Timeline of Publishers' Bindings: 1880-1889

Books of this era typify the Victorian sensibility of more is more. Elaborate pictorial designs, expressive lettering, and overlapping images crowded the entire surface of the cover, leaving little blank space. Black and gold stamping were joined by silver, which was achieved by creating an aluminum and palladium alloy that mimicked silver but avoided its tarnishing tendencies. Towards the end of the decade color stamping appeared, sometimes applied with the “split fountain” or “rainbow roll” technique in which multiple inks were applied at the same time, resulting in a gradated effect.

The Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 had introduced the American public to Japanese art, and the 1880s were the height of the Japonisme craze.  Its influence on book design is characterized by strong diagonals, flattened forms, asymmetrical compositions, and heavy outlines.

 

 

Land, sea and sky, or, Wonders of life and nature : A description of the physical geography and organic life of the earth

Land, Sea and Sky, or, Wonders of Life and Nature: A Description of the Physical Geography and Organic Life of the Earth, by Hermann Joseph Klein (London and New York: Ward, Lock, & Co., 1884)
Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum
Carol Jording Rare Book Acquisition Fund, 2016

This binding contains all the hallmarks of its decade: black, gold, and silver stamping, zoned areas, diagonal lines, pictorial images, expressive lettering, and crowded, overlapping designs.

 

 

 

 

 

The poetical works of Frances Ridley Havergal

The Poetical Works of Frances Ridley Havergal, by Frances Ridley Havergal (New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1885)
Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Solomon Smith looking on

Mrs. Solomon Smith Looking On, by Isabella Macdonald Alden (London and New York: G. Routledge, 1889)
Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum
Carol Jording Rare Book Acquisition Fund, 2016

The pansies on the binding have been stamped using the split-fountain technique, which gives them their rainbow effect.

Timeline of Publishers' Bindings: 1880-1889