canadian Parliament. The Canadian copyright act of 1889 was supposed to make Canadian publishers more competitive, by allowing Canadian publishers to produce English books with 10% royalties. In practice, most royalties were never sent to the authors on the other side of the Atlantic.
  • Until the 19 th century, books were sold unbound or sewn into simple paper covers. The collector would select a binder to construct books to meet the style of his library, according to his tastes and means. Important collectors, such as Jean Grolier, became as well-known as the bindings that they commissioned. Historically, the boards would have been sewn to cords threaded into the boards and covered with leather. This is an example of an early embossed cloth cover. The darker red cloth on the spine is an old repair. The strapwork design is based on earlier examples of tooled leather covers. The new, industrial method of book production called for books the be created separately from the cover or case. Then the sewing supports and endsheets would be glued or cased into the cover. Over the course of the nineteenth the century, new machines permitted the automation of more and more processes, from typesetting, to sewing, to decoration.
  • This is a classic gift book, featuring a textured cloth, blind embossed design and gilt floral spray. During this period, the stamping became increasingly intricate, displaying the technical virtuosity of the engraver of the stamp.
  • The detail photo on the right shows the level of intricacy of the floral designs used in the 1850’s The engravers who created these stamps were highly-skilled craftsmen, but their approach to design was found to be rather costly and inefficient.
  • By the time of the American Civil war, shortages led to the creation of somewhat more restrained designs as is seen in this 1860’s example on the left. By the 1870’s, however designs became increasingly flamboyant. In the example on the right, the design wraps around the book from the front to the spine. Bullet and Shell is a fine example of a cover designed specifically to sell that book. The earlier design for Nurse and Spy was completely generic and could have been use on any book about any topic.
  • On the left, Putnam’s Hudson Edition of Washington Irving’s Columbus illustrates the Eastlake style, which was inspired by Charles Eastlake’s Hints on Household Taste . The British Edition of Hints on Household taste was published in 1868, with a US edition following in 1872. The Eastlake style became prevalent in the American decorative arts scene in the 1870’s. Further British influences appeared in American design when the public was introduced to the latest English decorative arts at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876. In contrast to the purely ornamental approach of the Eastlake and earlier styles, there was a separate trend toward pictorial designs. Because the creators of the designs were skilled craftsmen but not formally trained in art and design, such designs tended to be composed in an awkward manner. The craftsmen placed a high value on the intricacy of the stamps rather than the overall visual impact of the composition. Dissatisfied with the inconsistency of this work, the publishers went looking for a new approach in the 1880’s.
  • The publishers were looking for high-impact designs. This Edward Austin Abbey book cover for the land of the Midnight Sun was hailed as one of the strongest designs of the era. The only problem with using famous artists for this type of work was that they could command high prices for their work. The publishers were looking to make the process more efficient and less expensive. The artist-designed cover was more efficient from the standpoint of engraving the stamps, yet the artwork, itself, could be expensive. By 1889 booksellers were complaining in the pages of Publishers’ weekly that cloth-covered editions were overpriced. At the time, a typical novel might retail for 50 cents unbound and $1.50 in a cloth case binding. At a typical wholesale price of 95 cents, the bound copy was not very desirable for the bookseller. Increasingly, the artwork was promoted to encourage otherwise reluctant retailers to create colorful and attractive retail displays to move merchandise with a higher markup.
  • [ Scientific American 1880; Van Kleeck Women in the Bookbinding Trade 1913]; Following the Civil War, in the U.S., several economic and social forces converged to increase the numbers of women in the work force. Women worked in cottage industries in various hand crafts.By the late 19 th Century, women were being trained in decorative arts at the Cooper Union, the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Drexel, and the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (now Moore College of Art). Bookbinding and book cover decoration became part of the school curricula as it became apparent that women could be successful in that industry. The transition to mechanized production revolutionized the publishing industry and had a direct impact upon the aesthetics of commercially-produced books. In these two images, you can see the transition from the hand folding and sewing on the left, to machine sewing in the lower right.
