In 1901 British publishing firm A. & C. Black became the first to use the three-color printing process for color illustrations in its 20 shillings series of “Colour Books.” Black used watercolor artists to create the illustrations, and most of the volumes featured 70 or more color plates. Turbayne and his colleagues at the Carlton Studio were responsible for the majority of the cover designs as well as the overall design of the entire series. These books sold very well, boosted by their relatively affordable price (roughly equivalent to £78 today), colorful illustrations, and handsome bindings.
War Impressions, translated by Dorothy Menpes, painted by Mortimer Menpes (London, A. & C. Black, 1901) Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum
Published in 1901, War Impressions by Mortimer Menpes was the first title in the colour book series. Although it does not bear Turbayne's scarab monogram, he and his colleagues at the Carlton Studio were responsible for the majority of the cover designs in the series.
India, by Mortimer Menpes and Flora Annie Steel (London, A. & C. Black, 1905) Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum
Turbayne was always careful to relate the cover design closely to the subject matter of the book, and his attention to detail and authenticity is apparent in his notes for India:
"The centre panels on the spine and front are meant to suggest one of the carved stone lattice windows of the Mosque of the Palace of Ahmedabad, one of the most delicate and beautiful specimins of Indian ornament. The narrow border is based on a border on a stone screen round a tomb at Gwalior, 17th century work. The treatment of the peacock was suggested by some old Indian embroidery."
Ancient Tales and Folklore of Japan, by Richard Gordon Smith (London, A. & C. Black, 1908) Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum
The panes on this cover are meant to represent a Japanese Shoji blind, but author Richard Gordon Smith complained that the squares were not accurate in size. "This does not matter much as no Europeans probably notice it," he wrote, "but it has been noticed [in Japan] just as much as if we were to reverse our doors and windows to lengthways instead of up and down." This seems to be one of the rare mistakes made by Turbayne, who was typically very accurate with his designs.
Egypt, by R. Talbot Kelly (London, A. & C. Black, 1910) Helen Farr Sloan Library & Archives, Delaware Art Museum
The winged serpents are an obvious reference to Egypt, and the highly stylized papyrus flowers resemble the elongated, attenuated lines of the "Glasgow Style" of Art Nouveau, created by artists Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret and Frances Macdonald, and Herbert MacNair.