Timeline of Publishers' Bindings: Pre-1830

Throughout the 18th century books were primarily published by booksellers and offered in two or three styles of bindings at different price points. By the early 19th century publishing and bookselling had split into two distinct businesses, with publishers taking on the cost of binding. Publishers generally issued their books either in plain paper wrappers or paper glued to boards, sometimes with the title page printed directly onto the cover. These paper covers were intended to be temporary; buyers would commission custom leather bindings that suited their budget and taste. Books were expensive and largely found only in the homes of the very wealthy.



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The Pirate: A Romance, by Sir Walter Scott (New York: William Borradaile, 1822)
Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum
Carol Jording Rare Book Acquisition Fund, 2016

This copy of volume 1 of The Pirate (top image) is still bound in its original paper over boards casing with untrimmed pages.

The copy below contains volumes 1 and 2 bound together in a custom leather and marbled paper binding.

Timeline of Publishers' Bindings: Pre-1830