  • The strong guild system in England helped to preserve traditional binderies and binding styles. This allowed women to slowly enter the ranks of recognized binders. In the U.K., Sarah Prideaux was considered the most accomplished female binder of her day. She trained other women binders and wrote about the history of bookbinding. Miss Irene Nicholls was another successful English binder, as was Evelyn Nordhoff in the U.S. Never the less, the trade remained dominated by male practitioners throughout the era. In fact, Miss Nordhoff reported that that Miss Prideaux usually employed men in her shop in duties normally performed by men, because there were so few women in the trade. All three of these women were trained by T.J. Cobden-Sanderson, one of the most highly regarded English binders. In describing bookbinding as a career for women, Evelyn Nordhoff, felt that it would be a suitable occupation for women of sufficient means to have the luxury of education or apprenticeship training, which might include travel to England or continental Europe, but not so much means as to be averse to doing hard work. She saw that there were increasing numbers of single women who did not want to be a burden to their fathers and siblings, and wanted to find a good means of supporting themselves. She believed that traditional fine binding was an ideal career for such women. Of course, the purchase of finely bound books remained inaccessible to average people.
  • And the publishing industry wanted to get its products into the hands of average people. This image from Munseys Magazine Dec. 1899 shows a large female crew collating folded leaves of the magazine. In this same volume, a reporter from the Paris Exposition Universelle Worlds Fair would boast that US printers could produce 48,000 sixteen-page newspapers, in five colors, every sixty minutes. The fastest Parisian newspapers could print no more than 10,000 four-page copies per hour. Clearly the emphasis in the minds of American publishers was quantity, not quality. This provides further reinforcement for the notion that the move toward more distinctive and creative book covers had nothing to do with artistic excellence, and everything to do with increasing sales. The advantage for the woman working at the design end rather than the production end of the publishing industry was that she could work from home and avoid this sweatshop-like atmosphere.
  • While many within the arts and crafts community lamented this emphasis of quantity over quality, not even Elbert Hubbard could block the march of progress. The trend was captured in George Putnam’s 1894 novel On the offensive , where a character describes a young lady “making designs for initial letters and tail pieces” for newspapers in New York. When she submitted a design for a book cover competition and almost won, the response from the publisher was that her design “would have cost seven cents a copy[...], and they would have lost money on the book at that rate.”
  • These shop window displays for Robert Louis Stevenson and Eugene Field were intended to increase sales. Colorful and distinctive book designs would catch the eye of passers-by.
  • This British example from 1892 and this French example from 1882 both exemplify the technical virtuosity of stamp engravers. It is important to keep these examples in mind, when examining the work of Sarah Wyman Whitman and her followers. By 1892, the intricate design on the left would have appeared to be a throwback to an earlier era.
  • When Sarah Wyman Whitman arrived on the scene in the 1880’s her designs were welcomed as a breath of fresh air. With subtle visual suggestions of traditional leather binding forms, Whitman’s work was instantly recognizable. She developed a distinctive font that looks as modern today as the day it first appeared. She moved toward lighter colors and matte, textured textiles. Motifs were simple, stamping was monochromatic, and gold was optional.
  • Both of these book covers marked a sharp departure from the work of other artists. Please excuse the old repairs that obscure the designs. My Lady Pocahontas , from 1885, features a coarse, minimally-sized fabric, which reviewers of the time compared to the colonists’ clothing. Sarah Whitman’s design for The Old Garden also uses an unusual textile.
  • Again, the light colors and restrained, minimalist composition became closely associated with Whitman’s publisher, Houghton and Mifflin. Whitman is the only book cover artist so closely associated with a single publisher throughout her career. One of the few married artists, she was known by her husband’s name Mrs. Henry Whitman, and she stood alone among American women artists specializing in this field in the 1880’s, when both British and American male artists were still actively involved in book cover design. Whittier’s Snowbound was an old bestseller whose popularity was revived by the new book cover.
  • Here are two two-volume sets, one from W.D. Howells, and the other from Lafcadio Hearn. This manner of highlighting the title in a cartouche was one of the main requirements of the publishers, and distinguishes these from the designs of the 1840’s to 1870’s, when the cover design often had no relation to the title of the book.
  • The next artist to receive serious attention for her book covers was Alice Cordelia Morse. Morse trained at the Cooper Union under Candace Wheeler, later apprenticing in stained glass with John LaFarge. Then she went to design stained glass for Louis Comfort Tiffany. She found book cover designing to be similar to stained glass, in that the design was constrained in its dimensions and proportions. Eventually, Miss Morse would pursue further study at Pratt in Brooklyn. She received critical attention in Publisher’s Weekly for the 1890 edition of Wordsworth’s Sonnets, exhibited at the Architectural League of New York 1890 exhibit. On Newfound River from 1891 was one of many book covers Alice Morse would create for Thomas Nelson Page’s books published by Scribners. The Critic offered advanced praise for the very restrained cover Alice Morse created for George Moore’s Vain Fortune in 1892. Both of these items were selected for exhibit at the Aldine Club in 1892.
  • A rose of a hundred leaves by Amelia Barr was exhibited at the Aldine Club. This cover was fairly expensive to produce, because it was printed in two colors plus gold onto a paper onlay or applique. White printing inks tended to flake off, so white was typically created by adhering white paper or white cloth to the cover. Later, Margaret Armstrong would use the same technique for The Old Gentleman of the Black Stock by Thomas Nelson Page and Pippa Passes by Robert Browning.
  • Brander Matthews praised the use of color and composition on the cover Miss Morse designed in 1890 for Two years in the French West Indies , the second of two Lafcadio Hearn covers she created. For those titles, the artist wished to evoke a sense of place by incorporating tropical flora into the design. The dark green strapwork was reminiscent of traditional 16 th -century French designs. The Portia Series on the right, was a collection of books on etiquette and self-culture, this volume being Sherwood’s the Art of Entertaining . The cover had to be fairly generic to work for the whole series, published by Dodd, Mead, and Company from 1891 to 1892.
  • Her cover design for Mrs. Burton Harrison’s Sweet Bells Out of Tune was exhibited at both the Grolier Club exhibit of 1894 and the Architectural League of New York in 1895. For ease of display, the covers designed for the Century company were decorated on both front and rear. This pattern of blind stamping was inspired by 16 th -century French tooled leather bindings. Morse credited the influence of the Aldine and Grolier clubs with improvements in graphic design. The terms “allied arts” and “decorative arts movement” gained currency during the period, and organizations such as the Architectural League included all of the decorative arts, as did the Tile Club of New York. These groups proved to be instrumental in the training of the leading women in graphic design.
  • Although filled with infighting and controversy, the Woman’s Building at the World’s Columbian exposition created enormous opportunities for female artists. Alice Morse was fortunate enough to be a former student of Candace Wheeler, the coordinator for women’s art. Sarah Whitman, and Margaret Armstrong also participated in the exhibition.
  • These two Alice Morse designs were included in the Art and Handicraft of the Women’s Building at the World’s Columbian Exposition. Apparently Crow’s nest and Belhaven tales was exhibited as part of the library, rather than as a work of art, yet it was featured as art in the magazine Art Interchange in 1894. In that article, the cover was misattributed to Margaret Armstrong; however both of these covers were among the Morse designs donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1923.
  • The Alhambra came to symbolize Queen Isabella, and by association, the Isabella Society which fought to give women equal representation at the World’s Columbian Exposition. This unsigned design by Alice Morse was reproduced in half-tone in the chapter she contributed to Art and Handicraft in the Woman’s Building of the World’s Columbian Exposition. It’s inclusion might be dismissed as coincidence were it not for a vase exhibited in the Cincinnati room of the Women’s pavilion with the same title. This cover design was also exhibited at the Architectural League of New York 1892 exhibit.
  • In the Grolier Club exhibition catalogue Commercial Bookbindings: an historical sketch , Sarah Whitman’s cover for My Lady Pokahantas was praised for its restraint in color, composition, and proportion. Alice Cordelia Morse’s 1890 design for Robert Louis Stevenson’s Ballads was described as “beautifully simple.” This book cover was also reproduced in the Woman’s Book , as a representative book cover designed by a woman. The Woman’s Book described careers for women and also featured an illustration of a book cover by Margaret Armstrong. According to the Grolier Club exhibit catalog, the evolution of cloth book covers from the “protoplasmic primordial, atomic globule” to the modern cover that “sells the book” was compared to the new status of women “of uncertain origin and slow and steady growth, but a mighty and conspicuous presence. By 1894, Alice Morse and Margaret Armstrong were mentioned as the top designers and Sarah Whitman was regarded as a pioneer. She may have started to be marginalized by her attachment to Boston and Houghton and Mifflin, as the younger artists were free-lancing for Scribners, Putnam, Harpers, and even Midwestern publishers, such as Chicago’s McClurg, and Indianapolis’ Bobbs-Merrill
  • Alice Morse’s “fine cover” for Marse Chan by Thomas Nelson Page, and Margaret Armstrong’s cover for Art out of Doors by Mrs. J.K. Van Resselear were also featured in the exhibit.
  • Armstrong’s cover was also reproduced for Brander Matthews’ “Notes of a Book Lover,” published in the Century Magazine in 1894. A viewer at a distance could guess that the book concerned landscaping. The publisher would have been pleased that there was only one color of ink besides the gold title on the spine. Unfortunately, the white printing ink was not resistant to abrasions, so it was not very durable.
  • By 1894, book advertisements featuring illustrations of the cover art had become increasingly common. In this instance, Alice C. Morse is credited in the advertisement, although her name does not appear anywhere on the book cover or the title page. It should also be noted here that Dodd, Mead, and Company became the publisher that most aggressively promoted books through their cover art, using illustrated ads and mentioning the names of the designers. Scribner’s probably ran a close second. .
  • In this example, the artists is once again identified in advertisements, but not on the book, itself. This blind stamped design was repeated on two later books by this same author, only changing the title and the embossed gold medallion. Miss Morse was not credited in the advertisement for those other books, yet they were promoted as being bound “uniform” with the earlier title.
  • In 1894, book cover artists had begun to sign their work. Although some notices in the press had credited the artists, the artists names were not widely recognized in the absence of the monograms. This article in the Bookman indicates that such recognition is a new thing. Margaret Armstrong’s signed cover for F. Marion Crawford’s Constantinople is shown here. According to the Trade Binding’s Newsletter from Cal State Fullerton, only one of the covers Miss Armstrong designed in 1894 was signed, but in 1895, only five out of 19 covers were unsigned. Armstrong was the daughter of an artist from a well-to-do family who lived in the home that once housed the Tile Club of New York. Stanford White, a friend of her father’s helped to remodel the house when the family moved in. The Club met in a small annex to the house that later served as a studio for Margaret and her sister Helen. The building is now part of the NYU campus. Margaret’s sister Helen studied art with William Merrit Chase, another Tile Club member. The tile club’s aim was to integrate all of the decorative and fine arts, so the members collaborated with each other on various projects. David Maitland Armstrong was also called upon by Tile Club member Stanford White to decorate the hotel that would later become known as the Helmsley Palace.
  • Here is another example of the artists’s book cover design in an advertisement from 1895. In this case, the design is used without a likeness of the book itself. On the right is another Scribner’s ad. The book being promoted has a sort of chartreuse colored cover. Will Bradley, a rival artist, declared the color unfit for a lady of quality. It is not known what impact the color had on the sales of the book, but this edition was not available in other color variants.
  • Although Morse had established her career in 1897 designing book covers, and had worked before that in the stained glass workshops of John LaFarge and at Tiffany, she her work was not always recognized. The Critic and Publisher’s Weekly mentioned her name in connection with various book covers, but the average consumer might have missed that information. This notice in the Bookman illustrated the signed cover for a Venetian June. The brief biography confirms the attribution of several other book covers, while also mentioning Miss Morse’s credentials as a graduate of the Cooper Union and Pratt and as a medallist at the World’s Columbian Exposition.
  • The publisher, Putnam, also issued a rather generic, unsigned burgundy and gold design for use within a multivolume set. One disadvantage of a more distinctive cover was that it could not be used on books with different subjects. Miss Morse did create several series designs.
  • By 1897, Morse had reduced her monogram to a conjoined “AM.” The press coverage of book covers was no longer associated with reviews of the books themselves.
  • This design was offered in both cloth and leather at different price points. This ad from Putnam describes the cover as well as colored borders designed by Margaret Armstrong. Without a picture, the publisher expected the 1897 audience to recognize Armstrong’s name as a mark of quality. This holiday version is identified in the ad as the Tacoma edition, because Putnam had published numerous other Washington Irving editions. This was offered in cloth for six dollars and in goatskin for twelve dollars, clearly intended as editions de luxe.
  • This cover shows the most prominent use of Miss Morse’s monogram, among the books in the collection. Although the printing in Book Notes is too small to read, I would like to point out that this page also features Covers by Amy M. Sacker and Amy Richards. Less famous book designers, E.B. Appel, Ella Hallward, Mary Whinlock and Isabel Sinclair are also represented here. Out of ten designs here, only two were created by men, and one of those is a cover for a Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush, which was also issued in a holiday variant imprint designed by Alice Morse.
  • Both of these early Paul Laurence Dunbar titles from Dodd, Mead and Co., feature signed designs by Alice Morse. Lyrics of Lowly Life has the separate A and M, whereas Lyrics of the Hearthside features a conjoined monogram. Neither title page credits the artist.
  • Poems of Cabin and Field was Alice Morse’s Tour de Force for Dodd, Mead, and Company. It was Architectural League of NY 1900 exhibit and Paris Exposition Universelle. This was one of a small handful of books where Morse is credited on the title page. This was the first of four Dunbar poetry books illustrated with photographs by the Hampton Institute Camera Club. The Club was made of amateur photographers from the faculty and Staff of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, now Hampton University. It is this connection to the Camera Club that lead to my professional interest in this material. In addition to designing the cover, Morse decorated the title page and borders throughout the text.
  • After Poems of Cabin and Field, Margaret Armstrong replaced Alice Morse as the designer for Dunbar’s covers. This striking cover was considered among Armstrong’s finest designs, rivaled only by Pippa passes . This Dodd, Mead and Company ad in the Book Buyer could have said “three entertaining books,” “three enlightening books,” or “three interesting books,” yet the publishers chose to say “handsome.” Two of the three book covers shown here were designed by women.
  • This display advertisement places When Malindy Sings in a series with Poems of Cabin and Field and Candle-lightin’ time although they were not initially issued as such.
  • The Paul Laurence Dunbar poetry volumes were unusual in the title page credits given to the designers. The page borders were also signed by the artist, as you can see in the lower right.(click to circle monogram)
  • Lil’ Gal was another Dunbar title from Dodd, Mead, and Company; it featured photographs by Leigh Richmond Minor, who was an art teacher at Hampton Institute and a member of the camera club. Although the design was signed by Margaret Armstrong, her name was not mentioned in this ad published in the Lamp.
  • This series by Esther Singleton began in 1898 and continued through the 1920’s reusing the same cover design. As shown by this advertisement, the book cover was an important selling point. The set was issued in two colorways shown in these two advertisements and...
  • ...as shown here, with a light verdigris-colored blind stamped version, and a more ornate gold stamped version. It is possible that the two versions were priced differently, but I could find no documentation to that effect. The Harvey Library has five of the titles in the series, some with the monochromatic cover, and some with the gilt cover
  • In the detail slides, you can see that the solid blind stamped cloth has vertical ribbed grain, while the gold stamped version has diagonal ribbed grain.
  • In Robert Browning’s Pippa Passes, Armstrong is credited as illustrator. The striking 1899 design was praised in reviews for the book. The design was integral to the work and was reused for later editions, such as this one from 1903.
  • Publishers constantly sought to achieve the most visual impact at the cheapest cost. This was accomplished though the judicious use of gold and pigments. It was not unusual for a publisher to reissue a book with fewer colors than in the original; each color added to the cost of stamping. The cover on the right featured more gold but only one stamp, versus the three separate stamps in the other version.
  • Outlook and Literary news (Dec. 1900) both mention cover in review. Because recent collectors were more interested in the cover art than the content of the book there has been some confusion regarding the initials carved in the tree. The reviews inform us that this is the love-scarred beech inscribed by the story’s protagonists, Basham Miles and Elizabeth Day, not an artist’s monogram. Miss Armstrong signed in the lower right, near the roots of the tree.
  • This cover for John Greenleaf Whittier’s tent on the beach was hailed for its composition. The book was issued in blue, green, brown, and red cloth versions, to fit the tastes of various buyers.
  • Bursts of red drew attention to the books in this holiday book ad from Scribners. The upper right corner features a half-tone reproduction of the front cover design of Henry van Dyke’s Music and Other Poems . The same red was featured in the title page designed by Margaret Armstrong. The border design on the right is, of course, reminiscent of medieval illuminated manuscripts, which used red as an accent color.
  • These two examples of title page borders come from a series of biographies of notable artists and writers of the period. Margaret Armstrong’s monogram graces the design for William Morris. Later, the publisher recycled the design, without the artists’ monogram, for the Rossetti’s. The book cover was also designed by Armstrong.
  • Although Amy Richards is a distinctive and recognizable artist; these titles by Henry Van Dyke appear to imitate Margaret Armstrong, especially with the long tail on the capital letter “R.” The Toiling of Felix on the left is a Margaret Armstrong design; the design on the right, The Builders , is by Amy Richards. This is a clear example where the publisher required a new design, and Miss Armstrong was unable to provide one. Many of the designs in this vein were sent to anonymous artists. Amy Richards, however adapted the design to her own style.
  • The Library’s copies of both of these books have been rebound, but the signed title page allows one to attribute the covers to Richards. On the left Howard Pyle is credited, but Amy Richards is not mentioned. It was normal not to credit the decorator, unless the decorations appeared throughout the whole book, as with the previous examples of Dunbar and Browning poetry.
  • Owing to its “growing popularity,” Henry Van Dyke’s Little Rivers, originally published in 1895, was reissued in 1903 with a new cover that was uniform with the other titles designed by Margaret Armstrong. The 1898 Scribners’ imprint the Blue Flower featured an earlier Armstrong design for the series. Note that this is the 50 th batch of 1,000 copies, so scarcity was not part of the marketing of this title. Instead, both of these ads remark upon the popularity as a selling point.
  • The Golden Key from Hampton’s collection shows the color scheme that had been associated with Van Dyke’s Scribner’s imprints at the end of the 19 th century. Fighting for Peace, a later non-fiction title uses the same recognizable color and lettering style. The color scheme as marketing tool is closely tied to Margaret Armstrong, for she also created a “signature look” in green for Henry David Thoreau...
  • a signature look on red cloth with gold and black stamping for George Washington Cable, and in lavender for Myrtle Reed. The Myrtle Reed covers would become Margaret Armstrong’s most recognizable work, yet the artist complained that she hated both the author’s work and the color scheme, described as “saccharine mauve.” The publisher, Putnam, preferred to call them “dainty, yet inexpensive gifts” (Review of Reviews ad section v38)
  • Amy Richards worked for most of the major publishers, the covers that she created for Stokes were widely advertized. She produced a fairly large number of signed designs, but it is likely that some Amy Rand designs have been falsely attributed to Richards. In this article from the Outlook Magazine , the cover of J.M. Barrie’s Margaret Ogilvy was hailed as one of the finest examples of a commercial bookbinding stamped onto paper, rather than cloth or leather. The Harvey Library also has a later edition lacking the cover decoration. The later edition may have been issued with a decorated dust jacket, but I have not seen it. As with early dust jackets, relatively few of these paper book covers have survived intact.
  • Married a publisher and illustrated many books, most of her work was in the 20 th century.
  • Bertha Stuart trained at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Cooper Union and she is currently being honored with a retrospective exhibition at Boston Public Library. In addition to a signed cover, the artist is credited for her border decorations in this book. Like Blanche McManus Mansfield, Stuart did a fair amount of work in the 20 th century.
  • Amy M. Sacker illustrated several entire books, so her credited works are easy to find. Miss Sacker, a graduate of the School of the Boston Museum of Fine arts, tended to work for Boston publishers, such as Page and Houghton and Mifflin. Unfortunately, identification of her work is made more difficult by the number of different monograms she used throughout her career.
  • Decorative Designers was a large firm headed by Henry Thayer. The firm included both men and women, but the most prominent member was Emma Reddington Lee, who became known as Lee Thayer, after her marriage to Henry Thayer. Margaret Armstrong once referred to her competition at the Decorative Designers as a “sweatshop.” Whatever the working conditions, the firm churned out thousands of designs. Solomon Crow’s Christmas Pockets, shown at the right, was identified by Mrs. Thayer as one of her designs in an interview with Charles Gullans and John Espey at UCLA. Their catalogue on the Decorative Designers is significant the only such book produced prior to the artist’s death. The large group of artists allowed the firm to produce widely varied styles of designs. Without Mrs. Thayer’s interview, unsigned designs would be impossible to identify. Signed book covers can be identified by a monogram of interlocking capital D’s.
  • After the first decade of the 20 th century demand for these designs ground to a halt. A few designs were reissued or adapted for the contiuation of a series, but completely new designs were few and far between. After receiving her teaching credentials from Pratt Institute, Alice Morse became coordinator for art instruction in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Following some successful volumes of botanical illustrations, Margaret Armstrong took up Mystery writing. Bertha Stuart became an interior designer in Portland, Oregon. Mrs. Henry Whitman died in 1904, leaving her estate to Radcliffe College, Howard University, and Tuskeegee Institute. The publishers had adopted paper dustjackets, which were much cheaper to produce than stamped cloth. The modern offset printing could reproduce wide ranges of tonal values and colors without the limitations of the old stamping process.
  • A mighty and conspicuous presence

    1. 1. Women Artists and Book Decoration in the Marketing of Victorian Literature & Conspicuous Presence Valinda S. Carroll 2009
    2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Introduction to 19 th century book trade </li></ul><ul><li>Changes in industry </li></ul><ul><li>Role of women in book production </li></ul><ul><li>Marketing of book covers </li></ul>
    3. 3. Book Titles Sold in U.S.
    4. 4. Pre-1840
    5. 5. Pre-1860
    6. 6. Pre-1860
    7. 7. Developments in Cloth Binding
    8. 8. Developments in Cloth Binding
    9. 9. Developments in Cloth Binding
    10. 10. Women in the book industry
    11. 11. Traditional Binders
    12. 12. Women in the book industry
    13. 13. And so books became so cheap that men utilized them to throw at the cat. Instead of spelling it missal , they spelled it missile . Elbert Hubbard
    14. 14. Marketing book covers <ul><li>Using the cover image to sell the text </li></ul><ul><li>Using multiple designs, materials and color schemes to sell more copies </li></ul><ul><li>Using the artist’s name and reputation to sell the book </li></ul>
    15. 17. Sarah Wyman Whitman
    16. 18. Sarah Wyman Whitman
    17. 19. Sarah Wyman Whitman
    18. 20. Sarah Wyman Whitman
    19. 21. Aldine Club
    20. 22. Aldine Club
    21. 24. Alice Cordelia Morse
    22. 25. World’s Columbian Exposition
    23. 26. World’s Columbian Exposition
    24. 27. The Alhambra
    25. 28. Grolier Club <ul><li>Whitman </li></ul><ul><li>Morse </li></ul>
    26. 29. Grolier Club <ul><li>Morse </li></ul><ul><li>Armstrong </li></ul>
    27. 30. Grolier Club <ul><li>Armstrong </li></ul>
    28. 31. Holiday Book Catalogues
    29. 32. Holiday Book Catalogues
    30. 33. Monograms
    31. 34. Armstrong Signed Design
    32. 35. Alice Cordelia Morse
    33. 36. Alice Cordelia Morse
    34. 38. Margaret Armstrong
    35. 40. Morse for Dunbar
    36. 41. Morse for Dunbar
    37. 42. Armstrong for Dunbar
    38. 43. Armstrong for Dunbar
    39. 44. Armstrong for Dunbar
    40. 45. Armstrong for Dunbar
    41. 46. Alice Cordelia Morse
    42. 47. Alice Cordelia Morse
    43. 48. Alice Cordelia Morse
    44. 53. Title Page Borders
    45. 54. Title Page Borders
    46. 55. “ Branding” an author
    47. 56. Amy Richards
    48. 57. Armstrong Series
    49. 59. Armstrong Series
    50. 60. Amy Richards
    51. 61. Blanche McManus Mansfield
    52. 62. Bertha Stuart
    53. 63. Amy M. Sacker
    54. 64. Decorative Designers
    55. 65. End